Cheap Meals

Mapo Tofu with Pork (麻婆豆腐)

4 servings


10 minutes

active time

20 minutes

total time


1 stalk green onion

3 shallots

2 dried chili peppers

2 cloves garlic

1 mini orange sweet pepper

1 mini red sweet pepper

1 lb soft tofu

3 oz ground pork

1 tbsp oil

1 ½ tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp ground bean sauce

1 cup water

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chili sauce

1 tsp sesame oil


Step 1 - Prepare aromatics & garnish

Mince the green onion (1 stalk) into small pieces.

Finely dice the shallots (3 ).

Cut away the stems of the dried chili peppers (2 ) and discard. Then cut the chili peppers into smaller pieces, about 6-7 pieces.

Smash and peel garlic (2 clove). Mince them into small pieces.

Cut the mini sweet pepper (1 ) in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into strips and then dice into small pieces. Repeat with the other mini sweet pepper (1 ).

Step 2 - Prepare tofu

Use your knife to cut along the four edges of the tofu (1 lb) package. While the tofu is still in the package, tilt the package to pour out the water that's inside.

In case of preservatives, you can rinse the tofu under clean water.

Once rinsed, the tofu is ready to be cut. Make one horizontal cut through the middle of the tofu.

Then, halve the tofu vertically several times to result in bite-sized tofu cubes.

From a top-down perspective, the first cut will result in two rectangles. Halve those rectangles into four thinner rectangles with two more cuts. Then, halve the tofu block across the rectangles to result in eight shorter rectangles, and make two more cross cuts on either side to find yourself with 16 cubes on top (and 16 cubes below!)

Transfer the cubes to a plate.

Step 3 - Stir-fry aromatics & meat

Heat the wok on high heat. When the wok is just about to start smoking, lower the heat and add oil (1 tbsp). Swirl the oil around to evenly coat the wok.

Heat the oil for 30-40 seconds, and add the chopped garlic, shallots, and dried chilis. Fry the aromatics until they are fragrant, which should take 15-20 seconds.

Then add the pork (3 oz) to the wok. Thoroughly break up the pork so there aren't any big pieces of meat. Flip and loosen up the meat as your stir it in with the aromatics.

Stir-fry the pork for about a minute.

Step 4 - Add seasoning & tofu

To the wok, add ground bean sauce (1 tbsp). Let it cook for a few seconds, then pour the water (1 cup) in. Turn the heat to low.

Add oyster sauce (1 tbsp), light soy sauce (1 tbsp), dark soy sauce (1 tbsp), sugar (1 tsp), salt (0.50 tsp), and chili sauce (0.50 tsp).

Next, add the tofu in by lowering the plate into the wok and gently easing the tofu in.

Use your spatula to nudge the tofu around and into the sauce.

Step 5 - Add slurry & finish

In a small bowl, mix up a slurry with cornstarch (1.5 tbsp) and water (2 tbsp). Stir thoroughly until the cornstarch is well dissolved.

After 1.5-2 minutes of simmering the sauce and tofu, lower the heat and take the lid off the wok.

Adjust for color with dark soy sauce and chili sauce as needed.

Then, thicken the sauce with the slurry by pouring it in slowly and gradually all around the wok. Stir it in gently to incorporate.

Simmer the sauce for another 2 minutes.

Then, add about half of the chopped green onions (reserve the rest for final garnish at the very end) and all of the chopped sweet peppers. Add sesame oil (1 tsp) and mix it in.

Adjust the consistency as needed with more slurry or water.

Turn off the heat, plate, and enjoy!

4 servings


10 minutes

active time

20 minutes

total time
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