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Best Mapo Tofu Recipes

Best Mapo Tofu Recipes

Mapo Tofu Shopping Tips

For the exotic ingredients often used in Asian cooking, look for specialty stores in your neighborhood or in the foreign goods aisle at your local grocery stores.

Mapo Tofu Cooking Tips

Asian Cuisine is about the balance of flavors between sweet and sour; hot and mild. When working with Asian chiles, the smaller ones are usually spicier. Handle with caution and care.

Kitchen Princess

Mapo tofu. Behold its Sichuan pepperiness and its gloppy oily guts. If you’ve ever had a really great mapo tofu you’ll immediately recognize the abundance of spicy red oil and fried bits of pork. It’s got that quintessential pleasing numbness that comes with eating Sichuan Chinese food.

Roughly translated from Chinese, mapo tofu means “pockmarked grandma’s bean curd.” It’s a dish named after the old lady who likely invented it in a town called Chengdu in the Sichuan province of China.

Do you think the pockmarked grandmother and General Tso knew each other?

Mapa tofu is one of the central dishes of Sichuan (or Szechuan) cuisine. It’s got tons of garlic and sichuan peppercorns and I’d say alongside dan dan noodles and tea smoked duck, it’s one of the most popular Sichuan dishes ever, especially in New York city. If you’re afraid of trying this at home and live in New York City, try the mapo tofu at either Szechuan Gourmet or Lan Sheng, two of my favorite Chinese places in the city located directly across the street from each other on 39th Street just south of Bryant Park.

I did a lot of digging for this post. I watched terrible videos on youtube of nice Chinese ladies trying to explain how to make mapo and not doing a very good job. Some recipes call for both spicy bean sauce and chili bean sauce. Others called for very little sichuan peppercorns. This recipe is a mash-up of about five different recipes I found. You may have never heard of any of these ingredients but I assure you, they are not hard to find. It might look complicated but my mapo tofu can be made from start to finish in under 45 minutes. I did all of my shopping at J Mart in Flushing, Queens but I know for a fact you can find sichuan peppercorns at New Kam Man market in Manhattan’s chinatown, or any of the Chinese grocery stores found here.

Real-Deal Mapo Tofu Recipe

In many parts of the world, tofu is a vastly misunderstood ingredient maligned as a pale meat imitation, it's no wonder so many people turn their noses up at it.

Well, I'm here to set the record straight: tofu is emphatically not a meat substitute. It's an ingredient in its own right, and a delicious one at that. Indeed, in many traditional Chinese and Japanese dishes, it's prepared together with meat in a single dish. I grew up on the sweet-and-salty, heavy-on-the-beef version of mapo tofu that my mom used to make for us, sometimes with her own seasoning, but often just thrown together from a packet. When paired with her handmade beef dumplings, it was far and away my favorite meal.

Since then, I've had mapo tofu everywhere from Chinese takeout joints in Manhattan to real-deal Sichuan restaurants in Hong Kong. But the best I've ever had was at Fuloon, a Sichuan restaurant in the Boston suburb of Malden whose chef, Zhang Wenxue, is a straight-from-Sichuan export who brought his woks and his skills with him. (He also makes the best steamed beef in chili oil and Sichuan wontons anywhere.)

A traditional Sichuan dish, mapo tofu is made with simmered medium-firm silken tofu flavored with fermented bean paste, beef, plenty of red-hot roasted chili oil, and a handful of Sichuan peppercorns. When done right, the dish comes out with a thick coating of hot chili oil covering its surface, keeping the contents underneath hot in both senses of the word. It's a great representation of málà, or hot and numbing flavor.

Chef Zhang says the secret is all about layering flavors. He starts by infusing his cooking oil with Sichuan peppercorns and finishes the dish by sprinkling more of the toasted and ground peppercorns on top. The result is intense, soul-satisfying fare.

It's dangerously addictive stuff. Just as your mouth seems about to spontaneously combust from the chili heat, the Sichuan peppers kick in, numbing it back to soothing calmness so you can take another bite and start the whole process over again. I go through bowls of it like a fiend.

I took a trip inside the kitchen with Chef Zhang to see exactly how he does it. Once you get the basic hang of wok-cooking, the dish comes together remarkably fast—five minutes and you're done.

