Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mapo Tofu (Spicy Tofu)

Fresh blocks of tofu are easy to find these days.  I buy Trader Joe’s Organic Tofu, which has a firmer texture and therefore holds up better during stir frying.  However, if you use a regular (non-organic) block of tofu, it could be a bit softer and may not hold its shape as well.  To help avoid this, after you cut your tofu into ½” cubes, add them to a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain completely before using in this recipe.  Or, just buy "Firm" tofu.

Serves 4
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek chili paste* (found in Asian section of most supermarkets)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper*
2 teaspoons corn starch
4 teaspoons cold water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ounces ground pork**
19 ounces fresh tofu, drained and cut into ½” cubes
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Steamed white rice or brown rice

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, chili paste, salt, and cayenne pepper; set aside.  In a smaller bowl, dissolve the corn starch in the water; set aside.  Heat vegetable oil in a large wok or deep sauté pan over high heat.  Add ground pork, breaking into smallest pieces possible, and stir-fry until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.  Add tofu, gently stir-fry for about 30 seconds; add reserved sauce and stir-fry until sauce is evenly distributed, about 1 minute.  Add chicken broth; continue to stir fry for about 1 minute.  Add corn starch and water mixture; stir fry until sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; sprinkle with green onions.  Serve over steamed white rice or brown rice.

*Note: this is a 4 star spicy dish; to alter the spiciness down to 3 stars or 2 stars, decrease the amounts of red cayenne pepper and chili paste to 2/3 or ½ the amounts listed  in the recipe.

**Another note:  the smallest quantities of ground pork at the grocery store come in packages ranging from ½ pound to ¾ pound.  (If you don’t have a kitchen scale to measure 2 ounces and want to go by a “visual measure”, it’s about ¼ cup of ground pork).  What do you do with the leftover ground pork?  Divide it up into individual 2 ounce portions and freeze for next time.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap first, then wrap again in aluminum foil.  Store all these little packages in a large re-sealable bag in the freezer.  They will thaw out quickly for the next time you make Mapo Tofu.


  1. hmmm... that looks good! Can you make that for me for my 1/2 birthday?

  2. Love tofu!! sounds fab, will make this soon and report back. Family has liked all dishes so far.

  3. Love, love, love this dish! It was a big hit with the family--no leftovers! Thank you Mary....Cay

  4. Make this dish once a month and tinker with the heat. Perfect dish for my hungry athlete when she comes home from tonight. Thanks Mary!