mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐) easy made


as seen in foodgawker #12908, 08.01.09 & Serious Eats’ Photograzing

Mapo tofu is a popular Chinese dish which is said to be originated from the Szechuan province. It is a combination of tofu (bean curd) and minced meat, usually pork or beef, in a spicy chili- and bean-based sauce, typically a thin, oily, and bright red suspension. Somehow, the cantonese has adapted the mapo tofu in our own way which the spiceness is well accepted by most people.

I find that it’s not only a popular Chinese dish but also very popular among the Japanese as I found a quick version of the Mapo Tofu sauce made by the Japanese which is great in my opinion and especially when you don’t have time to prepare it from scratch. However, I have finished all these convenient packs and I have made this delicious dish from scratch last night. I always have a pack of tofu in the fridge and some minced pork in the freezer so it’s pretty handy if I crave for this spicy dish. It was said that it is easy to made mapo tofu but to stir fry the bean curd and mince pork at the same time without breaking the pieces of tofu can be quite tricky. There are many types of softness of tofu, try to choose the medium softness one that is not the softness or hardest.

Serves 2

Ingredients (see picture below):

  • 1 Smooth silky Tofu
  • 150g minced pork 
  • 2 tbsp chopped chinese dried mushroom (hydrated)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped Preserved Chinese Radish (炸菜)(see notes and picture below)
  • 1 tbsp Chinese Red Chili sauce (Dou ban jiang 豆瓣醬)
  • 1 tbsp Yellow bean sauce (麵豉)
  • 1/2 tbsp Chinese Rice Cooking Wine
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 shallots sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped spring onion (white and green parts separated)
  • 3 tbsp water

Marinade for the minced pork:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil


  • 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chicken bouillion powder
  • Pinches of white pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Sesame oil


  1. Discard the water in the tofu pack, cut into small cubes and set aside
  2. Marinate the minced pork with the ingredients described above
  3. Prepare the seasoning by mixing the above in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Heat up the wok, add some cooking oil, when it is hot enough, add in the ginger, garlic, shallots, white part of the spring onion preserved cabbage, stir briskly and then add in the minced pork. Stir fry to mix everything together, then add in the chili sauce and yellow bean sauce and lastly the chinese cooking wine, keep stir frying in the meantime.
  5. Slowly add in the water and the prepared seasoning,  turn the heat to medium and bring to boil.
  6. Add in the tofu cubes, gently stir to mix into the sauce and let it boil for about 2-3 mins at medium heat. Use medium high heat to evaporate the liquid if you feel there is too much liquid.
  7. Dissolve 1 tbsp orn flour with a little cold water and add into the sauce to thicken it. Gently stir to mix.
  8. This is now ready. Serve immediately on a deep plate and garnish by sprinkle the chopped spring onion (green parts) on top.
  9. Best to enjoy with steamed jasmine rice.


  1. Since the Chili sauce already contents chili, in theory, it is not necessary to add more chili but if you think this is not  spicy enough for you, you can add dried chili or chili oil to adjust the spiciness.
  2. Chinese Preserved Radish is available in cans or directly from some chinese groceries if you have a China Town near you or if you live in Asia. Otherwise I think most of you will buy the canned ones. Before use, you need to soak the amount you require in water for about 30 mins and then wash and discard the water, this step is important as the radish is too salty to use directly, after this you can chop and use as required. Do not soak the ones you are not going to use, as they can be kept in a bowl, in the fridge for later use. Other use of the preserved radish including steaming with sliced pork or beef. You can also use a few big pieces to prepare a noodle soup base.
  3. Optional ingredients you can also use: 1 tbsp chopped chinese mushrooms, 1 tbsp finely chopped shallots
  4. Remember to use medium heat and not high heat. When adding corn flour liquid to thicken the sauce, you can use medium high heat.

Ingredients for Mapo Tofu

Ingredients for Mapo Tofu

Preserved Chinese Radish

Canned Preserved Chinese Radish, click here for another recipe using this ingredient.


Mapo Tofu and Stir fried broccoli with garlic


18 thoughts on “mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐) easy made

  1. It looks delicious Janet! We are not used to eat tofu here but would love to have a bowl of your soup :D. It’s freezing cold here and a soup is always welcome.

    Hope your Xmas holidays have been great and wish you the best for 2009 ♥

  2. Cool! Happy to hear that it worked and tasted good and even Nils likess it too! Thanks for the feedback!

  3. Nuria, thanks for stopping by! Soup is my all time favorite too! Hope you have a great start in 2009 too!

  4. Now Janet, I would certainly eat this tofu dish. As for cooking with it, I’ll allow someone like you have the spotlight and do it justice.

  5. Janet, Just last week I was looking for a recipe to make mapo tofu. My daughter was visiting and said she would like it, but things got busy. She’s back in Madrid, but I will be trying this soon. I’m glad you included a picture of the preserved radish—I’ll have to search for it.

  6. Oh firstly, Happy New Year 2009 with lots of best wishes, great health and prosperity!Happy Chinese New Year too!

    Your Mapo Tofu is yummy… I must try it soon.

    Preserved Chinese Radish in can? I only found only individual packed in plastic or the sundry shop uncle digs it out from his old earthen jar, wrap in newspaper and drop it your basket or plastic bags 😀 Back home they called it ‘Tai Tou Choy’ [Big Headed Vegetable] 😀 which is greenish and roundish pickled vegetable with chilli powder. At first, I thought it’s made from pickled cabbage core or kale of certain species.

    I have a bad habit of eating pickled cabbages and radishes uncooked. My mom would scolded me… not because the pickles are salty but she won’t have enough to cook for the famly LO L… So silly of me!

  7. Happy New Year to you too ! Earthen jar and wrap in newspaper, you reminds me when I came across this when I was a little kid : ) Hope you will like the recipe : )

  8. Sounds great! I love mapo tofu and make the Japanese version all the time (you can find the recipe on my blog). I’ve also heard that Koreans have their version of mapo tofu. I love that your version has pickled radish in it.

  9. Yes, mine is the cantonese version. I will try the one you suggest for a change next time, will let you know if I like it : )

  10. You found good stuffs!! I’m almost ashamed to keep on asking where you got your stuffs (the canned crab meat – Asian store? the preserved chinese radish?)

    and the mapo tofu looks amazing!

  11. Hehe, actually I got the canned crab meat from Manor, St Jakob. I think you can find it in other Manor too, e.g. Claraplatz? As for the preserved chinese radish, I got it in the Asian store at Rheinfeldenstrasse, probably the other two will have them too? Glad you like the mapo tofu : )

  12. Hey Nice Mapo tofu recipe there. Usually I’ll buy the instant sauce for that..just that today I ran out of that..and have to find some other ways to make it..

    Thanks for the directions!! Although I dun really put all the ingredients that u’ve written down there…it’s still cool.. ^^ and nice.

  13. So nice to hear your mapo tofu turned our nice and you have enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know : )

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