Recipe courtesy of Jerry Traunfeld

Mapo Tofu

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 45 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
Discover the deep umami flavors of this classic Sichuan dish, mapo tofu. Ground pork and tofu are stir-fried with black beans, chili bean paste, and Sichuan peppercorns: a little heat, a little spice and tons of flavor. Get your ingredients chopped-up and ready to go before cooking because this dish comes together fast. Special ingredients can be found online (try and at Asian markets.



  1. Prep: Bring a large pot of water to a simmer (for heating the tofu in step 4). Peel and chop the garlic and ginger. Slice scallions and set aside.
  2. Toast Sichuan peppercorns in a small sauté pan over low heat until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Remove and spread on a towel to cool down. Grind peppercorns to a fine powder in a spice grinder, and set aside for final seasoning. Roughly chop fermented black beans and set aside.
  3. Pork: Preheat wok (or skillet) over high heat until very hot, 1–2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil and swirl around to prevent sticking. Discard oil. Reduce heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon oil, then the pork. Stir-fry the pork, breaking the meat up with a long-handle spoon (or Chinese ladle), being careful not to brown the meat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, then the ginger and garlic. Reduce heat to low, then prepare the tofu.
  4. Tofu: Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Place in a strainer and submerge in the pot of simmering water. Turn heat to low. Let tofu heat in the water while you finish the dish.
  5. Stir-fry: Turn heat under wok to medium-high. Move pork to one side of the wok, then add 1 tablespoon oil and doubanjiang to the bottom. Cook, stirring, until the oil takes on the red color of the doubanjiang, 30 seconds. Add black beans and stir with the oil mixture and pork. Stir in chicken stock, sugar, and chili powder, if using.
  6. Turn heat to high and bring pork mixture to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water to make a slurry. While stirring the simmering pork, swirl in the slurry to thicken the sauce, 30 seconds. Drain tofu and add to pork mixture along with half the scallions, the sesame oil, and ½ teaspoon toasted Sichuan peppercorn (or to taste). Mix gently, so as not to break up the tofu. Garnish with remaining scallions and serve with steamed rice.