Mapo Tofu

Christopher Simpson for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

You can order mapo tofu from many Chinese restaurants, but it’s also quite doable at home. You can find the pivotal fermented chile and broad (fava) bean sauce or paste called doubanjiang (sometimes rendered as “toban djan”) at a Chinese market. Look for a doubanjiang from Pixian, in Sichuan, and bear in mind that oilier versions have extra heat but may lack an earthy depth. Sichuan peppercorns add mala — tingly zing — and fermented black beans, called douchi, lend this dish a kick of umami. Ground beef is traditional, but many cooks choose pork you can also try lamb, turkey thigh or a plant-based meat alternatives. Add chile flakes for extra fire, and balance mapo’s intensity with rice and steamed or stir-fried broccoli.

Chinese Mapo Tofu vs. Japanese Mabo Dofu

There are many versions of Mabo Dofu within Japan and each household cooks it differently.

The common ingredients that you may not find in classic Chinese Mapo Tofu include miso (Japanese fermented soybeans, sometimes rice and barley included), mirin or sugar, and sesame oil. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sake are sometimes added too.

As I mentioned above, Japanese Mabo Dofu doesn’t include any chili or peppercorn. The only “spicy” element comes from doubanjiang, the fermented bean paste. Please note the difference between doubanjiang and la doubanjiang as the latter includes chili.

which lends a whole new dimension to the dish.

I f you have tried my Vegetarian Ramen and Miso Ramen recipes, you probably have the bean paste in your refrigerator already. The fermented beans give amazing umami therefore, please do not substitute.

Amazon does not sell the non-spicy broad bean paste, but you can buy a Taiwanese Lian How (岡山) brand at Asian markets or on Walmart (please let me know if you find this brand online).

With that, the recipe is just about frying up the aromatics like ginger and garlic, ground meat with the right amount of seasonings. Heat it up until the sauce starts bubbling, then add the tofu and coat the mixture together until the flavors infuse. Now you have a one reliably satisfying rice bowl dish for the family. I hope you enjoy my Japanese Mapo Tofu!

Mapo Tofu (Mince & Tofu in Spicy Sauce)

The Japanese version of this famous Sichuan spicy dish (Mapo Tofu/Mapo Doufu) is made with readily available ingredients and it is a lot less oily but is still an incredible flavour explosion in a bowl – I want the sauce on tap! This dish is on the table in 15 minutes, only 340 calories per serving and you can adjust the spiciness to your own taste. Serve it with rice – and because it is so saucy, I often add vegetables to it to make it a complete meal, such as chopped Chinese greens (Chinese broccoli, bok choy, pak choy) or even grated carrots!

Give this a try – I promise you won’t regret it. Pop it in your RecipeTin app!

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Best Mapo Tofu – Recipe

I would love to say that this recipe for mapo tofu is a secret family recipe, passed on from generation to generation… but it’s not. My mom has a version of this dish that she makes for her grandkids that is more mild, less spicy and child friendly that she has adopted as her own signature recipe. “Mapo” translates to a name you call your grandmother. I grew up eating this dish and up until I was older and saw this dish listed on a restaurant menu, I thought this dish was something specific to our family without an official name having calling it “grandma’s tofu” all this time. Adapting my mom’s recipe, I’ve developed this version that’s a spicier, a bit more authentic and true to a traditional typical szechuan dish.

1 package of firm tofu (drained and cubed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb ground pork
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup green green onions (chopped, reserve some for garnish)
1 1/2 tbsp chinese chili bean sauce
1 tbsp chinese ground bean sauce
3/4 C chicken stock
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 C shitake mushrooms (chopped)
1 tbsp szechuan peppercorn
2 tsp fermented black beans, chopped finely (optional)
1/4 C spicy pickled mustard greens (optional)

Cornstarch slurry
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water

Drain your tofu of the packaging water. Embrace your inner Martha Stewart and dice the tofu into perfect 1/4 inch cubes. Bring a pot of salted water and boil the tofu at medium heat of 5-8 minutes. This will help the tofu stay firm when you cook it and not fall apart. Drain and set aside.

Brown the ground pork with vegetable oil. Once brown, add bean paste, chili paste, ground pepper, shitake mushrooms and optional black beans and pickled mustard greens and toss on medium heat for two minutes.

