Imagine a Szechuan tofu recipe with Mapo Sauce! This silky tofu dip is covered with a spicy Szechuan, Mapo-style tofu sauce and is perfect for dipping.
If you love spicy food the way I do prepare your tastebuds to tingle.
Asian recipes, in this case a take on Mapo tofu, was one I just had to make.
Being a reader of Mandy Lee’s, “Lady and Pups” blog for a very long time meant buying her cookbook, “The Art of Escapism Cooking” the minute it came out.
Mandy is a phenomenal cook, but even more so, Mandy Lee is a writer without abandon.
Her writing is as addictive as her recipes.
I’ve never seen such perfection and that is evident even in her kitchen design which with its deep army, almost British green paint, has me figuring out what room I can do in my house with that hypnotizing color.
Mandy started her blog in 2012 in China and I believe it was Alex Odie San that put her on my radar.
From there it was a matter of digesting her posts and inhaling her photos that made me a true fan.
Well, that and her three pups.
So with all that being said, I guess it is time to share my latest adventure with Mandy’s recipes.
And trust me. Mandy’s recipes are adventures.
They may have you escaping to a tiny, deep green kitchen in Hong Kong which is clearly an interesting place to be.
Way back in 2016 when we visited my China Boy, we began in Beijing, a good place to start if you plan on visiting China.
If memory serves me right the first aroma I was met with while walking the early morning streets of Beijing was the early morning odor of simmering soybean juice.
It is not pleasant. It smells rotten. It is not at all something I would want to taste but apparently it is a traditional Beijinger food.
And from the translated articles I found I can’t really tell if it is made from soybeans or mung beans.
However I did decipher that bean juice is fermented and soy milk is not.
And there I go again.
Tofu is made with soy beans and is nothing like this fermented bean juice that greeted me my first morning in Beijing.
I like tofu and though I don’t drink soybean milk, I do like cooking with tofu and should probably do it more often.
One of my favorite easy recipes using tofu is black pepper tofu.
Tofu has no real flavor on its own so that might be one reason it is seasoned so highly.
My other favorite way to make tofu is-you guessed it-mapo tofu.
Using lots of Sichuan peppercorns creates a chili garlic sauce that is peppery, oily and totally silky in texture.
Mapo tofu with its very tweaked seasoning is something that grows on you.
After Beijing we went to Chengdu in the heart of Sichuan province.
There we ate REAL mapo tofu.
I will never forget the oily red chili that numbed my senses on an incredibly hot, humid, totally awesome day as we sat outside across from a very popular Buddhist shrine.
And a few years before that I ate Mapo Tofu in a Sichuan restaurant in London in Chinatown late on a cold night that I will not forget either.
And why is it I remember my Mapo tofu excursions so well?
Because this Chinese tofu recipe is so good!
So how could I resist Mandy’s take on a Mapo tofu dip?
What a stunning invention. Why didn’t I think of this first?
With remarkable canny when it comes to spices, this recipe is tweaked down to an eighth of a teaspoon of ground cumin.
Yes, it matters. Somehow she knows!
As for making this recipe… If you like spicy food that has the possibility of numbing your tongue ever so briefly, then go for it.
And if you are anything like me you will wish you doubled this recipe because with or without the tofu-hummus, the mapo sauce can be spooned on many things.
I’m guessing someone out there has made mapo quesadillas, mapo pizza or mapo sloppy joes and if there isn’t than I will be the first!
So what is a Mapo Tofu Dip? A Szechuan Tofu Recipe with Mapo Sauce!
Think of the dish Mapo tofu with the tofu cubes floating in a bath tub of red chile oil.
Now take out the tofu and run it through a blender or food processor until it is as smooth and creamy as hummus.
Top this tofu creaminess with a Mapo tofu sauce and you have an unbelievable Chinese tofu recipe that will satisfy those who believe that eating spicy food is their ticket to heaven.
But yet in all its spiciness this dip is not too spicy, that you won’t find yourself dipping just once.
Nope, you will find yourself dipping again and again.
Naan bread is great to dip with as are shrimp chips or fried wonton chips or heaven forbid-the pita chip.
