Mapo Tofu Recipe – Pai’s Kitchen – Chinese Recipe

Mapo Tofu Recipe – Pai’s Kitchen – Chinese Recipe

hey everyone and welcome to Pai’s Kitchen, today I am making one of my favorite Chinese dishes ever and turns out it’s
Adams favorite Chinese dish as well I am talking about Mapo tofu soft tofu in a
rich flavorful meat sauce that’s spicy with a touch of numbness it’s a
specialty of Sichuan cuisine and it’s super easy to make but there are a few
ingredients that you have to get to know but it’s nothing difficult and most of
these are widely available at Asian grocery stores so let’s get started I’m
gonna go over some key ingredients real quick first and most importantly Sichuan peppercorns so these are responsible for the numbing sensation
that I was referring to earlier so numbness on your tongue is a unique
characteristic of Sichaun cuisine that they’re very proud of it’s becoming really
popular in Thailand now too there are two types of Sichuan peppercorns one is
green and the other one is red you can use either for this I personally prefer
the red I find the flavor is a little bit more citrusy equally important is
this thing right here this is broad bean paste that’s spicy which I think in
Cantonese is pronounced douban jiang this is the only brand that I can get in
my grocery store but there are other brands out there as well you don’t have
to use this brand this is salty spicy it’s got a fermented miso-esque flavor
absolutely delicious and a must-have in this dish this next one I really like it
in this dish but it is optional this is fermented black beans which are actually
soy beans and it’s called douci in Cantonese I just gave them a quick rinse
and roughly chopped them you can find them in bags like this ok and they’ll
come like whole beans just like that finally I want to talk about the tofu
real quick for this you want something soft and silky but the super soft one I
find too soft and it will fall apart easily in your dish so this one I think
is perfect at my store they call this smooth tofu sometimes it’s called
traditional tofu and it’s got just the perfect amount of
sort of smoothness softness and it’s you know it’s got just the right amount of
wobbliness it’s not gonna fall apart if you poke at it but it’s got a little bit
of jiggle that’s what you’re going for okay so I’ve toasted my Sichuan peppercorns
I’m just gonna give it a grind in my mortar and pestle here there we go
you’re gonna still kind of get little flakes but don’t worry about that as
long as there are no big lumps you’ll be fine
I’m gonna start by sauteing my ground beef so I’m using ground beef but you
can use ground pork not adding any oil because I do want to render out the fat
from the beef Oh I’m also gonna season my beef I almost forgot with some soy
sauce just want to break it up let it do its thing and even though you’re beef is
done make sure you allow the liquid to evaporate because you want the meat to
brown a little bit develop some flavor and it won’t do that as long as you’ve
got some liquid still and that looks good to me
you’ve got some browning going on I’m gonna turn this off and I’ll just set
this aside for now and as you can see I don’t actually have too much fat in
there which means I’m gonna have to add a little bit of oil but I always like to
do this first just sometimes your beef isn’t that lean and you actually end up
get enough fat that you don’t need to add any more all right so now the fun
begins I’m gonna add a little more oil so I have enough to saute my herbs going
in now with some ginger and garlic finely finely chopped there we go
scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom my garlic is soft and starting to
brown a little bit I’m gonna add my dry spices so I’ve got some black pepper,
black pepper and beef I mean so good together, the Sichuan peppercorns, but I’m
only gonna add half and then I’ll leave the other half for sprinkling on
top and it’s also wise to do this if you’re serving guests because some
people find the numbness really disconcerting and they don’t like
it so I like to keep this mild and then leave the the people to decide whether
they want more or not my douci goes in
and chili bean paste couple tablespoons of that give that a quick saute just to
get everything all infused together Oh smells amazing! deglazing with some
stock this is unsalted either pork or chicken stock you can also just do water
in this case I find it’s such a flavorful dish that even if you did use
water it’s fine, of course it’s always better with stock very nice this is
optional but I’m adding some Chinese cooking wine because I happen to have it
and I think it adds an extra layer of complexity if you don’t have it don’t
worry about it, and to balance all the saltiness we just added, some sugar
the beef going back in now I like to let this simmer for another five minutes or
so to allow the flavor to really mingle and marry so the beef absorbs some of
the flavor from the sauce and the sauce gets some beefiness. check this out that looks so flavorful now it’s a little thin right now so I am
going to add some cornstarch slurry so I’ve just mixed a tablespoon of
cornstarch with some water and we’re gonna add just half at a time and just
see where I’m at and you want to be stirring as you add otherwise you get a
big clump and you want to bring it back to a boil before you judge its
consistency because the cornstarch won’t reach its full thickening potential
until it’s boiling you don’t want it overly thick but you do want it to
have some body to it to hold on to the tofu maybe a splash more now that looks
good mmm just give it a taste for seasoning you
want to do this before you add your tofu because once you add your tofu you don’t
want to be stirring it like adding things stirring it because the tofu’s
gonna fall apart so you want to do all your adjustment right now oh that’s good Wow coincidentally I
think the saltiness and the sweetness is just exactly where I need it to be but
if you find that you need to have a little more soy sauce that would be
totally normal it just depends on how far you’ve
reduced the sauce and so on and so forth so now the tofu goes in so I’ve just cut
it into big cubes and just slide everybody in I’m just gonna gently nudge
them so they’re sitting in the sauce give this a jiggle there we go and then
I want to let this simmer for another few minutes to give the tofu time to
absorb some of that flavor and then we’re done how easy is that
so to finish this off as an option you can drizzle some chili oil
it makes it look nicer but also I think it could also use a little extra
spiciness but if you find it already spicy enough you can skip this yes and
chili oil you can buy or you can make I will include instructions on how to make
your own chili oil in the written recipe some green onions for some freshness and
greenery oh yes as an option you can use some of that Sichuan peppercorns that
we saved to do a final garnish and that is it how beautiful is that now all you
need is some hot white rice and you’re good to go oh yes look at that now make
sure you open up the tofu and let it air out a little bit because hot tofu burns
your mouth like crazy and this happens to me so many times already it’s such a flavor explosion it’s salty
spicy the numbing by the way doesn’t hit you until after a little bit but what I
love about this dish is all that flavorful meatiness gets mixed with the
creamy tofu that breaks apart in your mouth and it’s just the perfect texture
and once you gather all the ingredients it’s so easy to put together it lasts a
long time you can take it to work tomorrow for lunch I mean your kids will
love it if you make it a little less spicy it is just an all-around terrific
dish so I hope you give this a try and when you make it send me a photo on
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your next delicious adventure

