Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)—A Quick and Easy Recipe


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Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) is one of the Chinese dishes that I make all the time.  It’s a quick and easy weeknight dish that’s packed with wonderful flavors and nutrients.  It’s totally my kind of comfort food.  Many of my friends and readers had been asking me to post more easy, Asian, savory recipes so they can prepare for their families.  So here we go, my friends.  Smile  Best of all, this is one satisfying dish to prepare that won’t break the bank!  Forget about the take-outs.  You’ll have this on your family table before you finish placing an order over the phone!  Winking smile

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There are a few tips about Chinese stir-fry.  It’s quick, easy, and everything cook in a rather fast pace over high-heat.  So, the key is to have all the ingredients pre-prepped.  That way, the ingredients are ready whenever you need to add them to the wok/frying pan.  Don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need a wok to make Chinese stir-fry.  In this particular recipe, I prefer a non-stick pan over the wok. 
One of the main ingredient for Mapo Tofu is the chili sauce.  Different recipes might call for different type of chili sauce.  I personally prefer this (see below) Chili Bean Sauce (ToBan Djan 辣豆瓣醬).  It’s made with chili and fermented soy beans.  The fermented soy beans add a wonderful depth of flavor that you can’t get from the regular chili sauce.  

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Of course another main ingredient in Mapo Tofo is the Tofu.  There are many choices and brands out there.  I grew up with the Vitasoy brand when I was in Hong Kong, so it’s my choice of Tofu whenever they are available.  When cooking Mapo Tofu, I personally prefer to use Silken Tofu.  Silken Tofu, as it’s name suggested, is silky, smooth, velvety and melt in your mouth kind of tofu.  It’s also very fragile.  As suggested on the package, it’s better to use in cold dishes, such as salad, soup, or steaming.  These types of recipes/cooking methods require less stirring.

On the other hand, my hubby always prefers the Soft Tofu, it said “soft” on the package, but actually it’s pretty firm.  If you get it with any other brand, it’s the “firm” one that you want to use.  As suggested on the package, this type of Tofu is good with cooking methods of pan fry or stir fry because the firmer texture in this tofu can withstand the mixing and stirring in the pan without falling apart.  Firm tofu also has a stronger tofu taste because it contains less water.  So, the choice is yours, there’s no right or wrong Tofu.  Smile with tongue out  I almost always use firm tofu for Mapo Tofu now, since that’s what 'the Boss' prefers. 

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As you can see from the pictures below, the tofu holds its shape pretty well even after all the stirring.  So, I guess 'the Boss' is right in his choice of tofu.  Open-mouthed smile 

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Are you ready to get into the kitchen with me?  It’s going to be quick, I promise.  So, here’s what I did:

1) In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients of the Mapo Tofu sauce together until sugar dissolved and there’s no lump from the corn starch, set aside.
2)  The fresh tofu usually packed with a bit of water, drain it well.
3) Cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.  This will be a good time to chop the green onions, if using.
4) Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat.

Pictorial A

5) Sauté pork until golden brown and cooked through; with a wooden spoon/spatula, break ground pork into small pieces when browning.
6) When the ground pork is cooked through, pour the Mapo Tofu sauce into the meat, stir well and cook until the sauce is thicken, about 2 minutes. The sauce will be thick, do NOT attempt to add any water.  After the tofu is in, it’ll create enough sauce, trust me on this one.  Winking smile
7) Fold in tofu and be careful not to break them up too much.
8) When tofu is heated through, remove from heat and stir in green onions.

Pictorial B

See, quick and easy right?  This sauce is simple and divine!  So, stop spending/wasting $3+ for a small package of Mapo Tofu sauce when you can easily make your own at home.  I used to spend that money for the longest time, until I realized how easy it is to create the sauce from scratch.  The good thing about building the sauce from scratch is that you'd know exactly the ingredients that were used.

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I make this for my kids all the time, minus the chili sauce.  So, I always double the ingredients and make one that’s non-spicy for the kids.  It’s just as wonderful.

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If there are any particular Asian dishes that you would love me to post on the blog, feel free to leave a comment or email me directly. 





Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐): (Printable Recipe)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1 (15 oz) package Firm Tofu, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 green onions, chopped

Ingredient for the Mapo Tofu Sauce:
1 tablespoon Chili Bean Sauce (ToBan Djan 辣豆瓣醬)
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon ShaoHsing rice wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients of the Mapo Tofu sauce together until sugar dissolved and there’s no lump from the corn starch, set aside.

In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over high heat. Sauté pork until golden brown and cooked through; with a wooden spoon/spatula, break ground pork into small pieces when browning.

When the ground pork is cooked through, pour the Mapo Tofu sauce into the meat, stir well and cook until the sauce is thicken, about 2 minutes. Fold in tofu and be careful not to break them up too much. When tofu is heated through, remove from heat and stir in green onions.  Best serve hot over rice.

