I love eating tofu but some people find it really bland.


I think you just have to know how to cook tofu to get the best out of it, plus tofu is so versatile – you can steam, fry & stew it.


I sometimes have it simply fried in bite size cubes till it’s crispy on the outside and soft and juicy in the centre. You can taste the sweetness of the beancurd this way.


If you want, you can dip it in a little soy sauce but my favourite dip is shrimp paste mixed with sriracha & lemon juice – so delicious but a little smelly (lol).


One of my favourite tofu dish is vegan mapo tofu. Mapo Tofu – translated pockmarked grandma’s tofu – really unfortunate name but soo tasty & spicy.


This dish is usually made with minced beef or pork. For this Vegan Mapo Tofu I’ve taken out the meat and replaced it with dried mushrooms and added spicy sansi (pickled vegetables) for that extra crunch.


Here’s my take on Vegan Mapo Tofu……..

Vegan Mapo Tofu

Serves: 4 ppl    

Total time: Approx 1 hour

  • approx 500g fresh tofu (medium firm)

  • 60g dried shiitaki mushrooms (approx 11 large mushrooms)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic 
  • 2cm knob of ginger
  • 1 tbsp preserved black beans
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 2.5 tbsp chilli bean paste (Toban Djan)
  • 2.5 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 600ml water
  • 106g spicy sansi (pickled vegetables)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp frozen peas
  • cornflour mix (1 tbsp cornflour + 3 tbsp water) you may not need to use it all

Put 60g dried shiitake mushrooms in a large bowl. Add plenty of hot water, cover with plate or clingfilm and let it soak for 30 minutes until mushroom softens.

Finely dice 2 cloves of garlic.

Remove the skin from a 2 cm knob of ginger and slice to thin matchsticks.

Roughly chop 1 tbsp preserved black beans.

Drain the soaked shiitake mushrooms. Rinse mushrooms under cold water and pat try. Remove the stalks – I don’t generally use this part of the mushrooms as it’s usually quite tough. Slice mushrooms into smallish cubes.

Cut 500g of fresh tofu into approx 1.5 – 2cm cubes. Careful when cutting the tofu it doesn’t break into small pieces.

Heat up a wok on a medium to high heat and then add 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil. Add chopped preserved black beans and stir fry for 15 seconds. Add garlic and ginger to the wok, turn down the heat a little and stir fry for about 30 seconds – make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add the chopped shiitake mushrooms and stir fry for a minute. Add 1 tbsp of shaoxing wine and stir fry for another minute. Add 2.5 tbsp chilli bean paste ((Toban Djan) or more if you want it to be more spicy), 2.5 tbsp light soy sauce and 600ml water. Mix well with a wooden spatula and let cook for 5 minutes. Add tofu, 106g spicy sans (pickled vegetables, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar and carefully mix all ingredients avoiding breaking the tofu. Cook for a couple minutes.

Add the frozen peas. Mix well again and not break the tofu. Cover with lid and cook for 3 minutes on a medium heat.

Combine 1 tbsp cornflour, 3 tbsp water into a small bowl and mix.

Add the cornflour mix a little at a time to the heated wok and constantly stir until the sauce thickens to a gravy consistency.

You can add a little more soy sauce to taste as soon as the sauce is thick, then serve in a large shallow bowl.

Steam rice goes perfectly with this dish as the rice will soak up the lovely spicy sauce.

Top tip – you can use the mushroom stacks if it isn’t too tough. I try not to cut the mushrooms too small as you want to have some texture to the dish. When cooking the tofu in the wok, use a spatula and stir very gently so you don’t break the tofu too much. Add additional chilli bean sauce or chilli oil if you want it to be more spicy.

(This recipe should take less than an 1 hour to make – this includes the 30 minutes to soak the mushrooms and prep time. The dish itself only takes less than 10 minutes to cook in the wok)


I hope you get a chance to make this lovely dish.