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Mapo Tofu is a traditional Sichuan dish. It has a numbing sensation when you eat it. It’s spicy, hot and savory. It’s definitely my kind of good eats!

According to legend, an elderly widow named Chen Qiaoqiao invented Mapo Tofu. Ms. Chen’s face was scarred with pockmarks, so people started calling the dish Mapo Tofu, which literary means “pockmarked grandma’s bean curd.”

Ms. Chen’s story started as a tragedy. Her husband died of a disease and she became very poor. Her friends tried to help her and occasionally gave her some meat and tofu. She had always been an amazing cook so she created a brilliant dish with their donated ingredients: Mapo Tofu.

She first minced the meat, cut the tofu into cubes, and cooked them with a variety of Sichuan spices. All of her friends loved the dish and encouraged her to make a living off it. She eventually opened a small shop and sold Mapo Tofu.

The story has a happy ending, because her Mapo Tofu became famous through word of mouth! I now bring you the Mapo Tofu recipe.

Mapo Tofu Recipe

1 pack of soft tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 oz of beef, minced
3 dry red peppers, minced
1 teaspoon of scallions, minced
1 teaspoon of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of gingers, minced

1/2 teaspoon of Sichuan pepper powder
1 tablespoon of Sichuan pepper oil
1 tablespoon of chili bean paste
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons of hot chili oil
A dash of sesame oil
A pinch of white pepper
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of cornstarch water mixed with 2 tablespoons of water


1. Blanch the tofu in boiling water for about 30 seconds, adding a pinch of salt to make the pieces more durable. Take the tofu out and drain all the excess water.

2. Heat up a wok. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat to a medium heat. Add the minced beef and then stir fry until well done. Take out and put it aside.

3. With the excess oil in the wok, add the minced ginger, dry red peppers and chili bean paste, and stir well until fragrant. Add the Sichuan pepper oil and water. Then add all the other ingredients for the sauce (Sichuan pepper powder, salt, sugar, pepper, dark soy sauce, sesame oil), and then stir in the cooked minced beef. Cover the wok for about 10 seconds. Then add the minced garlic, cornstarch water, chili oil, and scallions. Carefully stir until everything is combined.

You can now enjoy your Mapo Tofu with a bowl of white rice. Let me know how this recipe works for you.

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