100 thoughts on “Mapo Tofu Recipe – Pai’s Kitchen – Chinese Recipe”

  1. Very good demo! I just love this very recipe and just bought the marpo bean paste. This vid is a special bonus from you because I didn't know how to start if not for you.Thank you very much.

  2. Taylor Holiday and her adopted daughter import very high quality Sichuan ingredients as a labor of love. They have just gotten in a shipment of 3 year old Pixian Douban Jiang which is out of this world. Many more high quality ingredients. I have been growing my own red Sichuan peppercorns for the last few years which have all the fresh flavors that are lost in the heat sterilized versions. The laws have changed though and sterilization is no longer required. Taylor’s last batch were as good as my home grown. ( almost ). I travelled to Chong Ching years ago and got a taste of the real thing. Been trying to recreate it ever since. I use Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Land of Plenty as my jumping off point. Btw, more red oil, or oil to pick up the red from more Douban Jiang. It is nice to let the tofu simmer in the red oily broth before you gently add the starch slurry. I also add a thinly sliced leek ( can’t find the Chinese ones here ) just before the tofu goes in.

  3. You can start the stir fry with the doubanjiang before the other aromatics to get that red oil on top. Love this dish!

  4. Please excuse me, but shouldn't the fermented black beans be added at the same time as the garlic, ginger, and toubanjan? You displayed them, but I didn't see you add them into the dish. BTW… this is one of my all-time favorite Szechwan dishes, and I make it at least once a month!

  5. it looks amazing! but i've always seen that the blanch the tofu to harden it a little bit and also they put a li'l bit of chinise black vinegar

  6. Very nice traditional version. You can also finish with a drizzle of sesame oil and a teaspoon of chinese black vinegar. There is no need to remove the browned meat. Just add the aromatics to the meat in the wok and continue with the black beans and doban jang.

