Traditionally made with beef or pork, this vegetarian mapo tofu is spicy, beautifully textured and lands with a punchy umami hit. Adjust the chilli heat to suit your own taste and add a pinch of white sugar in true Chinese style.
- 25 g (8–9 small) dried shiitake mushrooms
- 300 g silken tofu, cut into 4 cm cubes
- 125 g extra-firm tofu, cut into 1 cm cubes
- 1 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
- 1–2 tbsp chilli bean sauce (see Note)
- 2 tsp finely grated ginger
- 2 tsp black bean sauce
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 6 spring onions
- ½–1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
- steamed rice to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 10 minutes
Place the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 350 ml boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes until softened. Drain, reserving the water. Trim the shiitake stalks and discard. Finely chop the caps and set aside.
Place the silken tofu in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 10 mins. Drain, discard water. Wrap the firm tofu in a few pieces of paper towel and squeeze gently to drain as much water as possible. Repeat again if necessary.
Heat the peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Add the firm tofu and mushrooms and stir fry for 3–4 minutes, roughly breaking up the tofu, until golden. Add the chilli bean sauce and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add 275 ml reserved shitake water, black bean sauce and soy sauce. Bring to the boil, add the silken tofu and gently stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Slice the white part of the spring onion into 3 cm lengths and add to the wok. Cook, uncovered, for a further 3 minutes until the spring onion softens. Stir through the Sichuan pepper.
Finely slice the remaining spring onion and scatter over the top. Serve immediately
• Chilli bean sauce is available in the Asian aisle of some supermarkets and in Asian food stores.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.
Pebble bowl from Mud. Tomkin rice bowls and chinese spoons from The Chef and The Cook.