Mapo Dofu Recipe | Chinese Recipes | PBS Food

"As with many famous Chinese dishes, this one has a story, and like the others, it's been told by so many people over so many years that you have to question its truth. Legend has it that Mapo Dofu is named for an old pock-marked Sichuan woman, Madame Chen, who owned a restaurant where people came from far and near to sample her special tofu (in Mandarin, dofu) in meat sauce." - Cecilia Chiang

Reprinted with permission from The Seventh Daughter, by Cecilia Chiang, copyright 2007, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


Yield: 2-4 servings



  • 1 teaspoon black bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/4 pound ground pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) minced zha cai
  • 16 ounces silken tofu, water drained off and cut into 1 by 2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil
  • Pinch of ground Sichuan peppercorns or white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced green onion, plus a little extra for garnish


  1. To make the sauce: whisk together the black bean sauce, wine, soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large wok over high heat until a bead of water dances on the surface and then evaporates. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the pork and stir constantly, breaking the meat apart with a spoon. Toss in the remaining 3 teaspoons garlic with the zha cai, and continue to cook until just a trace of pink remains in the pork, about 2 minutes. Using a spoon, very gently add the tofu to the pan. Quickly stir in the reserved sauce, then the chili oil, and top with Sichuan pepper and 1 tablespoon of the green onion. Immediately remove from the heat.
  3. To serve: transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the remaining minced green onion.
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