Bean Curd Szechuan-Style (Ma Po Dofu)

"Literally translates as" "pock-marked old lady tofu." For more background see Daydream's recipe (which is very different from this one) "recipe #78452" A simpler version from some of the others I have seen on this site. This version is adapted from a Chinese cookbook that my Mandarin tutee gave me as a college graduation gift--"Chinese Cooking" from JG press. It is very helpful to have all of your ingredients prepared and ready to go before you start the wok because it goes very fast from that point on! Where it calls for 'hot bean sauce' I use tobanjan/lajiaojiang (chili bean paste), 'Lan Chi' (lanji in pinyin) brand, but the recipe says you can also substitute two dried red chiles. You can experiment with different tofu to see what keeps its shape the best; I have personally found that the semi-firm, locally made fresh tofu that I can get at the Uwajimaya here holds up well. This recipe reminds me of the tofu that I used to order at one of my favorite restaurants in Shanghai."
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  • Cut bean curd into .5-inch cubes, place in a colander and leave to drain for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl blend the marinade: 1 tsp of soy sauce, sherry, and sweet bean or hoisin sauce; add pork and stir to coat.
  • Stir in 1 tsp of the oil and marinate for 15 minutes.
  • Heat a wok or wide frying pan over high heat.
  • When pan is hot, add remaining veg oil.
  • When oil begins to heat (i.e. passes the "water droplet test" where a sprinkling of water thrown into the oil starts to crackle--careful here) add ginger and garlic.
  • Stir once, then add pork and stir-fry until meat isn't pink any more, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in hot bean sauce (lajiaojiang or tobanjan).
  • Add drained beancurd, the water and the 2 Tbsp soy sauce.
  • Simmer for 3 minutes, then add green onion.
  • Re-mix cornstarch and water with a fork, add to pan and cook, stirring, until sauce bubbles and thickens (this happens very quickly).
  • Sprinkle with crushed szechuan peppercorns just before serving.
  • Serve over large mounds of hot white rice.
  • I have served this along with some stir-fried Chinese broccoli (gai lan) seasoned with a little oyster sauce, or some baby bok choy stir fried with a little sesame oil.
  • For a vegetarian version, this recipe also works if you omit the meat.
  • You could also try using some kind of veggie sausage, like Morningstar crumbles, in place of the pork.

Questions & Replies

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  1. callemoo
    I've made this for years. Substitute ground turkey for pork and also add a splash of sesame oil. Very fast to prepare.
  2. BrotherAdso
    Excellent ma po! I omitted the pork and its marinate to make this vegetarian, and reduced the oil a bit. However, your sauce measurements are right on -- though I think some srichacha might make a good addition. Wo jiao lajiao!


  1. callemoo
    I've made this for years. Substitute ground turkey for pork and also add a splash of sesame oil. Very fast to prepare.


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