Ma Po Doufu

Grandma Chen’s Bean Curd

Photo: ckbk instagram

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as Part of a Chinese Meal, or 2 as a Single Dish.

Appears in

The Taste of China

By Ken Hom

Published 1990

  • About

Foodlore credits Grandma Chen as the creator of many traditional dishes in Sichuan. They show a genius for blending spicy, peppery, hot, tender, fresh, and fragrant ingredients so they can be tasted individually and as an ensemble in a kind of food fugue. Take this recipe for instance. Its essence lies in its seasonings and condiments, their quality, and the care taken in cooking them with the bean curd and beef. This achieves tenderness and contrasting spiciness, while adding garlic at the end of cooking enhances the balance of the whole dish.


  • 450 g/1 lb fresh soft bean curd
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 225 g/8 oz minced beef
  • 2 tablespoons whole yellow bean sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground red chilli powder
  • 350 ml/12 fl oz chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour mixed with 1 tablespoon water


Gently cut the bean curd into 4-cm/½-in cubes.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the oil and beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes to partially cook. Put in the whole yellow bean sauce, soy sauce, and salt and continue to stir-fry for another minute. Add the chilli powder and continue to stir-fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the stock, add the bean curd and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cornflour mixture and cook for another minute. Ladle the mixture into a serving bowl, garnish with the Sichuan peppercorns, and serve.


  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and finely ground