Sichuan style tofu dish with Sichuan peppercorns and black bean sauce. It's spicy, delicious, and has an amazing flavour. Vegan and super simple, this recipe is my version of vegan Mapo tofu. This dish is crowd-pleasing and a filling side with a rice meal.
Asian cuisine is a big favourite with my family. Some examples include our love for Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese dishes. We love to explore different restaurants in our city as well as all the places we travel to.
In our previous city, which was our home away from home, we used to frequent a restaurant that specialized in Sichuan cuisine.
The ambience, service, and above all, the food was top notch. Our kids were quite young still they loved and appreciated all the food. That was the power of lovely Sichuan cuisine.
We tried and loved every dish in that restaurant but our favourite was Mapo Tofu. It was a truly enjoyable dish if you love relishing spicy food.
What is Mapo Tofu?
Mapo Tofu is a famous dish from the Sichuan province of China. It's traditionally made with minced pork and tofu. Of course, I made a vegan version of this recipe. Finely chopped shitake mushroom is used in the vegan version of Mapo Tofu.
I can't say it's authentic since I am not an expert on Chinese cuisine but my family enjoys this vegan version of mine.
What Ingredients are Needed for this Recipe?
Tofu- Traditionally, soft tofu is used in this recipe. We love to use extra firm tofu in our dishes and I always prefer to shallow fry, air fry, or bake my tofu.
However, this recipe calls for soft, melt-in-the-mouth tofu so that you can feel that creamy texture inside.
I will strongly recommend using soft tofu for this recipe. The high moisture content in this tofu creates a wonderful custard-like consistency.
I have used silken tofu in this recipe after soaking them in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
Mushroom- I like to use shitake mushroom in this recipe; it replaces the minced pork in the recipe.
Quite frankly using other varieties of mushrooms doesn't make much difference to the dish. Minced mushroom definitely brings many flavours to the vegan version.
Sichuan Peppercorn- Sichuan peppercorn has a very different aromatic peppery kind of flavour. It doesn't have anything in common with black peppercorns.
One interesting fact is that it brings a little numbness to your mouth. Now don't get alarmed; you can feel it, but in a good way. It is an acquired taste; however this ingredient is the most important ingredient for the recipe.
I have roasted the peppers to enhance the flavour and will suggest you all do the same.
Spicy Black Bean Sauce- A spicy sauce made of fermented black bean paste and chillies. There is so much depth of flavour in the sauce and it is really delicious.
Chilli Oil- I love how flavorful this oil is and how it creates a wonderful aromatic base for Mapo Tofu.
Other than that there are a lot of usual flavourings which are used for Chinese cuisine. Chopped ginger and garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine), sugar, corn starch and of course oil to cook in.
Green onion or scallions are the most wonderful garnish you could have for this Chinese dish.
How to Cook Vegan Mapo Tofu-
1- The first step is to roast Sichuan peppers. I have roasted them without any oil or anything. Roasting improves the flavour. I crushed them in a mortar and pestle after roasting and cooling them.
Remember, you don't have to make a fine powder out of it. A simple coarse texture is what we need for this recipe.
2- Second, soak tofu in boiling water after cutting it. It actually helps in getting the right texture.
3- In a wok/pan over medium-high heat, add oil of your choice. Add crushed Sichuan peppercorns and cook for 1 minute. Add chopped ginger and garlic to it. Cook for 30 seconds or so to get the nice flavour.
Add chopped mushroom and saute till the mushroom caramelizes. Add the black bean sauce, chilli oil, and wine to the mixture.
Stir it well and cook it for 1 or 2 minutes, add water and let it simmer for some time. Whisk corn starch and water mixture to dissolve.
Add that to the sauce and cook a little more for some time. Allow the sauce to thicken as per your liking. If it's too thick, add some more water.
Gently mix the tofu to the sauce in the wok. Don't stir it the hard way, otherwise, the tofu will break down.
Taste now for seasoning. I have not added extra salt since all the Chinese sauces have salt in them. If you still need that you can add it as per your liking but I will strongly suggest you do so only after tasting it.
You May Also Want to Check Out Some Other Tofu Recipes,
Vegan Mapo Tofu
- 14 Oz Soft /Silken Tofu
- 2 Tbsp Oil
- 2 Tbsp Black Bean Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Chili Oil
- 1.5 Tbsp Sichuan Peppercorn (adjust according to your taste)
- 6 Oz Chopped Mushroom
- 1.5 Tbsp Ginger chopped
- 1.5 Tbsp Garlic Chopped
- 1.5 Tsp Seasame Oil
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 Tsp Shaoxing wine (chinese cooking wine)
- ½ Tsp Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Chopped Scallion
- 1.5 Tsp Corn Starch
- 1.5 Cup Water
- Boil water in a big pot and add tofu cubes for two minutes. Remove cubes from the water and place them on the paper towel.
- Dry roast sichuan peppercorn in a hot pan/skillet. Coarsely grind them after roasting and keep them aside.
- Take a pan or wok. Add oil to it and heat on medium. Add sichuan peppercorn and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add chopped ginger and garlic and cook till they look fragrant and golden.
- Add chopped mushroom to it and cook till it caramelizes.
- Turn up the heat to medium/high and add black bean sauce and chili oil. Stir it around for 1 minute.
- Add Chinese cooking wine, sugar, and salt (if you really need it).
- Furthermore, add one cup of water to it and let it cook on high heat.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and add cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsps of water.
- Allow it to bubble and let it cook till it thickens to your liking.
- Add the tofu to the sauce and mix it very gently. Do not break tofu.
- Taste the seasoning. If you need to add something, do it now.
- Garnish with some green onion and serve with a side of your choice.
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