The spicy pickled mustard greens come in a small package and are usually around a dollar a package. Really inexpensive and keep well (they’re pickled, duh) and are a great accoutrement to many recipes. Found at your local Asian market in the preserves section.

Add drained tofu pieces, chicken stock, scallions, soy sauce and wine, stir for 2 minutes. Prepare your cornstarch slurry and drizzle into the pot while stirring. Cook for another minute, serve with a drizzle of sesame oil and garnish with chopped green onions. Adjust the spiciness of it with added chili oil (if you prefer spicier.)

Serve with a big bowl of rice and a 10 minute meal is yours! Let me know how you like it or if there are any recipes you’d like to see on the blog!

"The Best" Mapo Tofu

This version of a spicy Chinese classic was judged "the best" by journalist and author Jen Lin-Liu's husband-to-be, Craig Simons. It was one of the first meals she served him when they were dating in Beijing.

A small amount of ground beef is used, more as flavoring than as main ingredient. Cubes of either firm or soft tofu can be used.

Usually, Sichuan peppercorns are sprinkled on at the end, providing a numbing sensation as the dish is eaten. But Lin-Liu prefers a more subtle use, infusing the cooking oil with Sichuan peppercorns for a few seconds, then removing them before cooking the remaining ingredients.

Servings: 4 - 6

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the Sichuan peppercorns and cook for a few seconds, until some of them pop and crackle. Remove the wok from the heat use a spoon to remove and discard the peppercorns.

Return the wok to high heat when the oil is hot, add the beef, breaking it into small pieces and stirring for a minute or two, until it begins to brown. Add the following ingredients in order, stirring for 1 minute between each addition: leek or scallion and ginger, broadbean paste, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, if desired, and sugar. Then add the water, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 4 to 5 minutes the mixture will bubble at the edges.

Add the tofu and increase the heat to high cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat serve immediately.

Recipe Source

Adapted from Lin-Liu's "Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China" (Harcourt, 2008).

Recipe: Sichuan Mapo Tofu, Revisited (麻婆豆腐)

Today, I wanted to revisit an old favorite, and teach you another way to make Mapo Tofu.

Mapo Tofu is one of those dishes with like a mountain of different variants. And like all classic dishes where that’s true, anyone that loves Mapo Tofu tends to have a very highly developed opinion as to why their variant of choice is the best one.

Perhaps the most fundamental difference in Mapo Tofu style is whether you prefer ‘stewed’ or ‘slurry-based’. The most traditional Mapo Tofu was made without any thickeners – the tofu simply stewed in the sauce uncovered until it’s reduced to the cook’s liking. Slurry-based Mapo Tofus, meanwhile, are more prevalent these days in China (and our personal preference, as the sauce sticks to the tofu better).

But that’s, of course, far from the only variation. Some Mapo Tofus use beef, some use pork, and some no meat at all (beef is most traditional, we’re not picky). Some use a stock base, some use water (we like stock). Some finish with chili oil, some don’t (we find additional chili oil to be superfluous if you’ve fried your base correctly). Some add in green garlic, some add in scallions (we’re not picky). Some insist on using some three year aged Sichuan chili bean paste, some don’t (a cool ingredient no doubt, we don’t think it’s imperative for this specific dish). So on and so forth.

So even though two years back we already shared a Mapo Tofu recipe here, we wanted to circle back and show you another way to do it. Our original recipe was a bit closer to the Mapo Tofu you might eat at a Sichuan restaurant where we live (Shenzhen)… but over the past couple of years our research skills’ve gotten a bit better, so we wanted to improve on that recipe.

Now, quick word of warning about the accompanying video. I know we usually proudly do ‘no BS’ cooking videos… but this video’s a bit different. It was our two year anniversary for the channel, so we wanted to do something sort of special. If you’re familiar with the book The Professional Chef (great resource, btw), they’ve got a Mapo Tofu recipe in there. The TLDR is that it’s… kinda garbage, so we wanted to show a bit about where it erred. We go into a lot of detail on that front in the video, if that’s the sort of thing you’re interested.


