Ma Po Tofu is a well known strongly flavored, spicy tofu dish from the province of Sichuan (Szechuan), China. Literal translation means “pocked marked face old lady’s tofu”. “Ma” means pocked marked face, “po” means old lady.
Legend has it that this pocked marked face old lady owned a restaurant on the outskirt of Chendu (the capital of Sichuan) where traders pass. She served this dish that became very popular with the travelers.
Ma also means numb so this dish is also called numbing tofu because of the numbing effect too much chili can cause.
The main ingredients for this dish is tofu with a bit of ground pork (traditional) or ground meat of your choice for flavoring. There are many versions of Ma Po Tofu. Below is my version. Adjust the amount of spice to your liking.
Ma Po Tofu
From “My Students’ Favorite Chinese Recipes updated edition” by Norma Chang
¼ pound ground pork or ground meat of choice
2 teaspoons regular or gluten free soy sauce
1 tablespoon ginger wine
½ teaspoon sugar
Combine all the above well. Can be done the day before and kept refrigerated.
½ – 2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce or to taste
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound firm or extra firm tofu, cut into about ½-inch cubes (see NOTE 1)
1 tablespoons bean sauce or aka (red) miso (see NOTE 2)
2 scallions, mince white part, thinly slice green part for garnish
½ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
¼ cup chicken broth or as needed
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
2 teaspoons cornstarch combined with 1 tablespoon water. Stir well before adding to wok.
1. Add oil to preheated wok or frying pan. Add chili sauce and garlic. Stir fry over high heat for 10 seconds. Add pork, stir-fry until color changes.
2. Stir in tofu, bean sauce, white part of scallions, salt and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes or until tofu is heated through and pork is cooked.
3. Thicken with cornstarch mixture. Stir in sesame oil. Remove to serving platter and garnish with green part of scallion. Serve hot over cooked rice.
NOTE 1: I personally prefer firm tofu for this dish. However if you are cutting the tofu into larger cubes you may want to use extra firm tofu.
NOTE 2: Bean sauce is made from soy beans. I prefer red miso as a substitute as its flavor is similar to bean sauce.
You may also like the following tofu dishes:
Click here for Corn & Tofu Chowder
Click here for Frozen Tofu Fried Rice
Click here for Hoisin Tofu with Nuts & 3 Peppers
Click here for Marinated Tofu, Asparagus & Portabella Mushrooms Stir-fry
Copyright © by Norma Chang
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