Mapo Tofu

There are a few things I’m not fond of eating and one of them would be tofu. A result I believe, of a tofu overload I had during childhood where we had tofu every other day for around a year or two as part of my father’s nutritional regimen for the family. This phase I believe supplied my tofu requirement for life.

That being said however, let me make clear that I still eat the wonderful invention that is curdled soy milk more popularly known as tofu. I have to admit though I don’t often get excited or do the dance of joy when I see tofu and bok choi being prepped for what is probably the only recipe its used for by my parents at our house.

A perk though of being nosy in the kitchen is that you get to “tamper” with what you don’t like too much and find a way to love it. Such is what has happened with tofu and me. A relationship that has gone cold but through an effort at reconciliation the fire was rekindled.

Let me share with you one of the recipes which has given tofu a new meaning to me in my life. An ancient but very common Chinese recipe called Mapo Tofu which comes with its own legend care of wikipedia

Ma stands for "mazi" (Pinyin: mázi Traditional Chinese 麻子,) which means a person disfigured by pockmarks. Po (Chinese 婆) translates as "old woman". Hence, Ma Po is an old woman whose face was pockmarked. Legend says that the pock-marked old woman (má pó) was a widow who lived in the Chinese city of Chengdu. Due to her condition, her home was placed on the outskirts of the city. By coincidence, it was near a road where traders often passed. Although the rich merchants could afford to stay within the numerous inns of the prosperous city while waiting for their goods to sell, poor farmers would stay in cheaper inns scattered along the sides of roads on the outskirts of the ancient city.

It is said that the first people who tasted the old woman's cooking were a farmer and his son who arrived late to the city during a terrible rainstorm. They were forced to find shelter in the old woman's home having found that all of the inns were full.

Pleased with the company, the old woman prepared them a meal from her paltry larder, including the dish now known as Ma Po Dou fu. The dish was so delicious that soon each time the father and son passed the old woman's home, they would stay for a meal. In this way, the old woman's renown spread as others joined the father and son in visiting and staying at her home. These visitors would often bring the ingredients for her dish so as not to burden her larder.

Ingredients: Recipe adapted from Rose's Kitchen)

350g soft bean curd (cut into 2cm cubes)
200g minced pork (I like it meaty)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 slices ginger, chopped
1 red chilli, diced
2 stalks spring onion, chopped
2tbsp canned tausi

3 tbsp cooking oil
7 tbsp water

2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sugar (i like it a bit sweet but you can adjust this accdg to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp rice wine (I used local rie wine but chinese cooking wine is the norm. I love how it works the pork)

Cornflour Thickening:
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp water


1. Marinate minced pork with 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp oil and 1 tbsp cornflour for 10 mins.
2. Heat the 3 tbsp oil in a wok. When hot, fry the garlic, chili, ginger and beans .

Add the marinated minced pork and continue to fry for a while more. Sprinkle rice wine and 7 tbsp water.

3. Add in the tofu cubes sesame oil, soy sauce and the remaining sugar.

Thicken with cornflour thickening.

Keep stirring for 2 minutes and add the chopped spring onions.



oggi said...

My absolute favorite tofu dish (second only to sweet taho) and to think the translation is pockmarked old woman!:D
I sprinkle a little pounded sichuan pepper on top which gives the dish an added wonderful flavor.
Nice photo, btw, and it looks delicious!

Jen said...

I am definitely going to try this!!! I was so excited to get to the bottom of this post bec. I wanted to see how it turned out and sure enough, it looks delish!

Ruy said...

Oggi: Wow, I'm happy to know you're a Mapo Tofu fan as well.=) The "legend" behind the dish makes it more fun to make as I try to imagine what taste would make an outcast, pockmarked lady so famous.
Your sichuan pepper sounds good. I'll do that next time!

Ruy said...

Jen: I'm glad you like it!
Its very simple and quite an easy dish to prepare.=)
I hope you have as much fun eating it as I do!

carlotta1924 said...

i like ma po tofu.

thanks for sharing the story. it's always nice to learn the origins of our fave foods =)

gong xi fa cai! =)

Jen Tan said...

ruy! I can't beleive you are no tofu fan....ang sarap ng tofu and good for our health =)I love all soy based products..I put soymilk in my coffee ..yummy =)

Em Dy said...

I like tofu when it's new and creamy, melts in your mouth. I like the Tofu Steak of Teriyaki Boy and Misato, the tofu tempura of Kimono Ken. I love taho, especially when it's cold. I don't like fried tokwa though in tokwa't baboy.

Dhanggit said...

what could i ask for more..a cutey short story and a wonderful tofu recipe!! thanks for sharing this recipe..;coz i love tofu!!

Happy Lunar New Year to you and your family!!

Cynthia said...

Okay we have some pork in there so I can think of trying this (lol)

Ruy said...

Carlotta: Aren't legends so much fun?=)
We have another Mapo Tofu fan in the house!=)

Ruy said...

Jen Tan: Although I'm no big fan of tofu, I am a big soy milk fan too.=)When I was a kid, I'd devour glasses of Twin milk at a time (remember the commercial with Richard and Raymond Gutierez?).=)

Ruy said...

Em Dy: You're more of the japanese soft tofu kind like me I guess. It's closer to being taho than tokwa and it has practically none of the sour smell.
As for tokwa't baboy, there are only a few that I like. My favorite would be the one from Macky's in Marikina.

Ruy said...

Dhanggit: Thanks for the greeting!=)
I'm glad you were entertained by the post, as I'm always entertained by yours!!=)

Ruy said...

Cynthia: Haha, I actually doubled the pork from the original recipe just to make sure my meat requirement is satisfied.=)



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