Mapo Tofu is one of the greatest dishes in the world, and it exists not only inspite of, but because of the fact that the ingredient options were so severely restricted when it was created in the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province. Here's how to make a vegan version that is not only as good as, but may well be better than the real thing.
'mapo tofu' on Serious Eats
This is my favorite dish of all time, in a completely meat-free form. Using dried and fresh mushrooms complexity and texture to the fiery dish, making it every bit as good as—if not better than—the original.
"Pock-Marked Mother's Bean Curd," the translation of the name mapo tofu, gives a good indication of the homey, comforting nature of this dish, which tastes just like something Mom would make, if Mom were Chinese and an excellent cook.
"Pock-Marked Mother's Bean Curd," the translation of the name mapo tofu, gives a good indication of the homey, comforting nature of this dish, which tastes just like something Mom would make, if Mom were Chinese and an excellent cook. This vegetarian version omits the beef or pork, instead adding in some bright green peas.
Turkey with Spicy Black Beans in Tofu Dumplings is Anita Lo's adaptation of two favorite Chinese dishes, mapo tofu and steamed dumplings. By stuffing little rounds (or squares) of tofu with ground turkey mixed with scallions, fermented black beans, and doban djan, a Sichuan chile sauce, and steaming them, she's created little self contained packages filled with all of the salty, spicy flavors that make mapo tofu so irresistible.
I'm a mapo tofu fiend. It's easily my last-meal dish, particularly when it's the real deal—packed with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns brooding under a slick of red hot chili oil. But just as sometimes you're willing to give up the microbrew in exchange for an ice cold tall boy of flavorless-in-a-good-way PBR, there are times when I get a craving for heat-n-serve Japanese-style mapo tofu from a pack.
What happens when I love a dish as much as I love mapo tofu? I think to myself, how can I add offal, and thereby increase my enjoyment by twofold?