Mapo Tofu Recipe: Try This Famous Chinese Dish By Chef Jagadish Purushothama
Image Credit: By Chef Jagadish Purushothama

Mapo tofu's origin can be traced to a couple surnamed Chen (in 1862) who ran a small eatery in north Chengdu near Wanfu Bridge, also known as Chen Xingsheng Restaurant. Its taste, cost and expediency with rice made Mapo tofu a Chinese fare staple, spreading nationally. You'll be amazed to know that this was when the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was in rule. Very few claim that the dish existed as early as in the capital city of Sichuan province (a suburb of Chengdu in 1254). 

Mapo tofu belongs to the Sichuan province, which later became a famous Chinese dish. It comprises tofu placed in a tangy dressing, generally an oily, bright red and thin suspension, based on chilli paste, minced meat (traditionally beef) and fermented broad black beans. Deviations exist with different ingredients such as onions, water chestnuts, wood ear fungus or other vegetables.


  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Portion/size: 2


  1. Mushrooms (button/shiitake mushrooms): 100 grams
  2. Spring Onions (chopped): 50 grams
  3. Silken or soft tofu: 250 grams
  4. Onions (fine chopped): 1 no
  5. Dry red chilli: 6 TO 10 no’s
  6. Black Bean Sauce: 2 Tblsp
  7. Dark Soya sauce: 2 Tblsp
  8. Ginger (minced): 2 Tblsp
  9. Garlic (minced): 2 Tblsp
  10. Oyster Sauce: 2 Tblsp
  11. Corn flour: 50 grams
  12. Rice vinegar: 1 Tblsp
  13. Oil: 2 Tblsp


  1. Use the tofu in a plastic container and drain the tofu block by removing it from its package. Next, cut the tofu into 3/4-inch cubes.
  2. Add 1 litre of water and salt to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Remove the saucepan from heat.
  3. Drop the tofu into the hot water and let it rest for about 2 minutes, and drain.

Method of Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a cooking pan or wok over medium-low to low heat.
  2. Add minced garlic-ginger and cook until the raw flavour is gone.
  3. Add onions, cook until translucent, add mushrooms and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add water or vegetable stock and bring it to a boil.
  5. Add all the sauces and the dry chilli and bring it to a boil.
  6. Check for seasoning and add salt, sugar and pepper as needed.
  7. Drain the tofu from the hot water and add it to the sauce in the pan.
  8. Check for the seasoning once again and add corn slurry.
  9. Portion the mapo tofu into the bowl and drizzle the sesame oil over the tofu.
  10. Garnish the dish with spring onions and serve hot.