All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Mabodofu / mapo spicy tofu

Originally a meat dish. Bay shrimp work fine and result in milder flavor.

(4-6 servings)

2 soft tofu (4 half-size tofu in photo)
100-150 g bay shrimp
1 green onion
1 clove garlic
1 knob ginger
1 red chili pepper
1tbsp tochijan black bean paste
1-2 tsp hua jiao Sichuan pepper

For seasoning
70 cc chicken stock
2 tsp (slightly less than 1 tbsp) oyster sauce
1 tsp tobanjan chili bean paste
1 tbsp sake
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy sauce

1-2 tbsp potato starch (mixed with water)
1 tbsp oil (not in photo)


Toast hua jiao Sichuan pepper in frying pan, and grind in mortar (or crush).

Finely chop green onion, garlic and ginger.

Seed and slice red chili pepper, if not already sliced.


Mix all ingredients for seasoning.


Put oil in a pot and saute green onion, garlic and ginger on medium to medium low heat until fragrant.

Add tochijan black bean paste, red chili pepper and hua jiao Sichuan pepper, and saute until fragrant.

Add shrimp and stir.

If there is lots of liquid from shrimp, boil it down (this can happens when using frozen shrimp).

Cut tofu on your palm into small cubes, and gently transfer to pot, supporting with knife (place the ridge/dull side of knife on your palm, right next to tofu and slide tofu into pot).


Pour seasoning, and stir.
Cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tofu absorbs flavor.


Thicken liquid.

Pour potato starch and water mixture, 1/3 to 1/2 of the specified amount each time. Stir, and add more if necessary.

  • Process 3 (mixing all ingredients for seasoning) can be skipped but recommended for smooth operation, since you will likely be cooking other dishes too.
  • Always stir potato starch and water mixture before pouring. The proportion of the mixture is 1 part potato starch and 2 parts water. If unfamiliar, use 3 parts water. Until you are accustomed to the method, slowly pour potato starch mixture, first using a spatula or ladle and stir, or first remove from heat and pour, stir and put back on heat. Pouring a lot at once in very hot liquid can result in lumps. 
  • Corn starch can substitute for potato starch. However, it seems to take more corn starch and time to thicken liquid.
  • For meat instead of shrimp, pork or beef (ground or thin slices cut into small pieces) or in combination works.

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