Mapo tofu or sometimes called grandma’s tofu is a famous classic dish in Sichuan cuisine. Likewise, they named it after its inventor. The creation of mapo tofu dated all the way back to 1892. Specifically, during the era of the Qing Dynasty (1616 – 1911). There was a couple with the family name Chen. Who owns and run a small restaurant called Chen Xingsheng restaurant in Chengdu. Besides, the naming of this dish came from the pockmarks (“ma” in Mandarin). The scarring of the face of Mrs Cheng from smallpox during her childhood and “po” means old lady or grandma.
Basically, they make Mapo tofu using soy bean curd tofu prepared in a spicy chilli and bean sauce. Usually, tofu is the main ingredient. Then they add either minced beef or pork and sometimes minced chicken as another main ingredient alongside tofu. But vegetarian versions or vegan versions using mushrooms are also popular ingredients for this much loved classic dish.
Characteristics of Mapo Tofu Dish
Typically, there are seven characteristics of an authentic Mapo tofu dish. Specifically, they include: 麻(ma – numbing), 辣(la – spicy), 烫(tang – hot). Plus 香(xiang – aromatic), 酥(su – flaky or crumbly), 嫩(nen – soft and tender) and 鲜(xian – fresh). Although, there are many variations of mapo tofu in China and in Chinese restaurants worldwide. Usually, they reduce the hot and spicy and numbing effects of this authentic Sichuan dish to mild. In order to adapt to local taste buds. There are also Japanese and Korean variations of this popular dish.
Gluten Free Mapo Tofu (Grandma’s Tofu)
For my gluten free Mapo tofu recipe, I am using lean minced beef and organic firm tofu. Then I cook the main ingredients in a mildly hot and spicy sauce. Besides, I made the sauce with gluten free black bean sauce and gluten free light soy sauce. As well as minced garlic, grated ginger, hot chilli sauce, hot chilli powder and Sichuan peppercorn powder. This gluten free mapo tofu recipe is also low carb, dairy free, egg free and nut free.
You may also like my other tofu recipes:
Nutritional Values and Health Benefits of Lean Minced Beef
Lean minced beef or ground beef is a good source of protein. Moreover, it is also a good source of B group of vitamins. Namely, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B12. In addition, it is a substantial source of essential minerals like potassium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
In summary, the health benefits of lean minced beef may include:
- Assist in production of healthy blood cells;
- Support healthy metabolism in the body;
- Boost the immune function;
- Maintain healthy skin;
- Sustain healthy muscle and nerve functions; and
- Promote a good digestive system.
Mapo Tofu (Grandma’s Tofu)
For the Marinate:
For the Sauce:
For the Garnish:
- 2 spring onions (shallots) thinly sliced
- hot chilli powder for sprinkling
- Mix and combine well all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl.
- Marinade the minced beef or pork with the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well.
- Heat up a non-stick wok with 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, pan fry the garlic on low heat until lightly golden.
- Add in the minced meat and stir fry on medium heat until just cooked.
- Then add in the sauce prepared and stir fry for 5 minutes on medium heat or until aromatic.
- Add the corn starch mixture into the sauce, stir and mix well. Bring to a boil, then gently slide in all the tofu pieces into the sauce.
- Bring to a boil again, stirring gently by pushing the tofu and minced meat. Then cover with wok lid and simmer on low to medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until the minced meat is heated through.
- Sprinkle some hot chilli powder on top and garnish with some spring onion (shallots).
- Serve with steamed basmati rice.