32 comments:

  1. Oh your mapo tofu looks so delicious! I could eat this now on a full stomach. Stunning pictures and one great post!
    Have a wonderful week Amy!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Sandra. Glad you like this recipe. Wish you a wonderful weekend. :)

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  2. You make the look effortless and delicious. Wonderful pictures.

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    1. Thank you, Tammie. Glad you like it. Wish you a beautiful weekend.

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  3. Ooo!! This is one of my favorite dishes, but can never make it taste as good as in restaurants. This recipe does the job!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Belinda. :) Glad you like this dish and recipe. Have a great weekend.

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  4. I can taste that now. All I need is a big bowl of rice and I'm set! ;)

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    1. :) Oh yeah, it's best with a bowl of rice.

      Wish you a great weekend!

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  5. What could be better for the lunch in this freezing weather than a bowl of spicy mapo tofu!

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    1. Totally agree, it's best in this cold weather. :) Wish you a wonderful weekend. Stay warm, Angie. :)

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  6. Oh yum! I haven't tried making my own Mapo Tofu. I only order it in restaurants. This looks easy to do!

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    1. hehe...maybe you should try your hands in it. It's really easy. You might love this better than those in the restaurants. ;) Have a good weekend.

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  7. This was one of my favorite dishes when I was a teenager! I can't have tofu these days (soy allergy), but this recipe brings back some good memories : )

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    1. Sorry about your allergy on tofu. hm....I wonder if there's another ingredient that you can replace it. But good that it brought you back some good memories. Wish you a wonderful weekend.

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  8. Tofu is my favorite ingredient for any savory dish--I love making it at home so I can make a vegetarian variety, but you're absolutely right, Amy--the blend of flavors is amazing! You've inspired me to make this for dinner tonight.

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    1. hm...actually a vegetarian version sounds wonderful too. Perfect for my meatless Monday. :) Have a great weekend.

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  9. Who would have thought tofu could look this pretty? I remembered my mom making something like this (without meat), I'm curious to find out the chilli bean sauce now, is it the same flavour as tauchu? I think thats what my mom usually put in her stirfy.

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    1. Yes, the chili bean sauce should be the same flavor as tauchu, it's just that it's spicy because of the chili added to it. If you like spicy food, this would be the perfect dish to try. ;) I'm sure your Mom's meatless version is just as wonderful.

      Have a great weekend.

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  10. Hi Amy, lovely and delicious tofu dish. Love it,look so good,can I have extra rice? Nice presentation.

    Have a wonderful weekend, regards.

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    1. Yes, definitely need an extra bowl of rice when this Mapo tofu dish is served. ;)

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  11. Love this! Mapo tofu is one of my favorite take-out dishes. So glad I can make it at home though :)

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    1. :) Thank you. Yes, I'm sure the homemade version would be better than the take out ones.

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  12. You have done a much better job than the take away would! I love making something that I can buy :) you know exactly what's in it! It looks beautiful :)

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    1. Thank you, Cass. Yes, I love replicating restaurants food at home, for a healthier and cheaper version. ;) And as you said, know exactly what's in it. I say, great minds thinks alike.

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  13. This is so so good with steamed rice! I enjoy Mapo Tofu a lot and have not cooked it for a while. Now it's time to buy some 辣豆瓣醬 :)

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    1. Oh yeah....this is so good with the steamed rice. :) The 辣豆瓣醬 is just so good in many dishes. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Hope you'll be back soon.

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  14. Howdy Amy! Wowwww....I love tofu alot especially silky soft ones and mapo tofu sounds just terrrific. Honestly, sometimes its not easy to get a perfect tofu for a perfect recipes.
    Hope you're having a wonderful day, dear. Btw, Chinese New Year is just a week away. Hope you'll have a fantastic time.
    Blessings, Kristy

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  15. I LOVE mapo tofu! I`ve only made them using the mix. Haha!

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  16. Hi Amy,

    This is a lovely tofu dish. love mapo tofu. I noticed a lot of Asian recipes call for ShaoHsing wine. Is it necessary? I don't have it at home, is there something else I can use in replacement? I'm just curious.

    Thanks!

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    1. Sorry for the late reply. The ShaoHsing wine is the traditional Chinese cooking wine. It has it's own unique aroma and are available in most Asian supermarkets. But if you don't have any, you can substitute with dry sherry. Hope that helps.

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  17. Best Mapo tofu I've ever had. So easy to make with such a rich flavor. All the others I've had at restaurants always end up so liquidy. The flavor of this one was so good, it didn't even need to be swimming in sauce, which it did not. Definitely going to make this often!

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    1. Thank you so much for your feedback, Colleen. I'm so glad you love the recipe. :) Yes, I don't like the sauce being too watery either. I'm so happy that this one turn out to your liking. Thanks again for trying the recipe. Have a wonderful rest of the week and have fun cooking.

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