Vegan Mapo Tofu

Made with 5-min home-made hot chili oil and pepper solids and simmered in a shiitake mushroom broth.

  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Vegan, Gluten-Free
  • Cuisine: Chinese


  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms or 8 ounces fresh ones
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (16-ounce) block soft tofu
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hot chili oil with pepper solids
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground Sichuan pepper (aka numbing pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste (preferably finely ground Sichuan numbing pepper)
  • Chopped green onion for garnish


  1. In a medium saucepan, simmer mushrooms in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes.
  2. Cut tofu into half-inch cubes.
  3. In another medium saucepan, bring a large amount of salted water to a boil and gently place the tofu into the boiling water. Let it cook for 2 minutes. Drain.
  4. Strain the mushroom water and reserve 1 1/2 cups. Drain the mushrooms on paper towels, remove stems and chop into small bits.
  5. In a large wok or sauté pan, heat up oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add ginger and garlic, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chopped mushrooms and a pinch of salt, sauté for another minute.
  6. Pour the reserved mushroom water into the wok. Turn the heat up to high and bring it to a boil.
  7. Add tofu cubes, hot chili oil with pepper solids and Sichuan pepper into the mixture. Shake the wok to distribute the sauce, using a wood spatula to back push the tofu gently. Turn down the heat to simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  8. In the meantime, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons cold water.
  9. Drizzle the cornstarch mixture into the tofu mixture. Back push it slowly, add brown sugar and continue simmering the tofu in the sauce until it’s thickened, about 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired.
  10. Dish, sprinkle with finely ground Sichuan numbing pepper or ground black pepper, garnish with chopped green onion and serve over rice.


1. Boiling tofu in salted water will make the tofu strong and not easy to break.

2. If you don’t have Sichuan numbing pepper, you can still make this recipe with ground black pepper. But the result is going to be less ideal.

3. For finely ground Sichuan numbing pepper, toast the peppercorns over high heat until fragrant, then process them in a food processor.


Keywords: vegan mapo tofu