Tongue-tinglingly spicy and bewitchingly-aromatic – mapo tofu is the ultimate proof that tofu is anything but boring! This is my vegan recipe for the classic Sichuan dish which typically combines ground meat and tofu in a class mapo-style sauce spiked with spicy doubanjiang (a broad bean chilli paste that is a staple in Sichuan cuisine).
My plant-based take replaces the meat with earthy mushrooms, whilst also swapping in a few others ingredients which are more easily and locally available. You can for instance replace the doubanjiang with sambal oelek or really, any red chilli paste you have handy. This vegan version is just as craveable as a classic mapo tofu found at your favourite Asian restaurant, with a deeply-flavourful sauce set apart by the numbing warmth of toasted Sichuan peppercorns.
Serve this vegan mapo tofu as a side dish or main course, with plenty of rice or noodles to pile it over!
Ingredients Required For This Vegan Mapo Tofu
- Silken-firm tofu
- Sichuan peppercorns: this is the key ingredient for adding the tongue-tinging touch to this dish
- Sesame oil for cooking
- Mushrooms (you could use button mushrooms), to replace the ground meat
- Chinese five spice for its signature warmth (but you can omit if you don’t have it)
- Doubanjiang or alternatively, use Sambal Oelek/ any any red chilli paste you have
- Rice vinegar
- Light soy sauce
- Dark soy sauce
- Brown Sugar
- Vegetable stock/ water
- Corn flour, to help thicken our sauce
Tips For Making This Vegan Mapo Tofu
- Toast ground Sichuan peppercorns before adding them to the wok/ large pan with your remaining ingredients. This additional step at the start helps to release the fragrance of the peppercorns.
- Let the mapo sauce simmer before adding in the cubed tofu , as this helps to deepen the flavours.
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Vegan Mapo Tofu
- 1-2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- Sesame oil (for cooking)
- 1 cup diced mushrooms
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, finely-chopped
- 1-2 tsp grated ginger
- ¼-½ tsp Chinese five spice
- 2 tbsp doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste; or swap in Sambal oelek)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- ½ tbsp light soy sauce
- ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¾-1 cup stock (or just add water)
- 1 packet silken-firm tofu
- ½ tbsp corn flour (mixed with 1 tbsp cold water)
- scallions for garnish
- Crush the Sichuan peppercorns in a mortal and pestle, then gentle toast the peppercorns until fragrant (but not burnt!) and set aside.
- Add a splash of sesame oil to a wok/ large pan. To this add, the mushrooms and cook until the water has evaporated.
- Then add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant.
- Stir in the Chinese five spice , toasted Sichuan peppercorns and the chilli paste. Sauté for a few minutes until your kitchen smells oh-so-cosy!
- Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce sand sugar. Mix well to evenly combine.
- Add the stock/ water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and add cubed pieces of silken-firm tofu. Gently fold in the tofu, being careful not to break the pieces.
- While stirring, pour in a corn flour slurry ( 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp cold water).
- Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes for the sauce to thicken and absorb all those savoury flavours.
- Serve hot, over rice or noodles and DIVE IN
We’d love to hear from you! Do let us know if you try this recipe – you can leave a comment below and/ or tag us in your delicious creations on Instagram @the_foodiediaries.
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