The words mapo tofu has to be one of the most well known Chinese dishes around the world, especially for those of you who like to eat chilli Sichuan food. It’s also one of Chen Kenichi’s (Iron Chef Chinese from the popular TV series) signature dishes.
However, how many of you actually know where this dish came from? I’ve mentioned before that I would love for someone to name a dish after me. Just like kung pao chicken, mapo tofu was also named after the original chef who created this dish. You see, the word “mapo” means pocks lady. She had pocks like features on her face and therefore was given that nickname. I’m suddenly not so sure if I want to named after a dish if it was going to be one like this…
The coincidence though is that ‘ma’ actually also means ‘numb’ and is perfect for this dish as the Sichuan peppers will give you a numbing sensation that’s so essential for this dish.
There are many varieties of this dish out there and Yuye’s version below doesn’t actually use Sichuan peppers because he doesn’t like that numbing sensation. If you’re planning on making this dish though, I would suggest putting a few in to give you that extra layer of experience. Hopefully you will like this recipe even without the numbness!
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100g pork mince
- 300g firm tofu
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 spring onion
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tbsp Chinese pickles
- 1/2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 tbsp chilli paste
- 1/2 tbsp hot bean paste
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp Shaoxin Rice Wine
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- Chopped coriander to garnish
- Finely chop garlic, spring onion, ginger and Chinese pickle. Crush and chop Szechuan peppercorns. Chop coriander. Slice tofu into 1cm thick slices.
- Mix pork mince with rice wine, season lightly. Let it sit for 10min.
- Heat vegetable oil in a pan at medium heat and fry garlic, ginger, spring onion, peppercorns and Chinese pickles for 2 minutes.*
- Add chilli paste and hot bean paste and fry 2 minutes.
- Increase to a high heat and add in pork mince. Break up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon/spatula while cooking. Fry until all mince is cooked through.
- Reduce to medium high heat and add in tofu. Break tofu roughly into 1cm chunks with wooden spoon/spatula.
- Add in light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, water and sugar. Stir through and simmer for 8 minutes.
- Dissolve cornflour with cold water and mix until smooth. Add mixture to tofu and stirring through evenly. Simmer until the sauce thickens.**
- Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.
- * Make sure heat is not too high, otherwise hot ingredients will splatter.
- ** If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of water to thin it out. Conversely, to thicken the sauce, add more of the cornflour and water mixture.
- Beef mince or even chicken mince can be used instead of pork mince, although the resulting taste will be quite different.
- Chinese pickles can be omitted if unavailable.
- Ground black pepper can be used instead of Szechuan peppercorns but won't get that numbness. Or the peppercorns can be omitted altogether.