Saturday, 14 September 2013

Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

I adore this dish, but sadly we don't make it very often nowadays. "Mapo" translates as "pock-marked grandmother", so this dish is sometimes known as "pock-marked grandmother's tofu".

The children aren't yet ready or willing to eat this lip-numbing Sichuanese dish, so the portions I've measured out will make enough for two adults. You can buy ready-made jars of mapo sauce (麻婆醬) in the Chinese supermarket, but I have made it using a spicy ground bean sauce, tobian jiang (辣豆瓣酱).

Lee Kum Kee Chilli Bean Sauce (辣豆瓣酱)



  • Approx. 150g pork mince (I minced a single pork loin steak)
  • 200g firm tofu, cut into 1.5cm cubes (I used Cauldron tofu from the supermarket)
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 2cm cube raw ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 150ml chicken or pork stock
  • 2 tsp chilli bean sauce (la toban jiang 辣豆瓣酱)
  • 1/2 spring onion, finely sliced on the diagonal
  • A small handful of frozen petits pois
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cornflour, mixed with 20ml water
Serves 2



  • Dry-fry the Sichuan peppercorns for 20 seconds, or until they begin to release their aroma. Crush them lightly and set aside
  • Add the light soy, dark soy, sugar, Shaoxing rice wine and 1 tsp sunflower oil to the pork mince and mix thoroughly. Set aside and marinade for at least 20 minutes
  • Heat a wok until very hot. Add 1 tbsp sunflower oil and swirl it around the wok
  • Add the pork mince and fry it quickly, lifting and chopping the mince with a spatula to cook it. Once it is sealed, add the minced garlic and ginger and fry quickly for 20 seconds
  • Add the chilli bean sauce to the mince mixture with any remaining marinade and stir-fry, ensuring that the sauce is thoroughly mixed with the mince
  • Add the chicken or pork stock to the mince and bring it to the boil. Cover and boil gently for 5 minutes
  • Add the cubes of tofu and petits pois and stir gently to mix with the pork mixture. Bring back to the boil. Add the cornflour/water mixture to thicken the sauce, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the petits pois have cooked through and the tofu has taken on the flavours of the sauce
  • Remove the wok from the heat and add a few drops of sesame oil. Place in a warmed serving dish, garnished with the ground Sichuan peppercorns and spring onion. Serve immediately

Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

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