Vegan Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)

Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 5 Mins Cook Time: 15 Mins Total Time: 20 Mins

I’ve been served some pretty horrendous mapo tofu in my time. Usually I’m all for food fusion and recipe bastardization, but for me there are a few hard and fast rules for this dish: the tofu must not be fried beforehand; the tofu should not be wrecked and broken up; there has to be a layer of red oil in the top when it’s done; and there has to be an element of 麻 (ma) or numbness from the Sichuan peppercorns.

Mapo tofu is great with semi-firm tofu, but if you are not so confident, you can start with firm tofu; it is really just a texture thing and does not affect the taste significantly. This dish again embodies the Sichuan principles of salty, sour, sweet, spicy, fragrant, combined with the trinity of ginger, garlic and spring onion. It is a brilliant accompaniment to steamed rice and is surprisingly quick to make.

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0/11 Ingredients
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0/9 Instructions
  • Mince the garlic and ginger, chop the spring onions and cut the dried chillies (pre-soaked).
  • Fry the vegan mince to make sure it's thoroughly cooked. You can use minced seitan or mushrooms if you prefer. Set aside for later.
  • Mix 1 tbsp of fermented chilli bean paste with 1 tbsp of fermented bean paste in a bowl.
  • Heat 3 tbsp of oil over medium-low heat in a non-stick pan and fry the dried chilli and Sichuan pepper until fragrant and slightly darkened (not brown!) Remove the dried chilli and Sichuan pepper.
  • Add the fermented bean paste mixture and fry until the oil turns red.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the ginger, garlic and white part of the spring onions, frying until fragrant.
  • Add the tofu and mix well taking care not to break the tofu (pick up your pan and swirl it around). Add the mince back in. Add water until the tofu is only slightly uncovered. Turn the heat back down to medium so you don't get a heart attack.
  • Make a corn starch slurry with 1 tsp of corn starch to 1 tbsp of water. Add it to the gravy and reduce until sauce is at the desired thickness.
  • Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot with plain rice!


This recipe does not use soy sauce for flavouring as the fermented bean pastes are usually salty enough, but if you like to be heavy on the flavour you can add 1-2 tbsp of soy sauce.


#chilli  #sauce  #sichuan pepper  #spicy  #tofu  

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