Soft tofu (卤水豆腐/嫩豆腐), 500g. Ok, ready for something fun? You know how in the West, tofus are categorized according to firmness, ranging from extra soft to extra firm? Yeah… China doesn’t have the same categorization system. Instead, we’ve got three primary styles: gypsum tofu (石膏豆腐, which I’m 98% sure is the same as silken tofu in the West), tender brined tofu (嫩卤水豆腐, which I’m 98% sure is the same as ‘soft tofu’ in the West), and pressed brined tofu (老卤水豆腐, which I’m 98% sure is the same as ‘firm tofu’ in the West). Gypsum tofu tends to be the go-to tofu in Cantonese cuisine (which is why it’s also sometimes called ‘southern tofu’), tender brined tofu is very popular in central China (e.g. Hakka and Sichuan cuisines), and pressed brined tofu is often the standard in the North. I’m simplifying a bit here, and there’s obviously also a mountain of other products… but the point is this: we’re using the ‘tender brined tofu’ for this dish. What this means for you is that the right tofu for this dish is likely “soft tofu”, or perhaps “medium”.

Minced beef (牛肉末), 80g. Notice the quantity. I’ve noticed a lot of people in the West that seem to love to turn their Mapo Tofu into a damn hamburger helper meal. You can ultimately add however the hell much beef you want (I ain’t judging), but note that more beef will mean that you’ll need more oil if you want to get a nice result (more on that in the process below).

Peanut oil -or- Caiziyou, virgin rapeseed oil -or- Indian mustard seed oil, 5 tbsp. Ok, so if you’ve followed these recipes at all, you might’ve heard me wax poetic about caiziyou. It’s a virgin rapeseed oil that’s kind of foundational in Sichuan cooking – it’s not quite analogous to olive oil in Mediterranean cuisines, but that’s the closest comparable I could think of. Unfortunately, it’s banned in the United States due to [ed: very questionable] research put out in the 1960s that said that erucic acid was bad for you, which lead to our current flavorless Canola. Indian mustard seed oil is very similar in taste, also high in erucic acid, but gets around the ban by labelling it as ‘for topical use only’ (wink, wink). It’s a brilliant sub, but just be aware that mustard seed oil must be heat up til smoke point before using. If all else fails, just use peanut oil.

Sichuan peppercorns (花椒), 1 tbsp. To be toasted and ground into a powder. Foundational flavor here, there’s no sub.

Sichuan Chili Bean Paste, i.e. Pixian Doubanjiang (郫县豆瓣酱), 3 tbsp. Another fundamental component – besides flavor, this is what actually makes Mapo Tofu… red. Now, it should be said that some brands of Chili Bean Paste kind of suck (cough Lee Kum Kee cough), so try to find a nice one if you can. There’s a brand called Juan Cheng Pai which is one of the best mass produced ones that exports to the West (can be found online), so pick that up if you can.

Chili flakes (辣椒粉), 2 tbsp. I can already see some of you squirming at the delightfully vague ‘chili flakes’. For reference, our chili flakes are from the Erjingtiao (‘two vixen chili’) chili – closely related to cayenne,

20k SVU. If my memory’s serving me right, I believe chili flakes in the West usually come from cayenne… but just in case I’m totally off my rocker, you could also blitz a bit of dried cayenne or arbols.

Douchi, black fermented beans, (豆豉) 1 tbsp. Roughly chopped. If you can’t find these, just skip them. I know some people like to use ‘black bean sauce’, but we… feel pretty strongly on the topic (just taste a bottle side by side next to some actual douchi if you don’t believe me).

Aromatics: 4 cloves garlic, 2 inches ginger. Minced.

Stock (毛汤), 1 cup -or 1 cup water mixed with 1 tsp stock concentrate (鸡汁/瑶柱汁) -or- 1 cup water. We we using a simple homestyle stock. No need to get too fancy here.

Green garlic (蒜苗) -or- scallions, 1-2 stalks. Chopped into 1 inch sections.

Seasoning for the Mapo Tofu: 1 tbsp light soy sauce (生抽), 1 tbsp liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine (料酒/绍酒), ¼ tsp MSG (味精), ¼ tsp white pepper powder (白胡椒粉), ½ tbsp toasted sesame oil (麻油).

Slurry of 1 tbsp cornstarch (生粉) mixed with

1-2 tbsp water. Be sure to check out the process below on adding the slurry. You’ll likely only need about half of this.

