Mapo Tofu (vegetarian)

The first time we ordered Mapo Tofu we naively expected it to be a vegetarian dish. It isn’t but we were immediately impressed by the aromas and flavours. The Sichuan pepper gives the dish a floral, citrusy touch. The combination of the silky, soft tofu with the ground pork and the scallions is very rich. It allows for spiciness, but it’s also fine to be modest with the Chili Bean Sauce.

A wonderful, heart-warming dish, but not vegetarian. We replaced the meat with mushrooms (shiitake turned out to be the best choice) and we think it’s a lighter, equally tasty but different, version of Mapo Tofu.

Sichuan pepper is not related to black pepper or chili. It’s actually not spicy. It causes a pleasant numbing sensation on your tongue and lips, for a few minutes only, which is surprisingly nice when eating spicy food. We recommend lightly toasting the peppers before grinding or crushing them.

Drink Pairing

Jasmine tea is an obvious choice. It has a nice aroma and floral taste. The combination with the spices and the Sichuan pepper works really well.

What You Need

  • 250 grams of mixed Mushrooms (with lots of Shiitake)
  • 300 grams of Silken Tofu
  • 200 ml Vegetarian Stock
  • 2 tablespoons light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin
  • 3 teaspoons Sesame Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 small Onion
  • 2 Scallions
  • 3 teaspoons of chopped Fresh Ginger
  • ½ -1 tablespoon Chili Bean Sauce (Douban, Toban-Djan)
  • 1-2 teaspoons Black Bean Sauce (Douchi)
  • 1 teaspoon of Sichuan Pepper
  • Oil
  • Cornstarch

What You Do

Toast the Sichuan peppers lightly in a non-stick pan. Remove the peppers from the pan and let cool. Chop the shallot, the garlic and the fresh ginger. Slice the scallions and separate the white from the green. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Slice the tofu and make cubes (2 cm, 1 inch). Warm the stock. Add oil to the pan and fry the mushrooms. After a few minutes, add soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil. Combine and leave to simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the pan and keep warm in the oven at 50 °C or 120 °F. Grind the Sichuan peppers coarsely.
Add oil to the pan. Fry the white part of the scallions, the onion, the garlic and the ginger. Mix. Add the chili bean sauce and fry. Enjoy the aromas! Add half of the grounded Sichuan pepper. Add the stock, the tofu, the mushrooms and the black bean sauce. Use a spatula to mix. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes or so until the sauce is nicely reduced and the flavours mixed. In the meantime, finely crush the remaining Sichuan pepper. Use cornstarch to create the right consistency. Just before serving sprinkle with Sichuan pepper and the green of the scallions.

Side Dish

Serving Mapo Tofu with rice is a great idea. We enjoyed it with some Bok Choy (Pak Choi) simmered in Oyster Sauce.

What You Need

What You Do

Wash and slice the bok choy. Separate the green from the white. Fry the white of the bok choy in olive oil for a few minutes. Then add Thai oyster Sauce and water. Taste and add some soy sauce. Leave for a few minutes. Adjust by adding Thai oyster sauce or soy sauce. Just before serving add the green of the bok choy and mix.

Mapo Tofu (Vegetarian) ©cadwu
Mapo Tofu (Vegetarian) ©cadwu

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