Mapo Tofu in Sichuan

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Mapo Tofu
Mapo Tofu

Mapo doufu or Mapo tofu is a popular Chinese dish from Sichuan province. It consists of tofu set in a spicy chili- and bean-based sauce, typically a thin, oily, and bright red suspension, and often cooked with douchi (fermented black beans) and minced meat, usually pork or beef. Variations exist with other ingredients such as water chestnuts, onions, other vegetables, or wood ear fungus.

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Mapo Tofu ingredients
Mapo Tofu ingredients

The story of Mapo Tofu

It is recorded that there is a couple who own a restaurant mainly selling vegetarian dishes. The wife also the cook gets some pock (麻子in Chinese)on her face. Her tofu dishes are quite popular among the guests. However some guests told her that they want to eat some meat rather than just tofu. So she bought some beef and cut it to granules and adding the beef into her tofu. Then the tofu dish with beef become more popular and her guests gave the name: Mapo tofu.

The variations of Mapo Doufu

Nowadays, along with the popular of this dish, there are many variations for example vegetarian version or pork version. Besides, mapo has becomes a kind of flavor which has also been used in other dishes. From the healthy consideration, tofu or bean curd is considered as one of the most nourishing cooking ingredients. There are many types of tofu product on market from soft tofu to firm tofu, from tofu skin to dried tofu etc. Surely, the cooking methods actually depend on the texture of the ingredients. For marinating, soft tofu is more fitful than firm tofu and for stir-frying and deep frying, firm tofu is better than soft tofu.

Pork version
Pork version

Mapo Doufu can also be found in restaurants in other Chinese provinces as well as in Japan and Korea where the flavor is adapted to local tastes. In the west, the dish is often greatly changed, with its spiciness severely toned down to widen its appeal. This happens particularly in Chinese restaurants not specialising in Sichuan cuisine. In American Chinese cuisine the dish is often made without meat to appeal to vegetarians, with very little spice, a thick sweet-and-sour sauce, and added vegetables, a stark contrast from the original dish. This vegetarian version is sometimes referred to as MaLa Tofu.