Vegan Mapo Tofu, soft tofu and shiitake mushrooms in a spicy and numbing sauce. This vegan version is quick and easy to make and is packed full of aromatic flavours.
Ingredients of Note
Sichuan Peppercorns give the dish a numbing sensation with a citrusy flavour. They are a key ingredient in Sichuan cuisine. Either the red or green variety can be used. The green has a stronger citrus flavour than the red so if all you have is the green variety use half of what is listed in the recipe.
Fermented black beans or salted black beans are small, black soybeans that have been preserved in salt. They are used extensively in Chinese cooking and give dishes a powerful salty-savoury flavour. They can be found in most Asian supermarkets.
Make sure to rinse your fermented black beans before using them to remove any excess salt and to rehydrate them slightly.
You can buy Chinese chilli oil easily online and in Chinese supermarkets. However, we believe it’s worth the extra effort to make your own chilli oil. You can add the flavours you like and balance the spice level to your own preference. We have an easy recipe for homemade chilli oil you can follow.
Serving Vegan Mapo Tofu
Vegan Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)
- 350 g soft tofu or firm silken tofu
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns*
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 200 g shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons chilli bean paste
- ½ tablespoon fermented black beans
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon chilli oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon msg optional
- 200 ml vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 spring onions thinly sliced.
- Clean the mushrooms then chop them into a small mince like texture.
- Chop the chilli bean paste and fermented black beans into a fine paste. The chilli bean paste can sometimes have large bits of bean that need to be chopped up. Set aside.
- Carefully remove the tofu from the packet and cut it into 2cm cubes. Try to be gentle and not break the tofu.
- Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer then add the 1 teaspoon salt then gently add the tofu. The water should not be rapidly boiling as this will break the tofu apart.
- Simmer the tofu for 15 minutes while making the rest of the dish.
- Heat a dry pan over medium-high heat. Once hot add the Sichuan peppercorns. Toast for around 30 seconds until fragrant. Remove them from the pan and grind in a mortar and pestle. Set aside for later.
- Keep the pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil, coat the bottom of the pan then add the chopped mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have released all their moisture and are golden. This will take around 6 minutes.
- Now add the chilli bean paste and fermented black beans. Cook, mixing into the mushrooms until the oil in the pan is a deep red colour from the chilli bean paste, around 2 minutes.
- Add the ground Sichuan peppercorns, garlic and white parts of the spring onion and continue to cook for 1 minute. Reserve the green parts of the spring onion for garnish.
- Now add the chilli oil, optional msg and the vegetable broth, mix together and bring to a boil.
- Mix the cornflour with 3 tablespoons of water then add to the pan. Stir until thickened slightly then turn the heat down so the broth is simmering gently.
- When the broth is simmering gently and the tofu has been simmering for 15 minutes carefully remove the tofu from the water and add to the broth. Carefully coat the tofu in the broth trying not to break it. Do this by pushing your spatula or spoon from the edge of the pot to the centre.
- Once the tofu is coated continue to simmer for 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning then serve.
- Serve the Mapo Tofu over white rice and garnish with the green spring onions.