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Mapo Tofu

Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

Mapo Tofu is a quick and easy tofu dish that’s delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing. Made with tender tofu and well-seasoned ground pork or beef in a spicy chili oil sauce, this signature recipe from the Sichuan province of China is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it alone for a spicy experience that will heat you up, or if your spice tolerance is low, adjust the spices and serve with steamed rice.

Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

Why You'll Love Mapo Tofu

  • It’s Sichuan-level spicy. If you know anything about Sichuan cuisine, you know that the region is well known for its spicy food. Mapo tofu is no different. For this recipe, you’ll need a healthy dose of Sichuan peppercorns, crushed red pepper, and spicy chili bean paste to bring the heat to the table. Of course you can take down the heat by adjusting how much you add.
  • It has the perfect balance of flavor and texture. If you’ve never had mapotofu, you need to try it. The tofu brings a unique texture and flavor, which contrasts well with the tender pork. And everything is coated in a deep umami flavor that will blow you away.
  • It’s quick and easy. Most Chinese recipes are so fast to make. After prepping the ingredients, you just cook everything in one pan over the stove (which makes for easy clean up too!). The entire process from prep to table takes just 20 minutes.
Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

Ingredients and Substitutions

To make this easy homemade Mapo Tofu, you will need the following ingredients (full quantities in the recipe card below):

  • medium firm tofu - we used medium firm tofu, but soft tofu is commonly used as well. It depends on your personal preference when it comes to the texture.
  • meat - ground pork is traditionally used, but you can use either ground beef or ground pork in this recipe.
  • vegetable oil - feel free to use any vegetable oil that you have on hand. I use avocado oil.
  • ginger + garlic
  • Sichuan peppercorns - Not all Sichuan peppercorns are the same. Fresher peppercorns have a more powerful numbing effect, and low-quality peppercorns include a bitter black seed inside. The real flavor comes from the husks. To avoid the bitter taste, you want to buy quality Sichuan peppercorns. And if your peppercorns are very fresh, you may want to add less.
  • seasoning - you will also need crushed red pepper, ground white pepper (optional), and chili bean paste (called Doubanjiang in Chinese).
  • Shaoxing wine - this Chinese cooking wine adds traditional flavor, but you can leave it out if you can't get your hands on it.
  • chicken broth or water
  • cornstarch
  • sesame oil - you can substitute with chili oil for some extra heat.
  • green onions

You will also need measuring cups and spoons and a 10-inch skillet. You will also need a large cooking pot if preheating the tofu.

Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

How to Make the Best Mapo Tofu

  1. Cook ground meat. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until the hot oil sizzles, about 1 minute. Add ground beef (or ground pork) and cook until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure to break up the meat into small pieces to help even browning.
  2. Add seasoning. Add ginger, garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, crushed red pepper, and white pepper (if using). Stir well and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add Shaoxing wine, chili bean paste, chicken broth (or water), and cornstarch. Mix well until smooth and let the sauce mixture simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until thickened a bit.
  3. Add tofu. Carefully add tofu and toss gently to coat. Optionally, you can gently heat the cubed tofu in a large cooking pot of boiling water over medium heat for 1-2 minutes to firm up a bit, and then transfer into the sauce mixture.
  4. Add remaining ingredients. Stir in sesame oil (or chili oil) and green onions and let the tofu simmer in the sauce for 1 minute.
  5. Serve. Serve immediately with a bowl of steamed rice or fried rice.
Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

How to Serve Mapo Tofu

You can serve this spicy mapo tofu alone or with sides. It’s typically served with rice or noodles, but tastes great with other sides like dumplings and egg rolls.

Our favorite dishes to serve with it are:

  • Vegetarian Fried Rice
  • Scallion Oil Noodles
  • Chinese Garlic Cucumber Salad
  • Stir-Fried Lotus Root
  • Hand Pulled Noodles
Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

Storing Instructions

  • How to store: Mapo tofu is best served fresh. You can keep leftover mapotofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
  • How to reheat: Reheat in a pan over the stove until warmed through. You can also microwave it covered for a couple minutes.
Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

More Chinese Recipes

  • 60 Chinese Takeout Recipes at Home
  • Tofu and Mushroom Stir Fry
  • Air Fryer Stir Fry Vegetables with Tofu
  • Spicy Dan Dan Noodles
  • Lion’s Head Chinese Meatballs
  • Beef Potstickers (Dumplings)

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Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

Mapo Tofu


  • Author: Sam Hu | Ahead of Thyme
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
Print Recipe
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Description

Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ pound ground beef or ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chili bean paste (Doubanjiang)
  • ¼ cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 pound package medium firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil or chili oil
  • ¼ cup green onions, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until the hot oil sizzles, about 1 minute. Add ground beef (or ground pork) and cook until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure to break up the meat into small pieces to help even browning.
  2. Add ginger, garlic, Sichuan peppercorns, crushed red pepper, and white pepper (if using). Stir well and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add Shaoxing wine, chili bean paste, chicken broth (or water), and cornstarch. Mix well until smooth and let the sauce mixture simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until thickened a bit.
  4. Carefully add tofu and toss gently to coat. Optionally, you can gently heat the cubed tofu in a large cooking pot of boiling water over medium heat for 1-2 minutes to firm up a bit, and then transfer into the sauce mixture.
  5. Stir in sesame oil (or chili oil) and green onions and let the tofu simmer in the sauce for 1 minute.
  6. Serve immediately with a bowl of steamed rice or fried rice.

Notes

How to store: Mapo tofu is best served fresh. You can keep leftover mapotofu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

How to reheat: Reheat in a pan over the stove until warmed through. You can also microwave it covered for a couple minutes.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: Mapo tofu, spicy tofu, sichuan tofu, tofu with ground pork, chili oil tofu

Mapo tofu is quick, easy, delicious, flavorful, spicy, and numbing that is ready in just 20 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice on busy weeknights. | aheadofthyme.com

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