Sichuan Hot and Spicy Tofu (Ma-po Dou-fu)

Ma-po Dou-fu – Originally known as Chen Ma-po Dou-fu, literally translates to “Old Pockmarked Mrs. Chen’s Bean Curd”. The well known story goes that old Mrs. Chen created this dish for financially challenged visitors to her husband’s restaurant in Chengdu, Sichuan. The lumps of tofu in red hot sauce reminded the locals of her pockmarked face, and so the name for one of Sichuan’s most famous dishes was born (descriptive-yet-rude, even by the standards of the 1800s). This dish is considered to be one of the best in the world by many people, including the late-great food author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain.

Ma-po Dou-fu – Sichuan Hot and Spicy Tofu

To honor this dish's greatness, make it very, very hot. It's eaten in China by each diner scooping a spoonful onto their rice and using the same spoon to eat the well sauced custard. Baby peas are not typical but do make a nice addition. Serve with white rice.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese, Sichuan, Western China
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Wok with scoop
  • Cups


  • 1 lb Tofu, firm
  • ¼ lb Bacon slices, cut crosswise into ⅛-inch slices (or use ground pork or beef)
  • 5 tbsp Ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Scallion, cut in ¼-inch slices
  • 2 tbsp Hot bean sauce (doubanjiang)
  • 1 tbsp Red chili oil (optional)
  • 1 cup Chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • ½ cup Frozen baby peas
  • 8 whole Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
  • ¼ cup Vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil


  • Prepare – Cut tofu blocks into ½-inch cubes. If they seem too soft, boil water and boil tofu cubes until they begin to float, 2-3 minutes. Drain.
    Combine seasonings in a cup by dissolving 1 part cornstarch in 2 parts water and then mixing in soy sauce, and rice wine. Combine chicken broth in another cup with peas. Combine ginger and garlic in another bowl. Combine hot bean paste and chili oil (if using) in a small bowl.
  • Cook – Heat oil in a wok until smoking hot. If you have, add peppercorns to flavor oil. Discard after 1 minute. Add meat and cook until it is broken up and a browned. Stir in hot bean sauce/chili oil, then ginger and garlic. Stir until red sauce turns the ginger and bacon red. Add chicken stock and peas. Lower heat to medium and gently stir in tofu cubes.
    Just before the liquid has cooked away, about 5 minutes, stir seasonings and add to the wok along with the scallions and peas. Check for salt and stir until sauce gets thick and looks like custard.
    Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle sesame oil over. Serve with individual bowls of rice and soup spoons to scoop ma-pa into rice and eat.


Calories: 318kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 355mg | Potassium: 139mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 142IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 2mg

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