Mapo Dofu


Mapo dofu means ‘pockmarked old lady’, and references the curdled texture of the tofu used in this Sichuan dish. The secret to the spicy pork sauce is the chilli bean paste called toban jiang, which is made from fermented broad beans, garlic and chilli. The Japanese do their own version (mabo don) featuring a similar combination. This makes a quick weekday meal spooned up over rice.

Prep 10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes


  • 200 g (10½ oz) silken tofu
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced pork or beef
  • 4 spring onions (scallions)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns

Chilli Sauce

  • tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 250 ml 9 fl oz) stock
  • 3 tbsp toban jiang (hot chilli bean paste)
  • 2 tbsp roasted chilli flakes in oil, drained, plus extra
  • steamed rice, to serve


Drain the tofu and place in thick paper towels to remove the excess water. Slice into 3 cm ( inch) cubes and set aside.

In a large wok, heat half the oil. Brown the meat until crisp on the edges, about 5 minutes. Drain any excess oil. Scrape the meat out of the pan and add the remaining oil. Chop the white spring onions and pan-fry with the garlic and ginger until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the meat back in and stir together.

To make the chilli sauce, mix the cornflour with 2 tablespoons water, then mix all the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

In a small frying pan, toast the Sichuan peppercorns for 30 seconds and then grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Pour the sauce over the meat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Just before eating, add the tofu pieces and let simmer for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped green spring onions and Sichuan peppercorns.

Serve the mapo dofu over steamed rice with an extra dollop of roasted chilli flakes.