Ma Po Tofu

Chinese name: 麻婆豆腐 (má pó dòu fu)

Style: Sichuan Cuisine

Ma Po Tofu is the most well-known among the spicy and hot dishes of Sichuan Cuisine. The easy Mapo Tofu recipe below uses tofu, ground beef, chopped chili peppers, and broad bean paste.

Its characteristics can be well expressed with the following terms: spicy, hot, delicious, tender and fresh. The dish is not only popular among domestic diners, but also attracts more and more international gourmets.

Recipe of Cooking Ma Po Tofu



soft tofu, 200g
beef, 30-50g

Ingredients of Ma Po Tofu


cooking oil; fermented black soybeans; broad bean paste; chili powder; pepper powder;
salt; starch;  sesame oil; green onion; garlic; ginger

Note: The amount of the ingredients and seasonings above can be appropriately used according to one's personal taste.
Ma Po Tofu Seasonings


1. Clean the tofu and cut into 1.5cm cubes. Place onto a plate.
2. Clean and chop the beef.
3. Remove the husk of garlic and peel the ginger. Mince both of them.
4. Trim the green onion and cut into small pieces.
5. Chop the broad bean paste.
6. Prepare 10ml wet starch.
Ma Po Tofu Preparation



Poach/Boil the tofu: Place a wok with enough water over high heat. Bring it to a boil. Slide the tofu cubes into wok and add some salt which will help to release the beany flavor and keep the tofu intact. Poach for 2-3 minutes. Remove and drain off water with a colander.

Boiling the Tofu

Stir-fry the beef: Pour some cooking oil in wok and heat it till hot. Add in the ground beef and stir-fry over high heat until the beef turns yellowish-white.

Stir-frying the Chopped Beef

Process the seasonings: Push the fried beef aside with the cooking ladle. Switch to low heat. Add in minced ginger, garlic and fermented black soybeans. Mix well and stir-fry for 5 seconds until fragrant. Then add in broad bean paste and fry over moderate heat for 10-20 seconds. Add the chili powder to the mixture. Combine well with beef and fry for another 2 minutes.

Stir-frying the seasonings

Fry the tofu: Slide the poached tofu into wok. Completely combine with the seasonings added in Step 3. Add in pepper powder and sesame oil and mix well.

Stir-frying the Tofu

Sprinkle the wet starch on the ingredients and mix well. Fry over high heat until the sauce is nearly dried out. Sprinkle some chili powder and chopped green onion. Turn off the heat and serve the dish on a plate.

Thickening Ma Po Tofu

The Ma Po Tofu is done. All parties will love the hot and spicy flavor.

Ma Po Tofu

History of Ma Po Tofu

In the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), there was a small restaurant near the Wanfuqiao Dock in Chengdu. As the hostess of the restaurant had freckles (mazi in Chinese) on her face, people called her Chen Mapo, meaning a woman surnamed Chen had freckles. She prepared food for crowds of workers on the dock every day. One day, when she was going to close the restaurant, another group of workers came in and asked her to cook something. With nothing but some tofu and ground beef left, Chen Mapo chopped the broad bean paste and added the fermented black soybeans. Then she fried the tofu and beef with the broad bean paste, fermented black soybeans, and then added some chili powder and pepper powder. When she served the creative dish on the table, these workers were astonished by the great flavor. They spread the dish from mouth to mouth. Later the dish became the specialty of the restaurant. People called it Ma Po Tofu because of the name of Chen Mapo and the spicy and hot flavor.
Our Guests Attending Cooking Class
  • Our Guests Dining in a Local Family

    Our Guests Dining in a Local Family

    A tour group with 16 guests from USA and Australia, including Mr. Bruce, Ms. Ruth, Mr. Jules, and Ms. Carol had a family visit in Xi'an arranged by TravelChinaGuide. This was also the fourth time Mr. Bruce traveled with us. They enjoyed their time there and also the food offered by the hostess. Ms. Carol was so exciting to cook Chinese dish Ma Po Tofu for the first time.

  • Mr. Iain Ross McDougall & Ms. Elizabeth McDougall with the Hostess

    Mr. Iain & Ms. Elizabeth with the Hostess

    Mr. Iain & Ms. Elizabeth from USA had an unusual A la carte meal in a local Xi'an family under the elaborate management by our company. All the dishes they ate were cooked by the skillful hostess, except two of them - Mapo Tofu and Braised Pomfret were even made by Ms. Elizabeth herself under the detailed instructions of the patient hostess.

    See details at Mr. Iain's feedback
  • Mrs. Eichhorn Cooking Mapo Tofu

    Mrs. Eichhorn Cooking Mapo Tofu

    Mr. & Mrs. Eichhorn from Germany experienced a special family tour of Travelchinaguide. In addition to visit the Chinese apartment and communicate with the host, Mrs. Eichhorn also had a rare chance to learn to cook Mapo Tofu on site from the hostess. The couple commented it the most valuable experience of their China trip.

Further Reading:

10 Quick and Easy Chinese Food Recipes for Beginners

Top 15 Vegetarian Chinese Food Recipes

- Last updated on Dec. 09, 2022 -
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