Quick note that if you’re want to just see the process below in video form, you can just straight to 5:33 and watch to 8:00. You’d miss the blanching of the tofu and the toasting of the peppercorns, but if you jump in right there you don’t need to sit through me making the CIA version.

Slice the tofu into one inch cubes. Slice your tofu in half horizontally. Then, slice down to get one inch strips, and finally cut in the other direction to get one inch cubes.

Get a small pot of water up to a boil, and add in ½ tsp of salt. Add enough water so that it’d be able to submerge the tofu.

3 inches, but it depends on the size of your pot. This step isn’t a science, promise.

Lower to a heavy simmer, carefully add in tofu cubes. Simmer for

3 minutes. Leave tofu cubes in the hot water until you’re ready to cook. Unlike gypsum tofu, brined tofu has a slight grassy taste. This blanch in salt water will remove that taste, and also help firm the tofu up a touch. Leave the tofu in the hot water until you’re good to use it.

Toast and grind the Sichuan peppercorns. Add your Sichuan peppercorns to a wok and toast for

1-2 minutes over a medium low flame. You’ll know you’re done once you can see little oil splotches on the side of your wok, like this (sorry, I know that pic’s a bit dark). Then transfer over to a mortar – or whatever your spice grinding method of choice is – and get into a nice powder.

Slice the green garlic, mince the garlic, mince the ginger, roughly chop the douchi fermented beans, mince the chili bean paste. I know mincing the chili bean paste might seem like a weird step, but the good ones are pretty chunky. Chomping down on a big salty bean isn’t ideal.

Make the Mapo Tofu. Begin by stir-frying. As always, first longyau: get your wok piping hot, shut off the heat, add in the oil, and give it a swirl to get a nice non-stick surface. Heat on medium high now, heat the oil up until bubbles start to form around a pair of chopsticks (

Drop in the beef mince. Fry for

four minutes. You’re not looking to get your beef mince to ‘done’: you’re looking to get that mince PAST done. You want the beef to become crispy and release the oil. See this picture? Not there yet. This is what you’re looking for. The oil should be clear again.

Shut off the heat. Add in the chili bean paste, begin to fry. Make sure it’s not burning, then swap the flame back to medium-low.

Fry the chili bean paste for

90 seconds to color and flavor the oil. This step is called ‘making the red oil’ (做出红油), and it’s probably the most critical part of the whole operation. Optimal temperature to fry chili bean paste in oil is 100-110C. If you’ve ever made some Pixian Douban-based dishes and have struggled with color, it’s because you’re either doing this step at too high of a heat, or not long enough.

Minced douchi, in. Quick mix.

Chili flakes, in. Fry everything together for

one minute until it’s all a nice even paste.

Drain the tofu cubes, then toss them in. Carefully arrange, make sure not to break the tofu.

Swap flame to medium high, get up to heavy simmer.

7 minutes, or until reduced by about one third. While simmering, carefully push the tofu back and forth to prevent sticking.

Add in HALF the slurry. Allow to thicken. If thickened to your liking, proceed to the next step. If not, add in the remainder of the slurry. Reducing’s not a science, so doing it this way helps ensure that you’re not over thickening.

Add in the green garlic. Mix and cook for

15 seconds if using scallions).

Sprinkle over the Sichuan peppercorn powder. Heat off, out.

Now, when you first take the Mapo Tofu out, you might think to yourself ‘ah man, this isn’t as red and sexy as I was anticipating’. Be patient, in 5-10 minutes, the oil will float to the top and you’ll get that classic Mapo Tofu look.

Note on Vegetarian Mapo Tofu:

As I said above, many of us that love Mapo Tofu can have rather highly developed opinions on the dish. So here’s my controversial opinion: I believe that Mapo Tofu does not need meat.

There’s obvious a great many people that would strongly disagree with that statement, of course. But allow me to make my case. How much flavor is that bit of beef adding to the tofu? Eh… some, but not much. The dominant flavors of Mapo Tofu are (1) Chili bean paste (2) Sichuan peppercorn and (3) chilis. Those are… bold flavors. Honestly, I think that the beef’s bringing about as much to the party as the soy sauce is.

