Mapo tofu is the ultimate comfort dish in Chinese cooking. It originates in the Sichuan province where the dish is traditionally more spicy with the “ma la” - numbing spiciness coming from the Sichuan peppercorns added at the end. I personally love the soft, slide-down-your-mouth silken tofu paired with the thick ragu sauce.

We had a version of mapo tofu in my Cantonese household where we used ground up turkey meat instead of pork and skipped out on the spicy dobanjang (spicy bean paste) and Sichuan peppercorns, which are sort of the base flavors of mapo tofu, but it was delicious and comforting nonetheless.

For our version of vegan mapo tofu, I’m using my favorite brand of beef crumbles, but you can choose another brand, add TVP or even substitute beans. This recipe is one of my favorites because it’s consistent - it always turns out amazing. All you need to do is spoon it over a bed of rice and your job is done.

Vegan Mapo Tofu

(Serves 4)

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoons Dobanjang (Chilli Bean Paste)
  • 1/2 cup vegan beef crumbles
  • 1 box silken tofu, cubed

Sauce Mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup water or vegan chicken broth

Final Seasonings:

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon Sichuan pepper, ground
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions.

Directions

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a pan over medium-medium high heat. Add in the garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Put in the dobanjang and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring to make sure nothing burns.
  2. Turn heat down to medium and add in the vegan beef crumbles. Stir to make sure all the crumbles are coated. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the vegan beef crumbles are cooking, mix together all the ingredients in the sauce mixture.
  4. Turn beef crumble mixture to medium high and add in the sauce mixture.
  5. Immediately add in the cubed silken tofu.
  6. Gently stir the mixture until it thickens. Turn off heat.
  7. Add in the sesame oil and Sichuan peppercorns. Top in chopped scallions.
  8. Serve over a bed of warm rice.