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This easy to make spicy Chinese Mapo Tofu is packed full of delicious umami flavor!
This post contains affiliate links.
Many years ago, on the quest to be “healthy” I ordered this dish called Mapo Tofu ate a Chinese restaurant. First off, let me explain that the dish is not healthy. At the time, I assumed because it was made with tofu, it was a health food. I was wrong. However, while not a health food, it is a wonderfully delicious food. So delicious. Cubed tofu in a thick, spicy umami sauce with ground pork…YUM.
Related Recipe: Healthy Asian Style Lettuce Wraps
This easy to make spicy Chinese Mapo Tofu is just that – easy to make and packed full of deliciously spicy, umami flavors. If you think you don’t like tofu, try this dish. I will tell you, the boyfriend loved this dish. Like I said, it is no health food, just yum food.
The Szechuan Peppercorns By Penzeys Spices 1 oz 1/2 cup jar used offer this delightful spicy, tongue numbing quality that is very common among many Szechuan (Sichuan) style dishes. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but use as little or as much as you’d like. The first time I had a dish with szechuan peppercorns, I was a little taken aback.
I was not ready for that tongue tingling sensation and actually thought I might be having an allergic reaction to something. Yes, sometimes I worry about things. I’m a little crazy like that. But alas, it was only the peppercorns I learned later. Now I love them – I use them every time I make a Szechaun style dish.
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The Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce (Toban Djan) (13 oz.) is a much needed staple if you’re going to be regularly cooking Szechuan cuisine. It is SOOO amazing filled with this intensely spicy, salty umami flavor. I think I actually may start finding other uses for it…I’m thinking a whole new line of recipes here! But I digress. My point its that it is delicious and you should definitely keep a jar in your fridge at all times.
Like I’ve said, this dish is easy. We going to start by making the sauce. Mix the broth, bean paste, soy sauce, salt, sugar, sake and sesame oil in a bowl and set it aside. Look at those ingredients! Talk about some serious flavor? It’s good, seriously good.
Related Recipe: Spicy Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork
In a large skillet, stir fry the pork until it is no longer pink. Make sure to break up any large pieces.
Related Recipe: Spicy Kung Pao Chicken
I got this skillet (Farberware Classic Series Stainless Steel 10 Inch Covered Frypan) from my mom for Christmas one year and must admit I did not use it for a long time. When I used it for the first time, I realized I absolutely LOVE it! Now I realize there may be some nicer, more expensive pans out there, but I have been incredibly happy with this one. I have included the link below; note I will receive a small commission off any purchase, but it just helps me keep up with the expense of running this site! Once the pork is almost fully cooked, add the garlic and stir fry for 2 minutes. Then stir in that delicious sauce we made earlier.
Add the cubed tofu, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir in the tofu. Add the cornstarch mixture, a little at a time, until the sauce is thick and glossy. Remove from heat and serve with steamed rice. Garnish with the chopped scallions and ground peppercorns. Like I said, use as much or a little of the ground peppercorns as you would like. Easy to make spicy Chinese mapo tofu. Am I right?
Mapo Tofu recipe
- 1 pound medium tofu cubed
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 teaspoon sake
- 2 tablespoon broad bean paste
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns toasted and ground
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. water
- 1-2 tablespoon chili oil (depending on desired spiciness)
- chopped green onions for garnish
- Mix the broth, broad bean paste, soy sauce, salt, sugar, sake, 1 tbsp. ground Sichuan peppercorns, 1 tbsp. chili oil and sesame oil in a bowl. Set aside.
- Stir fry the pork in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink, breaking up the pieces as it cooks. Add the garlic when the pork is halfway done.
- Stir in the sauce.
- Add the cubed tofu to the top of the pork mixture in an even layer, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir carefully to fully coat the tofu in the sauce.
- Add cornstarch mixture slowly to thicken. Stir carefully until thick and glossy.
- Remove from heat and serve, garnished with scallions, chili oil and the remaining ground Sichuan peppercorns.
- Serve with steamed rice.
- How to adjust the spice level: This dish is spicy by nature. I adjust the heat of the dish by using more or less chili oil. The Sichuan peppercorns add more of a numbing quality instead of spice to the dish. You can reduce the amount used, but I highly recommend using the amount called for in the recipe as it acts as a wonderful flavor enhancer.
- Stir the tofu very gently to prevent it from breaking up and becoming mush. We want the cubes to stay intact.
- Add the cornstarch mixture slowly while gently stirring over medium heat. If your sauce is still to thin, make more cornstarch slurry (1 part cornstarch to 2 parts water) and slowly add it until the desired consistency has been reached (should be thick and slightly glossy). If it's a too thick, add a touch of chicken broth to thin it add.
- You can add additional salt to taste if desired. I don't typically find this necessary, but everyone's tastes are different.