Ma Po Tofu

mapo tofu title

Pockmarked Mother Chen’s Tofu. Not a terribly becoming name is it? But whoever turns their nose up at this spicy tumble of silken tofu and pork belly is missing out (and anyway, more for me!)

Sichuan Province is high on my list of places to return to. Pandas, relaxing tea drinking and spicy, interesting food. But for the time being I just have to think about those hilariously fun Pandas, and cook Sichuan food for myself (but not for long! Terrifying change could see me transplanted into downtown China much sooner than expected).

mapo tofu

But this version of the traditional Ma Po Tofu is not authentic. It is dulled down spice-wise to make it more enjoyable for those of us who don’t eat mouth explodingly spicy food constantly. That said, it is still chilli hot, and has that wonderful spicy, tingling mala (麻辣) experience that I love so much.

Don’t judge the dish by its name, adjust the heat to your taste and travel to Sichuan Province for dinner.

mapo tofu

Ma Po Tofu
adapted from Balance and Harmony: Asian Food by Neil Perry.

300g silken tofu, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons oil
200g minced pork belly (I minced the pork belly myself, so it was more like a brunoise of pork belly, just the way I like it)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
2 tablespoons hot bean paste
125ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon shaoxing wine
2 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon sugar
pinch sea salt
2 pinches Sichuan pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil.

Heat oil in a pan until smoking, add the pork and fry until browned. Add the garlic, spring onions and bean paste and cook, stirring until fragrant. Add the stock, wine, soy, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil then add the tofu. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer to allow the sauce to thicken. Don’t stir too vigorously as you want to keep the tofu intact.
Add the Sichuan pepper and sesame oil and serve.

This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Posted September 6, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Looks tasty. I love mapo tofu. For some inexplicable reason I’ve never gotten around to making my own. Must rectify this soon!
    .-= Helen (grabyourfork)´s last blog ..Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists =-.

  2. Posted September 6, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    You minced the pork yourself?? I like the chunkiness of it!
    Nicely done, I’d love one with a bowl of steamed rice :)
    .-= Yas @´s last blog ..quick post: creeping my way up from flu hell. =-.

  3. Posted September 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    i never seem to order this in a restaurant because there’s just too many other dishes i need to try first but yours looks really delicious. :-)
    .-= Simon Food Favourites´s last blog ..Pocket Bar: Wine, Cheese, Olives and Crepes, Darlinghurst (18 August 2009) =-.

  4. Posted September 6, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I love silken tofu! This looks beautifully spicy, and it’s a nice idea mincing your own pork.
    .-= Arwen from Hoglet K´s last blog ..No Dig Gardening =-.

  5. Posted September 6, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Ma po tofu is one of my faves, though I don’t like it too spicy, either. Yours looks lovely, especially the sauce, mmmm.
    .-= Belle@OohLook´s last blog ..Sweet as: White chocolate and raspberry parfait =-.

  6. Posted September 7, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Mmm it looks fantastic. Ma po tofu is one of my favourite Chinese dishes, but I’ve had a lot of bad ones at restaurants in the past. This one looks so great, I love the idea of using pork belly ever since you mentioned it, gives it that extra awesomeness. Would totally order pork belly ma po if I saw it on a menu!
    .-= Steph´s last blog ..Hot Chocolate Mousse with Pine Nut Praline =-.

  7. Posted September 13, 2009 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Helen (grabyourfork): Oh Helen, it is not difficult to make, no fancy difficult techniques are required and its so rewarding, make some!

    Yas @ I minced the pork myself! It takes forever, but I really love the consistency of the dish with tiny cubes of pork belly.

    Simon Food Favourites: I agree, this dish is pretty traditional, but sometimes old favourites are what is required.

    Arwen from Hoglet K: How underrated is silken tofu!

    Belle@OohLook : Yeah, actually I wish I had some more of this right now :)

    Steph: Haha, thanks! It really is better than regular miscellaneous pork mince :)

  8. Posted September 14, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I adore this dish. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll definitely be giving it a go.
    .-= Syrie´s last blog ..Somage Fine Foods =-.

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