History Of Mapo Tofu

mapo tofu

What is Mapo Tofu

A piece of bread on a cutting board

Wikipedia provides us with the following definition: Mapo doufu (commonly called mapo tofu) is a Chinese dish originally from Sichuan province. It consists of a spicy sauce containing preserved vegetables (often including minced pickled mustard greens), chili peppers, and Sichuan pepper, vegetable protein (commonly tofu, optional gluten, or other meat substitute) mixed with a small amount of cooking oil and then heated until the sauce boils. As it is cooked, it becomes watery with a very rich flavor. It is generally served alone as a side dish rather than as the main course. Mapo tofu is typically eaten at lunch or dinner but can also be consumed for breakfast in China’s Sichuan regions.

How did Mapo Tofu come to be

A group of people standing outside of a food truck

This question has no clear answer since there are many versions of this story that exist on the internet. I will share with you three versions that I could find: The first version states that Mapo Doufu was started by an old lady from Sichuan. During a famine, she had to cook with whatever ingredients were available and what was left was tofu, fermented beans, and meat. Before serving it to her husband she gave it a taste and found that it was so delicious that she decided to serve the dish to her neighbors which eventually began its popularity throughout China. The second version claims that a famous student of a Sichuan cooking teacher created Mapo Doufu to please his master’s palate because he could not afford chicken or beef at the time. The third story states that when Li Guifang (1885–1942), the owner of a Sichuan restaurant in Chengdu during the early 20th century, went to Beijing after his father’s death to settle some family business affairs. He was unable to find any ingredients for his old recipes in Beijing but he did find tofu and chili peppers which prompted him to combine them. Moreover, many people do not agree with this version since producers of Doubanjiang say that their product was used long before Li Guifang came up with Mapo Tofu.

History of Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu is one of the most well-known Sichuan dishes throughout the world. It originates from a small restaurant called Chen Mapo Doufu which was located in the Snake Alley Market in Chengdu, China. The dish has been popularized by Master Kang, who is an expert chef specializing in Sichuan cuisine, and his top-rated program on the Food TV Network .

Why eat mapo tofu

This dish can be consumed as a main course or as a side dish. Furthermore, it provides numerous health benefits such as the ability to lower blood pressure and cure arthritis.

Recipe for mapo tofu

1/2 lb. of fermented black beans

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons cooking wine

1 tablespoon hot chili oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper

3 green onions sliced thin

3 tablespoons of doubanjiang (Chinese chili bean paste)

1/2 pound of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

A few slices of fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers

Salt to taste

Vegetable Oil

Heat a wok or a large frying pan over medium high heat until it is hot. Add the vegetable oil and spread it evenly around the wok with a spatula. When the oil has heated up, add the black beans and stir-fry them for a few seconds. Next, add a tablespoon of cooking wine, soy sauce, dry chili flakes, sesame oil, doubanjiang, minced garlic, and green onions to the wok/pan and stir fry everything together for about thirty seconds or so. Finally, add in your cubed tofu pieces and some pickled jalapeno peppers (or fresh ones if you prefer). Stir-fry all of these ingredients for about five minutes or until your tofu is browned on all sides.


Mapo tofu is a dish that has a long and complicated history. It was originally created in Sichuan province, but its popularity has since spread to all parts of China and beyond. The dish has been adapted and changed over the years, but it always retains its delicious spicy flavor. Thanks for reading about the history of mapo tofu!

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