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Chinese dish Mapo Dofu

The finished dish, yum!

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I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite Chinese Dishes, Mapo Dofu. This recipe is from my Mom who learned it from a Chinese chef over 30 years ago. Over the years she has made a few changes here and there. The process is not that complicated, but this dish requires some specific Chinese ingredients and spices. But don’t worry. You can buy most of them at an Asian grocery store, or even in a big grocery store in the US or in some countries in Europe. I also tried to put suggestions for substitutes for some ingredients. I’ve lived in countries where these ingredients are not always available and I’ve learned to improvise and be a bit flexible when I cook.

Doubanjiang, Chinese Sweet bean sauce, sake, soy sauce, and chicken stock (front)

Tricky ingredients (left to right): Doubanjiang, Chinese Sweet Bean Sauce, sake, soy sauce, and chicken stock (front)

Some ingredients may seem unfamiliar at first but I’ll be introducing more recipes that use the same ingredients in the future. Before you know it you’ll have Chinese chili paste in your fridge all the time :)

One tip before we start! This dish can be a Donburi Menu Part 2, if you put Mapo Doufu on top of a bed of rice in a bowl. In Japan, we call it Mabo Don (shortened from Donburi). You can serve as a regular dish or make it as Mabo Don as you like! Let’s get started!

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • Tofu (firm): 1 pack
  • Minced pork: 100g
  • Leak or French onion (finely chopped: 3 Tablespoons)
  • Ginger (finely chopped: 1 Tablespoon)
  • Garlic (finely chopped: 1 teaspoon)
  • Chicken broth 250cc

Spices

  • Doubanjiang or chili paste (Chinese spicy and salty paste made of fermented beans) More Info: 1 Tablespoon (or more if you like a super spicy dish)
  • Chinese Sweet Bean Sauce, More Info: 2 teaspoons
  • Douchi (Chinese fermented black beans) More Info: 2 teaspoons- if it’s not available, you can live without it!
Douchi Black Beans

This is what those strange sounding fermented beans look like!

  • Soy sauce: 1 Tablespoon
  • Shaoxing wine, More Info (or Japanese sake): 1 Tablespoon – if it’s not available, you can live without it!
  • Starch: 2 Tablespoons mixed with 4 Tablespoons of water
  • Chili oil (or Rayu) More Info: to taste, more if you like it spicy
  • Shichuan pepper, More Info (or ground pepper)

How to cook (cooking time: 20-25 min)

Squeezing the liquid out of tofu

Squeezing the liquid out of tofu

(1)   Finely chop Leak (or French onion), ginger, and garlic. Rinse and finely chop Douchi.

(2)   Wrap tofu with a dish cloth and put some kind of weight on top to get rid of the moist of the tofu. Cut into 2cm cubes.

(3)   Heat the wok (you can use a deep fry pan if it’s all you have), put in 2 Tablespoons of oil, and fry garlic, leak, and ginger slowly with a medium heat.

(4)   Add minced meat and cook them together on high. Once the meat turns whitish, add Doubanjiang and mix it into the meat. Add Douchi and Chinese sweet bean sauce and continue mixing.

(5)   Add soy sauce, shaoxing wine (or sake), and chicken broth and cook until the sauce starts boiling. Add Tofu and continue cooking on low heat for 5 min or so.

(6)   Add the starch mixed with water into the wok to thicken the sauce.

(7)   Add Chili oil and Shichuan pepper (ground pepper) and serve on a plate.

Mapo Dofu cooking in the pan

Yup, just that simple. It's all ready, enjoy.

Eat with rice and enjoy!

Did you like this recipe? Leave a comment and let others know how it turned out.

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8 Responses to “Mapo Doufu Recipe, Spicy Tofu and Pork (in Japan, commonly called Mabo Doufu)”

  1. linaNo Gravatar says:

    I so love mabo tofu! But I can only eat the”kosher” version of it. No pork. :D

    Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it out. ;)

  2. saraNo Gravatar says:

    i am a new wife learning to cook, I have made this many times and its always a hit.. Easy and tasty

  3. sounds yummy, even if it’s a meat dish :) not sure if I have the courage to try it alone though ;) perhaps I can watch you make it first :)

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      You can do it Laura. It would be fun to see you cook it and we can let you know how it tastes :) When it gets warmer i am going to write up a Guide to Japanese BBQs and of course we will have to have one to take all the pictures!

  4. JasonNo Gravatar says:

    Todd,
    This sounds really good. As soon as I get a kitchen, I’m going to try it.
    Thanks,
    Jason

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jason, great. Let us know how it turns out. All of these dishes are from my wife. I guess I need to find a way to display the author on each post as someone recently thought is was my Mom that learned the dish from a Chinese chef 30 years ago :) Kay’s mom is Japanese which is a bit closer.

  5. Andy WasselNo Gravatar says:

    Ron here- I would cook it tonight but Andy is in NH with her family. Living large in RI with Peach. Much love to both. Dad

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