In fact, just a spoon works great, too!
Ingredients for this Szechuan Tofu Recipe with Mapo Sauce:
Most ingredients can be found at your regular grocery but there are several you might no know about.
Remember, this is an adventure!
Toasted sesame oil can be found at most groceries but I buy mine at Trader Joes because it’s convenient to my house.
Dried mushroom powder is as simple as taking any dried mushroom-but preferably a Chinese dried mushroom- and running it through a spice blender.
OR place it in a plastic bag and take your meat mallet and give it a good whack.
Congratulate yourself. You now have made mushroom powder.
Broad Bean Chili paste? I buy chilli bean paste at my local Kroger’s, which totally surprised me!
Tastes a bit like hoisin sauce without the sweetness or seasoning and the consistency is very similar.
Fermented black beans? Or Salted Black Beans? Same thing. Found dried in an Asian market.
Don’t have any? Sub in a touch of black bean sauce. Or some miso. It merely adds a touch of saltiness and depth.
Sichuan peppercorns or Szechuan peppercorns? Same thing.
Buy a bag at one of your favorite Asian stores and run them through a pepper mill or beat them with your meat mallet.
Though they are common in Sichuan dishes they are also fun to use in place of black peppercorns.
Keep in mind though, that they will change the flavor profile of your recipe.
Everything else should be easy to find to make this incredible Szechuan sauce.
Yes, you can make this spicy sauce and no soy sauce required!
Begin by making the garlic confit.
What exactly is garlic confit?
Garlic cloves that are slowly cooked until sweet and mellow in oil, with your choice of herbs and spices.
This simple recipe makes more than you will need but I can attest to the fact that we have been enjoying great garlic bread this week!
How to peel garlic quickly?
Separate your cloves and then using the flat part of the blade of a chef’s knife, whack each clove and then the skins should separate quite easily.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Now time to Mapo!!!! And Make this Tofu Dip with a Szechuan Sauce!
Combine the pork with cornstarch and sesame oil.
In a large skillet, heat the canola oil and sesame oil over medium-high heat and add the pork mixture.
Cook until evenly browned and add the broad bean chili paste, mushroom powder, fermented black beans or dark miso, and chile flakes.
Cook stirring often or until the chile flakes have turned dark maroon in color.
Add the garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns and cumin and cook until fragrant.
Add the Shaoxing rice wine or sherry, scraping the sticky bits that are sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan and cook until the wine has evaporated.
Add the chicken stock, jam, white pepper and vinegar.
Turn the heat to low and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half and is slightly thickened.
If you prefer a soupier sauce then no need to reduce by half.
The sauce can be made a couple days ahead and reheated before serving.
Blot your firm tofu with a paper towel.
The more water you press out of tofu, the firmer it gets. So a softer tofu will make a more watery dip.
Combine the tofu in a food processor with the garlic confit, salt and sesame oil and blend until creamy.
This will only give a bit of flavor; it is the flavorful sauce that adds the majority of oomph to this szechuan tofu recipe.
Once that is done-and it takes only minutes-it can be kept in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature before serving.
When ready to serve heat the topping until warm. Spread the tofummus on a dinner plate.
Top with the Mapo sauce and sprinkle with scallions, sesame seeds and extra chili flakes before serving.
If you feel the need a little extra chili oil never hurts.
(And you can bet I have a recipe coming up soon!)
Even if you aren’t a fan of tofu, I can pretty much guarantee that this recipe may make you one soon.
I love Chinese food and this is one great way to learn about Sichuan Chinese cooking.
Now I have three favorite tofu dishes. My classic Mapo Tofu which is a delicious recipe, this version and the simple black pepper tofu made with crispy tofu.
I guess I should add this Japanese version, too which is a quick and easy weeknight meal.
This easy recipe is easy, though does require a little time.
The authentic flavors of Mapo Tofu-the soul of Sichuan cuisine- really shine.
And if you don’t want to make the tofu-hummus than just serve the topping over white rice.
Love mapo tofu? Then this Szechuan tofu recipe with Mapo sauce will be your new favorite dip.
