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Mapo Tofu Vegan and with Meat (Chinese Recipe)

This Mapo Tofu recipe is a popular Chinese dish from Sichuan Province (Szechuan), where spicy food is the queen and the characteristic spice of the region, Sichuan peppercorn, gives it a unique flavor.

Whatever its origin, Mapo Tofu has left Szechuan Province and spread throughout the world. The dish has taken many forms as restaurants and takeaways have given it their own spin, often reducing spice levels, adding different vegetables and transforming the dish into something completely different, where the hot sauce covers the soft cubes of silky tofu, the tasty pieces of meat, the chives and seasonings of this delicious dish. I also show you in the recipe a vegan option below in case you don’t want the meat dish.



  • 500 g mixed minced meat
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 teaspoons potato starch
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sesame or sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground Sichuan pepper
  • 6 teaspoons chilli, or hot pepper paste
  • 1,500 g firm tofu
  • 4 fresh scallions / chives
  • 100 ml chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoon chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons catsup
  • Salt
  • Sugar

How is Mapo Tofu made with meat?

  1. In a non-metallic bowl, put the minced meat, and add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, a pinch of salt, sugar, Sichuan pepper and sesame oil.
  2. Mix with your hands, cover it with film paper (transparent kitchen plastic), and let it sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the tofu into slices, cutting it into squares 1 inch thick.
  4. Chop the garlic and chives. Reserve.
  5. In a glass dissolve the potato or potato starch in a little cold water. Reserve.
  6. In a wok pan put a little olive oil, and sauté the garlic and chives until golden. Add the marinated meat and cook it.
  7. Add the chicken broth, the chili paste and the tablespoon of ketchup, let it cook for a minute and add the starch mixed with water to thicken the sauce.
  8. Add the tofu cut into cubes and cook for 3 more minutes.
  9. Serve in a deep dish and decorate with chopped chives.


This meatless version with shiitake mushrooms or fresh mushrooms is completely satisfying and surprisingly easy to make. For the best texture, use soft tofu instead of firm, taking care to cook it gently to prevent it from falling apart.


  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms or mushrooms
  • 2 cups water
  • 15-ounce piece of soft tofu (don’t use silky)
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 small dry hot red peppers
  • 1 tablespoon fermented black beans, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fermented spicy bean paste (doubanjiang)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame or roasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground Sichuan pepper
  • 1 tablespoon corn or potato starch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions or scallions, both white and green
  • Coriander twigs, to decorate

How is Vegan Mapo Tofu made?

  1. Remove the stems of the mushrooms. Make a light mushroom broth by simmering the stems over low heat in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve the broth (discard the stems). Dice the mushroom tops and set them aside.
  2. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Cover with boiling water with salt, let stand for 15 minutes and then drain.
  3. Put oil in a wok or wide skillet over medium heat. Add the red peppers, black beans and bean paste; cook, stirring until seasoned, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger letting them be incorporated into the mixture, then add the mushrooms, soy sauce, sesame oil and Sichuan pepper. Add 1 1/2 cups of mushroom broth and cook the mixture gently for 2 minutes.
  4. Carefully add the tofu cubes. Distribute the sauce, with the help of a wooden spoon, trying to avoid breaking the tofu. Sprinkle the cornstarch mixture, stirring gently in the pan to incorporate and the sauce will thicken. Simmer the tofu in the sauce for 2 more minutes. Dilute with some mushroom broth if necessary. We pass it to a serving bowl and sprinkle it with chives and coriander sprigs.

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