Mápó dòufu (麻婆豆腐) is a classic spicy 🌶 tofu and meat 🥩 dish from Sichuan province in China.
So today, let’s look at this popular tofu dish that you can find in nearly any Sichuan restaurant!
Origins of Mapo Toufu
But first, a few words about its origins. It’s an interesting story about a woman who couldn’t even imagine that her recipe will be popular all around China one day and the history will remember her.
The lady opened ChenXingSheng food stand with her husband near the Wanfu Bridge in 1874.
“Mapo” wasn’t really her name. It was Wen Qiaoqiao (温巧巧). But as a married, lower-class Chinese woman in the Qing dynasty, she didn’t use her real birth name. In that era, a married woman in China had to change her name into a combination of her husband’s last name and her marital last name, to show her husband’s “ownership” of her. But it was worse for young Wen, because her husband Chen’s face was disfigured with pockmarks (麻子 🔹 mázi), people only remembered her as Ma’po (麻婆), the wife (婆婆 🔹 pópo – it’s an outdated word for a “wife”) of the pockmarked man (麻子 🔹 mázi).
Her tofu dish was very popular among guests, but some of them told her that it would be better to add some meat instead of eating a plain tofu. So she bought some beef, cut it and began to add to her tofu. It was a real success and the history still remember her name as the creator of one of the most popular Sichuan dishes.
Variations of Mapo Tofu
There are lots of variations of this dish, including a vegetarian one made without pork. But the traditional version is made of tofu set in a spicy sauce, typically a thin, oily, and bright red suspension, based on douban (豆瓣 🔹 dòubàn – halves of a bean) and douchi (豆豉 🔹 dòuchǐ – black bean sauce), along with minced meat, usually pork or beef.
The Taste of Mapo Tofu
It’s spicy, as almost everything in Sichuan (this province is famous for its spicy food, Sichuan pepper can really give you a dragon 🐉 breath!), hot and aromatic. As it is so hot, it’s the perfect dish for an autumn and coming winter which can give you warm during this cold seasons.
Stay warm and wish you all a wonderful autumn 😸🍂