  7. I love Mapo Tofu! I was told by a Chinese friend of mine that many people mistakenly use that type of doubanjiang from Lee Kum Lee; you should look out for Pixian Doubanjiang if you want a more authentic experience. If I can buy it in Spain, you must be able to find it in Canada! That said, I'm sure your version still tastes amazing! 🙂

  8. Pai, if i cant get the chilli paste you r using here, can i substitute to any kind of chilli paste or not??

  9. Thumbnail brought me My mom loves tofu..,, I'm going to tell her about your channel… Oh yeaah she is going to l love it.

  10. Wow Your video production is so simple with a great photography and video editing. I’m catching up all of your old contents and they inspire me.
    Ps. Food is always amazing!
    Thank you khun Pai!

  11. Thank you for the amazing recipes 🙂 Could you do a video about/explain using induction cooktops to cook, especially with woks?

  12. Mapo Tofu is like the Sichuan version of Filipino Adobo — it's a beloved staple dish where everyone has their "version" and their own tricks; no two dishes will ever be identical. And I'm sure people will fight over which region's interpretation is better, et cetera. 🙂

    No disrespect to anyone from Chengdu — I don't quite get the appeal of the "numbing" sensation (it makes my water taste like soap while I'm eating), so I don't bother adding the peppercorns to my recipe, but try to honor the simplicity and "flavor bomb" nature of the dish in every other way by substituting these specific chilies with oils.

    First of all, I use ground pork (about 80:20 ratio of protein to fat) — and I grind some black pepper into that. I then stir in my green onions and sesame oil.

    As the meat cooks in the onions and sesame oil, I scoop in what I would refer to as "an appropriate (comical) amount" of Dynasty's Garlic-Chili Oil (which gives the dish the desired red color and a subtle flavor of garlic); probably four times what you've used in your recipe, and introduced during the cooking process rather than simply at the end. I mostly use the oil but do mix in about a tablespoon of the fried garlic and chili at the bottom of the jar. Next, I stir in my grated ginger (and add more as the dish simmers away) — probably two finger's worth at least.

    I should note: rather than using a thickening agent, I depend upon the grated ginger and pork fat / collagen to thicken up the dish towards the end, once the "broth" has mostly evaporated (leaving me with more of a gravy-like consistency).

    G K below is correct: you should track down Chinese Doubanjiang (which also adds the red color); however, I cut mine with the fermented black beans you use, as well as Healthy Boy Brand (Pai's favorite :P) fermented bean paste / sauce:

    I find that the Healthy Boy soy beans add a more savory profile to the meat that isn't just the strong Extreme Salt and MSG you'd get from the black beans. I've taste tested this with many people and they've always preferred this variation.

    Also, during the initial "browning" phase (I don't go for too much color on this one as I fear drying out the meat), I add a tablespoon of tomato paste (color, MSG), sugar (as needed to balance out the sharpness of the ginger or the nuttiness of the sesame oil).

    After that, I de-glaze with Shaoxing wing and add chicken "essence" (which is the building block of every Chinese sauce :P) in the form of powder or Better Than Bouillon; using enough liquid to just barely cover the meat in my wok.

    Also, because ground meat is traditionally made from the tougher cuts with sinew and connective tissues, I will typically simmer my dish for over an hour (or until the meat is tender) before finishing with my tofu (which is added during the final twenty minutes).

    It is one of my specialty dishes and I'm a bit of a perfectionist about it. Maybe I'll make a video about it, some day.

    Thanks for sharing your recipes. I hope someone will try my version using their own know-how (sorry I didn't provide absolute specific measurements — I feel this dish is more about the taste of the person preparing it).

  13. Thanks for the tips about cutting up the cooked hot tofu. It absorbs so much heat.
    This is really one Chinese comfort food recipe if it's mild spicy version.

  14. Have to say this is the most authentic version of Mapo Tofu as far as I have seen on Youtube. Always get shocked by Pai's ability to recreate Asian recipes from different countries without much nonsense twists on it so as to keep it classic and authentic. Was a bit concerned that this would be disappointing as most of other food bloggers were when I saw the notification of this video..but absolutely amazing as always!

  15. Where do you buy such "clean" and seedless(?) Szechuan peppercorns? Can those seeds be left in when dry-toasting and grinding? Or do we have to pick them out?

