Mapo Tofu Recipe: An Iconic Sichuan Dish

mapo tofu recipe

Mapo tofu, also known as “麻婆豆腐” (má pó dòu fu) in Mandarin, is a Sichuan-style Chinese dish that has gained popularity all over the world for its complex flavours and rich texture. This spicy and savoury dish is made with silken tofu, ground pork or beef, and a variety of spices and seasonings that come together to create a mouth-watering taste that you won’t soon forget. Read on to find out more about our mapo tofu recipe!

Where did mapo tofu originate from?

Mapo tofu originated in the Sichuan province in southwestern China, which is known for its bold and spicy flavours. The dish was created by a woman named Chen Mapo, who owned a small restaurant in the city of Chengdu in the late 1800s. Legend has it that Chen Mapo was known for her spicy and numbing dishes, which were said to be so spicy that they would make your tongue go numb. She created the mapo tofu dish using Sichuan peppercorns, a variety of spices, and tofu in her recipe. The dish became so popular that it quickly spread throughout the region and became a staple in Sichuan cuisine. And since she was the one who created the numbingly good dish, mapo tofu was named after her. 

Classic mapo tofu recipe

classic mapo tofu recipe
(Credit: frankzhang0711 / Pixabay)

Mapo tofu is a classic Chinese dish that should not be missed. With its bold and spicy flavours, it’s a dish that is sure to become a new favourite among all your guests.

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Servings: 3 – 4


  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and mashed
  • 2 tbsp chilli bean paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 220g ground pork
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 green onions, sliced


  1. Cut the tofu into small cubes, rinse and mashfermented black beans, mincegarlic and ginger, and slicegreen onions.
  2. Heat a wok (available on Tramontina Official Store) over medium heat and toastSichuan peppercorns until fragrant. Remove the peppercorns from the wok and set them aside.
  3. Add  vegetable oil to the wok and turn the heat to high. Add the garlic, ginger, and mashed fermented black beans, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the chilli bean paste and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Add ground pork and stir-fry until the pork is cooked through.
  4. Add cubed tofu to the wok and stir to combine with the pork mixture. 
  5. Add Shaoxing wine (available on SOEASY.SG) and chicken or vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat. Cover the wok and let the tofu simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  6. In a bowl, mix cornstarch (available on Parisha Mart ( Himalayan Pte Ltd.)) with water to create a slurry.
  7. Add the slurry to the wok and stir to thicken the sauce.
  8. Turn off the heat and sprinkle toasted Sichuan peppercorns and sliced green onions over the top of the mapo tofu, and you’re done!

Vegetarian mapo tofu recipe

vegetarian mapo tofu recipe
(Credit: Johnny_px / Pixabay)

While mapo tofu traditionally includes ground pork, you can also make a vegetarian version by omitting the pork and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. 

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Servings: 3 – 4


  • 14 oz (400g) firm tofu, diced into small cubes
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 tbsp chilli bean paste (doubanjiang)
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  2. Add the chilli bean paste and stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes, or until the oil turns red.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, and sugar, and stir well. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  4. Add the diced tofu and gently stir to combine. Allow the tofu to cook for 5-7 minutes, or until it has absorbed the flavours of the sauce.
  5. Add the cornstarch slurry to the pan and stir gently to thicken the sauce.
  6. Garnish with sliced green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil (optional) before serving.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have access to Sichuan peppercorns, you can omit them or substitute them with regular black peppercorns. Additionally, you can add other vegetables to the dish, such as sliced mushrooms or diced bell peppers, to make it more substantial.

Spice up your meals with these different types of mapo tofu

In summary, this mapo tofu recipe is a great way to add some bold and spicy flavours to your meals. With its rich history and easy-to-follow steps, this dish is perfect for anyone who loves to cook and experiment with different flavours. And don’t forget to share your creations with your friends and family, just remember to also try out the best Indian curry recipes and easy slushy recipes for an awesome feast!