• Mapo tofu (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson

Originating in Sichuan province, this fiery dish of pork, silken tofu and chilli bean paste is the perfect antidote to a cold winter's night. Serve with steamed Asian greens for a complete meal. If you prefer a thicker sauce, use the potato starch.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (269 votes)


  • 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns (see Note)
  • 500 g silken tofu
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200 g pork mince
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped, plus extra to serve 
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp chilli bean paste (see Note)
  • 3-4 Sichuan pickled chillies, chopped
  • 250 ml chicken stock or water
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp potato starch (see note), optional
  • steamed rice, to serve

Cook's notes

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.


The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.

Dry fry the peppercorns in a wok over a low heat for 1–2 minutes until light brown and aromatic. Crush lightly in a mortar and pestle.

Cut the tofu into large cubes and place in a bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover, allow to steep for 5 minutes then drain and set aside.

Place a wok over high heat. Add the oil and pork mince and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon, until evenly browned. Add the spring onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the rice wine. Add the chilli bean paste and pickled chillies and cook for 2 minutes until the oil turns red and the mixture is aromatic. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and season with soy sauce and sugar. Gently slide the tofu into the wok and work the tofu into the sauce without breaking it up too much. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6-7 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly.

Combine the potato starch (if using) with 1 tablespoon water and mix into the sauce. Cook for a further 2 minutes until thickened.

Serve sprinkled with Sichuan pepper, spring onions and steamed rice.


• Sichuan peppercorns, chilli bean paste and potato starch are available from Asian supermarkets.
• Shaoxing is Chinese cooking wine, substitute with dry sherry if unavailable.


Photography by Alan Benson