So when I see recipes like Kenji’s Vegan Mapo Tofu, I can’t help scratching my head a little. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love Kenji’s stuff (best recipe writer of our generation, I feel) and I’d certainly eat the crap out of that Mapo Tofu. But dry-frying three kinds of mushrooms, adding kombu… kind of feels like breaking that butterfly on the proverbial wheel.

So if you happen to be a vegetarian or cooking for one, here’s my vegan Mapo Tofu if you care to hear it: follow this recipe. Skip the beef. Use water instead of stock. Double the MSG. Fin.

Chengdu Challenge #10: Mapo Doufu (Mapo Tofu)

Best tofu dish in the world? Mapo tofu, without a doubt.

You may be thinking that’s not saying much. But it is. In fact, forget that it features tofu. I’ll put this beefy, spicy, chili bean dish up against your favorite American beef-and-bean chili any day.

Mapo doufu, along with other Sichuan classics, at a famous restaurant in Chengdu

I’ve been making mapo doufu—“pock-marked mother’s bean curd”—for years. It was one of the first dishes I learned from our brilliant chef Qing Qing back when I organized cooking classes for travelers at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine.

Chef Qing Qing shows us how to cut the doufu

Chef makes sure I don’t slice my hand along with the wobbly bean curd

My end result with Chef’s guidance

But over the years, my version had somehow gone astray. It was still good, but it wasn’t great. It had evolved into something not quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on what that was. So I decided it was time to get back to basics, and relearn this classic from scratch. I could no longer turn to Qing Qing, as he’s gone on to bigger things as part of the team running the culinary institute’s hotel, but I could turn to The Cookbook, which contains the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine’s own nominee for the definitive recipe.

And once again, The Cookbook did not let me down. This is the mapo doufu I remember from the best versions I’ve eaten in Chengdu. A version that—dare I say it—matches Chen’s Mapo Doufu, the chain of restaurants that traces its founding to the one and only “pock-marked Mother Chen,” who created the dish eons ago. Chen’s still serves a mean version at the original of its many Chengdu outposts.

Here’s how The Cookbook tells the story:

During the reign of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty, the wife of the owner of Chen Xing Sheng Restaurant invented a way to cook tofu, which featured distinct spicy flavor. To distinguish it from other braised tofu, people named the dish Mapo Tofu, which in Chinese means pock-faced granny on account of the fact that there were pocks on her face.

The version served a few years back at Chen’s Mapo Doufu in Chengdu, the originator of the dish

From The Cookbook’s recipe I realized the error of my ways: too much meat, not enough chili flakes and, most importantly, too little oil. Here is what real mapo doufu needs:

  • A deep-red oil slick on top (see all photos here). That’s just the way it is and always has been in Sichuan. And the way it tastes best.
  • A heaping helping of Pixian doubanjiang, or chili bean paste from Pixian (and nowhere else). It’s red, and it’s earthy-spicy, and it defines mapo doufu. The color of your mapo doufu will vary with the color of your doubanjiang, which can range from bright red to reddish brown, but this is a dish that begs for the heft and depth of flavor provided by premium 3-year-old doubanjiang.
  • A small helping of fermented black soybeans (dou chi). Used across China, these umami bombs are pretty easily found in Chinese markets or at The Mala Market.
  • Bright-red Sichuan chili flakes, which bring both color and heat to the proceedings.
  • Of course, tofu’s pretty important too. Please use an Asian brand like, in the U.S., Sincere Food’s Lotus brand or House Foods. And even though most people use firm tofu, I much prefer the soft type. I adore the fresh soybean flavor and cloud-like texture, and I don’t mind if it breaks apart just a little when it cooks.
  • What mapo doufu doesn’t need is much meat. In almost every Sichuan dish that calls for minced meat, that meat will be pork. In mapo doufu, that meat is beef. But you don’t need much. The school’s recipe calls for only 2 ounces—1/8 pound or 60 grams. And that is plenty. The beef is only a (wonderful) garnish.
  • Baby leeks or scallions. And lots of them.
  • A dusting of hua jiao, or ground, roasted Sichuan pepper, is, of course, the crowning glory.

Cooks outside Sichuan often add all sorts of other things to the recipe but, trust me, you don’t need them. The traditional recipe is simple and perfect, and why mess with perfection?