How to Make Mapo Tofu

Have you ever eaten a dish called Mapo Tofu? In the rich world of Chinese cuisine, Mapo Tofu is undoubtedly a mouth-watering classic. It not only has a strong tofu aroma, but also combines the spicy taste, making it a must-have dish on many people’s tables. However, making an authentic dish of Mapo Tofu is not an easy task. It requires not only cooking skills, but also persistence and love for this dish. It is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. 

image from Choosing Chia


  • 1 block of silken or medium-firm tofu (approximately 400g), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 200g ground pork or beef (optional for a vegetarian version)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2-3 tablespoons doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)
  • 1 tablespoon douchi (fermented black beans)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped (white and green parts separated)
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili oil (adjust according to your spice tolerance)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water (for slurry)
  • Salt(to taste)
  • Chopped scallion greens
  • Toasted sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Prepare the Ingredients:

    • Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
    • Mince the garlic and ginger, and chop the scallions, separating the white and green parts.
  2. Toast the Sichuan Peppercorns:

    • Heat a dry skillet over medium heat.
    • Add the Sichuan peppercorns and toast until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
    • Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then grind into a coarse powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Set aside.
  3. Cook the Ground Meat (if using):

    • Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and add a little oil.
    • Add the ground pork or beef and cook until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Sauté the Aromatics:

    • In the same wok or skillet, add a bit more oil if needed.
    • Add the minced garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the scallions. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Add the Doubanjiang and Douchi:

    • Stir in the doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste) and douchi (fermented black beans).
    • Cook for another 1-2 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  6. Combine Ingredients:

    • Return the cooked ground meat to the pan (if using).
    • Add the chicken or vegetable broth, soy sauce, sugar, and chili oil.
    • Bring to a simmer and let cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
  7. Add the Tofu:

    • Gently add the tofu cubes to the pan, stirring carefully to avoid breaking them.
    • Let the tofu simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes.
  8. Thicken the Sauce:

    • Stir in the cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water).
    • Cook until the sauce thickens, about 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add the Ground Sichuan Peppercorns:

    • Sprinkle the ground Sichuan peppercorns over the dish, stirring gently to combine.
  10. Serve:

    • Transfer the Mapo Tofu to a serving dish.
    • Garnish with the green parts of the scallions and toasted sesame seeds if desired.
  11. Enjoy:

    • Serve hot, ideally with steamed white rice to balance the bold flavors.


  • Adjust the level of chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns according to your spice tolerance.
  • For a vegetarian version, you can omit the meat and increase the amount of tofu or add other vegetables like mushrooms.
  • Doubanjiang can be found in Asian grocery stores or online, and it is key to achieving the authentic flavor of Mapo Tofu.

image from amazon

Being devoted to cooking Mapo Tofu is not only a pursuit of delicious food, but also a passion for life. Whether it is in the kitchen at home with smoke curling up, or in a restaurant tasting the unique flavor, every bite of Mapo Tofu is a unique enjoyment. With our passion for delicious food, let us explore the story behind Mapo Tofu and savor its charm and emotions. I hope that every journey of Mapo Tofu can bring us more surprises and touches, and let us walk through every corner of life with delicious food.

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