Authentic Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu originates from Sichuan Province and is traditionally spicy, oily and mouth numbing from the addition of Sichuan peppercorns. It’s a quick and easy dish to make at home, and also healthier if you use less oil than restaurant style.

Serves 4 (if the main dish)
Prep time – 10 mins
Cooking time – 15 mins

Wine Pairing – Riesling, Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir


  • 400-500g minced meat – traditionally made with pork (beef in Sichuan province), but I use turkey or chicken
  • 500g medium firmness tofu cut into 2cm cubes (If you have time, gently simmer the tofu in salted water for a few minutes to improve the flavour)
  • 2-3 tbsp oil (any vegetable oil, not EVOO)
  • 1-1.5 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns (depending on how mouth-numbing you like it) – dry roast in small pan for 2mins until fragrant then grind roughly in mortar & pestle
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic finely minced (4-5 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp ginger grated (thumb size)
  • chilli oil or chilli flakes (add en extra tbsp oil in Step 1 below if you’re using flakes)
  • 1-2 heaped tbsp of Doubanjiang (fermented spicy broadbean paste), depending on how spicy and salty you like it. If you don’t have this then soy or black bean paste could do, as well as miso in a pinch, but use only 1 tbs of miso
  • 1 tsp cornstarch mixed into a slurry with 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 tsp five spice powder (if you have it)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (not essential)
  • soy sauce and sugar to taste
  • spring onions for garnish


  1. Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan on medium heat. Add ground Sichuan peppercorns (and chilli flakes if you don’t have chilli oil). Stir for 20sec, then add onion, garlic and ginger. Stir fry until fragrant, around 2min
  2. Add ground meat, breaking it up as it’s cooking. Add doubanjiang paste after 2-3min and mix until meat is cooked.
  1. Pour in corn starch slurry and stir until the sauce thickens.
  2. Add 1tsp sugar and sesame oil. Mix, then add tofu and fold gently through the sauce. Simmer for 3-4 mins, then taste for sweetness, saltiness and spiciness. Add more sugar and some soy sauce if needed. Drizzle on chilli oil to taste.
  3. Garnish with spring onions and some fresh coriander if you have it on hand.
  4. Serve hot with steamed rice or try it with noodles. Don’t forget a side of veg!

If you’d like to cook more Chinese dishes in the future, make sure you check out my post on Asian Cooking Pantry Staples!

Published by nonnachong

A lover of food and how it unites us!

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