If you’ve never heard of Mapo Tofu, then you are in for a real treat. I came across video by Wil Yeung on YouTube and you know what happened next? That’s right, it ended up on my plate a few days later!
For those of you not in the know, Mapo Tofu is a Chinese dish from the Sichuan province . It is delicious and spicy and pretty easy to make. And best of all? Easy to make completely vegan.
The key to this vegan version of mapo tofu is perfectly cooked crimini mushrooms. I like to start the mushrooms in the oven and finish’em off on top of the stove so you get that nice crispy earthy flavor on the outside and a nice bit of moisture on the inside.
You can make a really complicated Mapo Tofu dish, or you can keep it simple. I chose the simple option.
Tofu (I used smoked since it was the only tofu around)
Szechuan peppercorns (if you can find them!)
While the mushrooms are in the oven, it’s time for the rest of the ingredients to take center stage. Toast the dried red chilies or if you have chili oil, heat it up and add the tofu and ginger. This isn’t a traditional way by any means, but I don’t like to use a lot of oil and I didn’t have peppercorns to cook in the oil anyway.
Once the ginger becomes fragrant, add garlic and mushrooms. Cook for a few more minutes and then add soybean paste if you have it (this is the brand I’ve tried and liked), otherwise this is where you can add the soy sauce and water and cornstarch mixture.
When the mixture starts to bubble, lower the heat and add the peppercorns and/or chili oil for garnish, which you might notice by the photos that I didn’t have.
Garnish with scallions or toasted sesame seeds, but I don’t think this dish needed either one. It was flavorful and spicy and something I’ll make again probably with vegan mince or TVP, or any manner of vegan protein.
Serve on top of the rice or toss together at the last minute for a one pot Mapo Tofu.
Then, just enjoy with something nice and cold to drink because, if you do it right, it’s pretty spicy. Just the way I like it!