Monday 12 March 2018


Got a tofu denier in your life? Are you a tofu denier yourself? Well then my friend, this is the recipe for you. It is, surely, the most delicious way to eat it. Some restaurants go overboard with the oil - traditionally, it seems, it is quite oily - and I've found that making it at home means I can control the spiciness and the tingliness of the Sichuan pepper that goes in to making mapo tofu.

Many use minced pork. I love the deep flavour of minced beef here, inspired by Fuchsia Dunlop. This is my standard base recipe for Mapo Tofu; you can modify it, using chopped up shiitake and brown mushrooms to replace the meat, or you can go super turbo, by trying out Danny Bowien's version from Mission Chinese, or watch Mind of a Chef and try that recipe. But I implore you to try a straight-up version first to get to grips and fall in love with it. Here's a video I made with Chinatown London to encourage you to give it a go. 

Here's the recipe; serve with lots of steamed fluffy white rice, and stir fried vegetables. 

Ma Po Tofu

Serves 4 with other dishes 

1 box tofu, the type you get in water - I prefer medium-firm silken. Remove, cut into cubes and steep in just boiled water with a pinch of salt
100gr of minced beef
2 tbsp of cooking oil
2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 - 2.5 tbsp of chilli bean sauce (depends on saltiness)
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional, for hot-heads)
1 tbsp fermented black beans soaked in water
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp of sugar
175ml water
1 heaped tsp of cornflour mixed with a little water
3 stalks of spring onions, whites separated and cut into thumb-length stalks, greens sliced diagonally
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground into a powder

Heat oil in wok add minced beef with the oil and fry until crisp, mashing the beef with the back of a wooden spoon to break it up. Add garlic, whites of spring onions, stir for 10 -15 sec, add the chilli bean paste and black beans, stir till fragrant - then add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, ground pepper, water and chilli flakes

Drain and add the tofu to meat sauce, stir gently and simmer till hot, around 5 minutes. Add the cornflour mixture, and when thickened it’s ready. Transfer onto serving dish and sprinkle with the ground Sichuan pepper. Top with spring onion greens.

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