Mapo Dofu (Mapo Tofu)

I’m in love. This is my favorite Chinese dish to make, hands down. Read on for a hearty and mildly spicy vegan-friendly dish (I hear adding bits of ground pork makes it carnivore-friendly, and you can increase the spiciness for all you spicy-hot lovers). This makes about four servings.


  • 1 block of tofu (I’ve tried it with sprouted, firm, medium, and soft tofu. It depends on the texture of tofu you prefer; I like lots of texture so I use the sprouted, extra firm variety)
  • 1 lb. finely chopped fresh mushrooms (I like to split it 50-50 between portabellas and shiitakes, but I’ve used only portabellas when the shiitakes were out of season. It’s just as good!)
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • 2-3 tbsp. peanut oil (can substitute olive oil or canola oil)
  • 1.5 tsp. fermented black beans (I know their name is weird, but they are salty little nuggets of delicious flavor.)


  • 1 tbsp. chili bean sauce (do 2 tbsp. if you like it spicy)


  • 0.25 tsp. ground szechuan pepper (commonly called “prickly ash” at the Asian grocery, increase up to 1 tsp. for added spiciness)


  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. cold water
  • 4-5 thinly sliced green onions
  • cooked white rice (as much as you like)


  1. Make the rice. Let it cook while you’re making the rest of this dish.
  2. Dice the tofu block into small pieces. Set aside so it can drain.
  3. Saute the minced garlic and ginger in hot oil until they’re browned.
  4. Add the mushrooms. Saute until they’re fully cooked.
  5. Add chili bean sauce, black beans, optional red szechuan pepper flakes.  Stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, and tofu. Do a taste test to see whether you’d like more spiciness (more pepper flakes) or saltiness (more soy sauce).
  7. Cover frying pan, turn heat down to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Add cornstarch to the desired thickness.
  9. Serve with the white rice, topped with the scallions.