The Best Vegan Mapo Tofu

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

This is my favorite dish of all time, in a completely meat-free form. Using dried and fresh mushrooms adds complexity and texture to the fiery dish, making it every bit as good as—if not better than—the original.

Note: Kombu, shaoxing wine, broad bean chili paste, and chili oil can be found in most Asian markets. Sichuan peppercorns can be found in Asian specialty markets, spice markets, or online. Yacai is preserved mustard root. It can be found in many Chinese grocers either sold by the piece in bulk, or in cans. Unused portions of yacai can be stored in a sealed zipper-lock bag in the refrigerator for several months.