Thirty minutes from start to finish, this authentic Sichuan mapo tofu recipe is fragrant, spicy, delicious, and easy to make. It’s also gluten-free.
Cut tofu into half-inch cubes.
In a medium saucepan, bring a large amount of salted water to a boil and gently place the tofu into the boiling water. Let it cook for 2 minutes. Drain.
Combine ground beef or pork, sesame oil, wine, 1 teaspoon cornstarch (dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water), and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Mix well.
In a large wok or sauté pan, heat up 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Brown the seasoned meat in oil, breaking it into small pieces with your spatula, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the meat to the same bowl that you use to season the meat and set aside.
Add another 2 tablespoons oil in the same wok. Keep the medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour broth into the wok. Turn the heat up to high and bring the broth to a boil.
Add tofu cubes, beef, hot chili oil with pepper solids, and Sichuan pepper into the broth. Shake the wok to distribute the sauce, using a wood spatula to back push the tofu gently. Turn down the heat to simmer for 6-8 minutes.
In the meantime, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons cold water.
Drizzle the cornstarch mixture into the tofu mixture. Back push it slowly, add brown sugar and continue simmering the tofu in the sauce until it’s thickened, about 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired.
Dish, sprinkle with finely ground Sichuan numbing pepper or ground black pepper, garnish with chopped green onion and serve over rice.
1) Boiling tofu in salted water will make the tofu strong and less likely to break.
2) Browning meat over medium heat allows the meat to be broken into smaller pieces, which is preferred in this dish. If you use high heat, meat will easily turn into bigger chunks.
3) If you don’t have Sichuan numbing pepper, you can still make this recipe with ground black pepper (but the result is going to be less than ideal).
4) For finely ground Sichuan numbing pepper, toast the peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant, then process them in a food processor.