  16. this is a really great recipe – a far cry from most restaurant versions. i think the szechuan pepper will surprise nonasian eaters! i agree the red is better. it is such a crazy but wonderful spice!

  17. Tried it with a mix of button and shiitake mushrooms instead of beef (four dried shiitakes and used the dehydrating water as a sub for the broth) and it turned out great! Best I've made so far

  18. Can we look forward to another English Thai language lesson Pai.

    I love your intelligent, educated style.

    Here are some links to other styles of lessons.

  19. This is like last meal stuff for me. My favorite dish on the planet. Just want to warn people that try to make this about the salt. Depending on the tonban jang, fermented black beans, stock, use of soy (often dark soy the Chinese use), can get you a really salty end product. We nowadays assemble it all and at the end see if we even need to add soy beyond a bit of color.

  20. พูดเก่งจังครับ เพิ่งมาเจอแชลแนลนี้ ฟังเพลินมากๆฝึกภาษาไปในตัว

  21. Hello! Just want you to know youre my fave food vlogger here on youtube! Youre genuine and not boring to watch at all. And the dishes you cook uggghhh so good!! All the best!! 💙☺️

  22. Used to think it's quite hard to make but got a bit confident after seeing your video Pailin 😊.
    One question, any other option to substitute the chinese cooking wine ?

  23. What do you mean by "numbness" ? The word means "lack of feeling". Is that what you mean? Ive eaten tons of Sechuan food and I never felt numbness. I did eat it with lots of hot spice and it gave me a burning sensation, but I definitely felt it. And the flavor was delicious.

  24. Dear Pailin

    My name is Cathrin. I like all your dishes as I like Thai foods 👍👍

    I have tried a Thai dish in Vietnam at Thai Express restaurant which is very popular reataurant in Hochiminh city
    The dish is called Tau foo Si ew dam ( taufu in dark soy sauce ), it is so delicious.

    I would like to ask you if it is really Thai dish ? If it is, do you show me how to cook it to enjoy at home because I am not living in Vietnam to be at Thai express again

    Thanks for your respond


  25. Tau hoo Si Ew Dam is staty, sweet, salty, soury, very nice
    I have a picture as well but don’t know how to send it to you.

  26. Here is the website with menu, you wil find that dish : Tau hoo Si Ew Dam ( Tau Hoo – dark soy tofu )

    Hope to have your soon respond


  27. I made this dish twice, first time with beef, second time with pork and I found pork is more tasty!
    This is one of my favorite Chinese dish to order at the restaurant now I can make it at home. Thank you so much for this video and loved all your video.

  28. Thanks for sharing, Pailin!

    I couldn't find these ingredients in Bangkok. So, I bought a read-made mapo tofu paste. It tastes nothing but MSG. So disgusting! Sorry, it's not your recipe, Pailin. It's the paste I bought. I'm writing this down here to warn other people about these ready-made paste.

    Avoid ready-made mapo tofu past at all cost, guys. Especially the ones with Thai texts on the box. Don't let the Japanese texts on the front fool you. They usually have Thai texts on the back. The worst thing is there's no nutrition facts on the box. I guess Thailand has no regulation about it.


    You can't cut the tofu with a knife. If you do that you cut the flavor. You have to tear the tofu apart with your hands.

  30. What's your opinion on cornstarch thickener? I find if it sits too long or gets hot enough it actually goes back to a liquid. I have started using rice flour slurry because of this–its far more stable.

  31. Followed the recipe exactly. A wonderful collection of new flavors and ingredients that actually made a tofu dish enjoyable. I highly recommend it. However, in this concentration it's WAY too powerful in flavor (not heat) for my taste buds. By adding twice as much chicken stock, the effect was less overwhelming and I didn't suffer from flavor fatigue. Those who like the original concentration must have sluggish taste buds.

  32. HELLO LOVELY VIEWERS! Important Note:

    If you have questions about this recipe, you can post it here for the community to answer. But if you want to ask me, please get in touch via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or my website (all links are in the description above). If you leave questions in the comments I may not see them due to the large volume of comments I receive across the hundreds of videos on this channel.

    Also, before sending on any questions be sure to read the written recipe on the website as I often add extra tips and notes not covered in the video.

    Thank you for watching!

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