Forget the eggroll appetizer. Make this Mapo Tofu Dip instead!
Need a Few More?
Sichuan Shredded Chinese Potatoes
Chinese Noodles with Bacon, Scallions and an Angry Egg!
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Mapo Tofu Dip
- Prep Time: 30 Minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 Servings 1x
- Category: Appetizers
- Cuisine: Chinese/American
This mapo tofummus is better than the real deal. Creamy tofu, covered with a mapo-like sauce is definitely craveworthy. Though this takes a few steps to put together it disappears very fast! Love Sichuan food? This is for you!
2 .5 heads of garlic, peeled
4 bay leaves
1/2 c canola oil
1 T fish sauce
1/4 t ground white pepper
3 oz ground pork or beef
1 t plus 1 T toasted sesame oil
1/2 t cornstarch
3 T canola oil
1 T Sichuan broad bean chile paste/doubanjiang
1 t ground dried mushrooms
1/2 t finely minced fermented black beans or 1 t of dark miso
1/2 to 3/4 t chile flakes (Korean)
2 grated garlic cloves
2 t grated ginger
1 t ground Suchuan peppercorns
1/8 t ground cumin
2 T Shaoxing wine or sherry
1/4 c chicken stock
1 1/2 t apricot jam
1/4 t ground white pepper
5 drops rice vinegar
1 lb firm tofu
2 T garlic confit sauce
1 1/2 t toasted sesame oil
1/3 t fine sea salt
Smash 35 cloves (about 2 1/2 heads) of garlic with a knife and remove the skins. Set inside a non-stick pot along with 4 fresh bay leaves, 1/2 cup (120 ml) of canola oil, 1 tbsp fish sauce and 1/4 tsp ground white pepper.
Cook over medium-low~low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is evenly golden browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and transfer the rest into a blender (or you can do this with hand-held immersion blender), and blend until the mixture is smooth. Keep in an air-tight jar inside the fridge for up to 2 week. Stir before use.
In a small bowl mix the ground meat with 1 t of sesame oil and cornstarch until smooth.
In a small saucepan heat the canola oil and the remaining 1 T sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cook until evenly browned. (TIP: I use a pie crust dough blender to crumble the meat finely while cooking.) Add the broad bean chili paste, mushroom powder, fermented black beans or dark miso, and chile flakes and cook stirring often for 1 -2 minutes, or until the chile flakes have turned dark maroon in color.
Add the garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, scraping the sticky bits that are sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan and cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the stock, jam, white pepper and vinegar. Turn the heat to low and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half and is slightly thickened. The sauce can be made a couple days ahead and reheated before serving.
Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel and cut into big chunks. Add to the food processor and run it for 1 -2 minutes until the tofu is smooth and pureed. (It will look like smooth humus.) Add the garlic confit sauce, sesame oil and salt and run again until incoporated. Though it still will not have much flavor, it will when it is served with the mapo sauce. This can also be made ahead and brought to room temperature before serving.
Serve the tofu covered with warm mapo sauce, diced scallions and some more ground Sichuan peppercorns. I also added an extra dose of chile oil! Don’t forget the naan or your favorite dippers!
Thanks Mandy Lee.
Keywords: mapo tofu, mandy lee, szechuan tofu recipe, mapo tofu recipe, szechuan tofu, Chinese tofu recipe
Sunday 12th of June 2022
First of all I love the idea of making a hummus from tofu. That alone got my attention; however, the Mapo makes this a complete meal for us. I love finger food meals so sitting at the table with naan and this dish in front sounds like a delightful evening.
Thursday 9th of June 2022
Half an hour for such an interesting, tasty dish? I'm all for it! especially while the heat is on! Thank you!
Healthy World Cuisine
Friday 3rd of June 2022
What a deliciously fun idea! all the flavors of a traditional mapo tofu but as a fun appetizer. We are on it!
John / Kitchen Riffs
Friday 3rd of June 2022
What an amazing dish! Really creative, and really, really good. Next party I'm making this! Heck, I think I'll make it for dinner tonight. :-) Brilliant stuff -- thanks.
Friday 3rd of June 2022
Thanks John! Just remember to double it!