How to Make Vegan Mapo Tofu: A Spin on The Popular Chinese Dish
Mapo tofu is an authentic Chinese dish from the Sichuan province consisting of silky, braised tofu in a spicy sauce with fermented black beans, along with hot peppers and a meat component, usually beef. However, the dish is versatile and easily transformed into a vegan masterpiece with this restaurant-quality recipe.
In this meatless version, one thing to note is that soft or silken tofu works best for texture purposes because when the tofu is firm, it's likely to crumble and this dish is all about the smooth, glossy appearance of the soy-based protein. We also use dried shitake mushrooms and lion's mane mushrooms as a meat-like alternative and a great way to enhance rich, earthy flavors.
When you choose to swap meat for vegetables, you're reducing your risk of inflammation in the body which is linked to numerous diseases. But, with this recipe, you're taking better care of your health without giving up traditional dishes you love, like Mapo Tofu.
Recipe developed from Chinah, a restaurant located in NY and NJ
Vegan Mapo Tofu from Chinah
Yields 4 servings
- 1 box of silken tofu
- A handful of dried shiitake mushroom
- A handful of dried lions mane mushroom
- 3 dried red chili pepper
- 1 tablespoon sliced ginger
- 3 tablespoons Vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
- 1 tablespoon fermented broad bean paste (aka doubanjiang)
- 1 tablespoon vegan oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon corn starch, dissolved in cold water
- Soy sauce to taste
- Sugar to taste
- Garnish of your choice (scallions or cilantro)
- Soak dried shiitake mushroom and dried lion’s mane mushroom for 3-4 hours, remove stems from the lion’s mane mushroom to rid the bitterness, dice the rest.
- Dice the dried red chili peppers, and cut tofu into 1-inch cubes.
- Oil the pan on high heat, when oil is hot, put in diced chili peppers, ginger slices, and Sichuan peppercorns. Take all condiments out when fragrant, and discard.
- Reduce heat to medium, add doubanjiang, stir-fry until fragrant, add water to slightly above 1 inch in pan, add vegan oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar to taste, mix the sauce, and bring to a boil.
- Add tofu cubes gently into the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the corn starch water. Plate and garnish with scallions or cilantro.