This easy Non Spicy Mapo Tofu recipe is super adaptable and is sure to please all palates. Add your favorite chili if you miss the heat or omit ground pork for vegetarians.
Anyone who calls tofu bland or boring hasn't tried Mapo Tofu. This dish is anything but bland. It's loaded with deep, complex flavors, aromatic garlic and ginger, with a kick of heat at the end. The perfect accompaniment is a large bowl of steamed rice.
Traditionally, Mapo Tofu is spicy. If you order the dish, you should expect some level of heat. To accommodate our two young girls, I developed this non-spicy easy Mapo Tofu recipe and now it's become a family favorite of ours. Of course if you prefer a traditional spicy Mapo Tofu, it's easy to add some heat with chili paste, chili sauce or chili oil, or even fresh/dried chilis.
Most restaurants make Mapo Tofu way too oily, often smothered in spicy chili oil. If you're like me, I find that all that excess oil is completely unnecessary and makes it far less enjoyable. This Non Spicy Mapo Tofu packs the same flavors you'll find in restaurants, but it won't make you feel weighed down since it's not drowning in grease. Trust me, your stomach and your health will thank me.
Mapo Tofu dates back many centuries. Over the years, several provinces of China have adopted their own variation of the dish, influenced by local ingredients. This non-spicy version acts as the perfect base. It can easily be adapted to your personal taste. Do have a fondness for the numbing (mala) sensation of Szechuan dishes? Add a bit of Sichuan peppercorns. Vegetarian? Omit the pork and replace chicken stock with water or vegetable stock. Like a lot of mapo tofu sauce? Add an extra cup of chicken stock.
How to Make Mapo Tofu (Not Spicy)
Using a wok is the easiest, but a deep sauté pan or even a pot can be used. Be sure to prep all your ingredients before you start cooking. Get the mapo tofu sauce ready by mixing all the SAUCE ingredients in a small bowl.
Cook the Aromatics: Heat a wok over high heat until it gets piping hot. Add a tablespoon of oil, just enough to coat the surface. Allow the oil to heat up, turn the heat down to medium, then add ginger and garlic. Fry for 10-20 seconds, just long enough for the garlic to change color.
Brown the Pork: Add ground pork to the aromatics. Crank the heat back up to high. Use a spatula and break up the pork into small pieces. Allow it to cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Add the Sauce: When the pork is nicely browned, add the white parts of the scallions and stir in the premixed mapo tofu sauce. Allow it to come to a boil.
Add the Tofu: Carefully add tofu to the meat sauce and gently mix to avoid breaking up the tofu.
Finish it Off: Add chicken broth and allow it to come to a boil. Gently stir in a couple tablespoons of cornstarch slurry. As soon as you drizzle in the cornstarch slurry, stir it into the sauce right away so it doesn't form lumps. Let it come back to a boil and you'll notice the sauce has thickened. Repeat with the cornstarch slurry until it reaches your desired consistency. Top it off with the green parts of the scallions and serve with rice.
What is Mapo Tofu Ramen?
Give me a bowl of rice topped with Mapo Tofu and I am in heaven. It seems like they were made for each other. A bowl of fluffy steamed rice, topped with silky tofu smothered in saucy porky goodness. There is no better way to enjoy Mapo Tofu.
Then one evening, it all changed. While rummaging through the kitchen for a midnight snack, my options were some leftover Mapo Tofu and some Tung-I Instant Ramen (Tung-I is my favorite brand of instant noodles. The Chinese onion flavor is something I grew up eating and the one I highly recommend).
Can you see where this is going? I made a package of ramen and topped it off with a huge scoop of Mapo Tofu. DEEELICIOUS! What a great combo, Mapo Tofu with noodles, who knew?! Try it for yourself. I'm certain you'll love it as much as I do, especially for a midnight snack.
- 2 lbs soft or medium firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ inch knob of ginger, minced
- ½ lb ground pork
- 1 stalk scallions, chopped, green parts separated from the white.
- 1 ½ cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoon cold water (cornstarch slurry)
- In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the SAUCE.
- Heat up a wok or sauté pan over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add minced garlic and ginger. Fry for about 10 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add ground pork and use a spatula to break it up into small pieces.
- When the pork is nicely browned, add the white parts of the scallions.
- Pour in the SAUCE and toss well with the meat for about 30 seconds. The sauce will begin to smell very fragrant.
- Add tofu and gently incorporate it into the sauce. Be careful not to break up the tofu.
- Add chicken stock and turn up the heat to bring it to a boil. Turn the heat back down to medium and let it continue at a soft boil until the tofu is heated through (about one minute). Stir occasionally, again being careful not to break up the tofu.
- Gently stir in half of the cornstarch slurry and let it come back to a boil. You'll notice the sauce has thickened. Repeat with another tablespoon of cornstarch slurry until you reach your desired consistency.
- Sprinkle green parts of the scallions over the top and serve.