Ma Po Tofu with Pork
with rice / spicy green beans
This spicy, saucy Chinese tofu with pork has gained a following of fans since we first featured it in 2017. Some reviewers have even tracked down Szechuan peppercorns to give this dish its signature mouth-numbing spice.
Smarts: In China, Szechuan peppercorns are traditionally toasted and then ground in the first step of this recipe. Since they can be difficult to find, we use chili-garlic sauce to spice this version.
- Green beans - 1 lb, trimmed
- Oil, sesame - 2 Tbsp
- Ma Po Sauce (ingredients listed separately) - 1 Tbsp
- Rice, uncooked white or brown - 1 1/2 cups
- Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
- Ginger, fresh - 2 tsp, grated
- Ketchup - 4 Tbsp
- Soy sauce, low-sodium - 2 Tbsp
- Chinese black bean sauce - 2 Tbsp (find this in the international aisle as regular, black bean garlic, or a spicy version called doubanjiang)
- Sugar - 1 tsp
- Chili-garlic sauce - 2 tsp (sub any hot sauce)
- Green onions - 2 stalks, chopped, green and white parts separate
- Tofu, soft - 16 oz, 1" / 2.5 cm cubes (sub firm tofu)
- Cornstarch - 2 Tbsp
- Stock, any type - 2 cups
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Pork, ground - 8 oz
- Ma Po Sauce (ingredients listed separately) - 8 Tbsp
- Lime juice - 2 tsp
Garlic / Ginger / Green beans - Prep as directed and store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Make Ma Po sauce - Combine garlic, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, black bean sauce, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Rice - (This makes enough for 2 nights.) For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Green onions - Prep as directed. Store green and white parts separately. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
Tofu - Drain liquid off tofu and slice into 1" / 2.5 cm cubes.
Heat a wok over medium-high heat for green beans. Add sesame oil then green beans to heated oil. Saute for 10 to 12 minutes, until browned and blistered.
While green beans cook, whisk cornstarch into stock.
Stir Ma Po sauce (portion for green beans) into green beans and remove from heat. Season to taste with some salt. Set aside, covered to keep warm.
Return wok to medium-high heat and add cooking oil. Add white parts of green onions and pork. Saute, breaking pork into small pieces, until it begins to brown. Drain any excess liquid or oil from wok and return to heat.
Pour remaining sauce and stock / cornstarch mixture over pork and bring to a simmer. Add tofu and reduce heat to medium. Simmer gently to let the flavors come together, 2 to 3 minutes more. Taste tofu and add some chili-garlic sauce if you'd like it to be spicier.
If rice was made ahead, warm in the microwave (reserve half for Thursday).
Top tofu with lime juice and green parts of green onions. Serve with rice and green beans on the side. Enjoy!
This was such an easy version and still came out very good. I'd make this again.0 Helpful
WINNER in this house! We love Cooksmarts Asian Recipes! I found a red jar of Lee Kum Kee brand "Spicy Bean Sauce / Ma Po Sauce" at the Asian Market and doctored it up as suggested, very carefully adding more and more of the store-bought sauce to increase the spiciness. I left out the chili-garlic sauce and sugar. So proud of the results.0 Helpful
This was really very good. My husband really enjoyed the sauce. I made a couple of substitutions. I added a package of ramen noodles and more broth. I think my chili garlic sauce may be loosing it's punch, but the version I made was not very spicy. (which is good, because I'm very sensitive.) I also used extra firm tofu and sauteed it first so it was a bit toasty. I used a smidgen of sesame oil and some grapeseed, because I find sesame oil overwhelming. But at the end of the day there wasn't much left.0 Helpful
So yummy - glad to know the reviewer below suggestion of hoisin sauce instead of black bean as that might tone down spice quotient further for my girls.0 Helpful
I love this recipe and have made it several times. I like making the Ma Po sauce without the stock or corn starch as more of a stir fry rather than a stew. So yum! I also used hoisin sauce today instead of black bean sauce because I was out and it was still great.0 Helpful