amazingly authentic mapo tofu 麻婆豆腐

Having spent a number of years in china and developing a definite love of anything hot.

and spicy, Sichuan food is something that the UK restaurants can’t even come close to getting right. One dish i used to always get when it was cold and/or rainy is mapo tofu 麻婆豆腐 and yesterday the weather was crap and i craved it like you wouldn’t believe. Many places in china make it with a lot of oil but this version uses 2 tbsp of oil and still tastes pretty authentic.

mapo tofu 麻婆豆腐

mapo tofu 麻婆豆腐

According to Elaine from her blog, the story behind the name of this dish comes from a long time ago in Sichuan province, China. There was a couple who owned a small restaurant predominantly making vegetarian dishes and some of their customers wanted to have some meat with their meals. Meat was expensive but the owner’s wife bought some minced beef and put this through her tofu dish. The wife had bad acne marked face ma-麻 in Chinese and her customers named the dish after her: mapo tofu 麻婆豆腐. Not the nicest way to have a dish named after you but its a cute story and tastes great.

My recipe comes from Ching He Huang and Ken Hom‘s cookbook ‘Exploring China‘ as I love the dishes from this book. they are as close as i can get to real chinese food. I have increased the number of chillies that I use as I love hot food. Give this a go and tweak it to suit your taste and then let me know how you get on.

just remember – the key to chinese cooking is have everything prepared and chopped in advance and then its easy to throw together into a fantastic meal.


  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic peeled, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 2 red chillies chopped
  • 2 tbsp toasted Sichuan peppercorns gently warmed in a pan and then ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 300g minced beef – you can change this for Quorn mince, pork or turkey mince
  • 1tbsp shaoxing rice wine
  • 2tbsp chilli bean past
  • 400g firm tofu cut into dice-sized cubes
  • 75g edamame beans – i used frozen for the convenience
  • 200ml stock – i used chicken stock as it’s what i had at home
  • 1tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1tbsp cornflour mixed with 2tbsp cold water to form a paste
  • ground white pepper
  • 2 spring onions finely sliced for garnish.


  • heat groundnut oil in a wok over a high heat and when it starts to gently smoke add the garlic ginger and fresh chopped chillies.
  • stir fry for a few seconds until the aromas are released into the oil.
  • add the ground peppercorns and the beef (or your substitute) and stir together to brown the meat and let it absorb the flavours.
  • turn the heat down to medium and then add rice wine, chilli bean paste and mix well.
  • throw in the tofu and gently mix around in the pan trying your best not to break up the tofu.
  • its easy for the tour to turn to mush.
  • Add in the edamame and the stock and bring the contents of the wok to a gentle boil.
  • add the light soy sauce to season and taste as you season to ensure that you don’t over or under season.
  • Lastly stir in the cornflour water mix and watch as this helps to thicken the sauce and sprinkle some white pepper over the dish to flavour.
  • remove the wok from the heat and serve the dish in a bowl ready to share or simply gorge on yourself. best served with plain boiled rice.
  • try this once and I am sure you will be hooked and then you can experiment and adapt the recipe to suit your taste. Enjoy.




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