Vegan Mapo Tofu (Braised Tofu in a Spicy+Savory Sauce)

vegan mapo tofu

This is inspired and adapted from Omnivore’s Cookbook Mapo Tofu recipe. It’s so easy, so delicious and loaded with spice and umami funk.

In the Beforetimes, I would usually go to H-Mart in Cambridge to grab things like Doubanjiang and Sichuan peppercorns, which are essential to this dish. While there, I would either visit a friend or explore some part of downtown and find some vegan place to eat at. I really miss doing that. To get these two things for this recipe, I just ordered them from amazon, from my home, in my daytime sweatpants. : (

Vegan Mapo Tofu

Traditional Mapo Tofu uses ground beef or pork in the sauce, but I used minced fresh shiitakes here. You could probably also use crumbled tempeh (steam first).

Vegan Mapo Tofu


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vegan mapo tofu

Vegan Mapo Tofu (Braised Tofu in Spicy + Savory Sauce)

  • Author:
    erin wysocarski

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    25 minutes

  • Total Time:
    40 minutes

  • Yield:
    2 servings 1x

for the marinade

  • 2 tsp dry sherry
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp finely minced ginger
  • 2 tsp grated garlic (grated on a microplane grater)
  • 2 scallions, chopped (separate white and green parts, use white parts here and reserve green parts for serving)
  • 4 tsp finely minced shallots

for the rest

  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 cup minced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 TB Doubanjiang
  • 1/4 cup hot vegetable broth
  • 15 oz. block tofu, diced into 1X1-inch cubes (I used Kettle-style firm)
  • 2 tsp chili oil
  • 1 cup hot vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch, whisked with 1 TB water in a small bowl

to serve

  • the reserved green parts of the chopped scallions
  • more chili oil, if desired
  • rice (optional)


to make the marinade

  1. Combine the sherry, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, scallions and shallots in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, warm the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the peppercorns. When they turn brown and crispy, strain them through a fine mesh sieve, catching the oil in a small bowl. Scrape the oil back into the skillet and reserve the peppercorns.
  3. Reduce the skillet heat to medium. Add the shiitakes and allow to cook down for several minutes. Add the Doubanjiang and stir to combine.
  4. Add the 1/4 hot cup broth to deglaze and loosen the mixture.
  5. Add in the bowl of marinade. Stir to combine.
  6. Gently place the tofu on top of the shiitakes in the skillet.
  7. Whisk the chili oil, and vegetable broth together in a small measuring cup. Pour over the top and allow to come to a simmer. Don’t stir or touch the tofu or it will break up. As it braises, it will firm up and then you can stir it.
  8. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. The sauce will reduce and the tofu will absorb the marinade and develop a nice texture.
  9. Add in the sugar and gently stir with a rubber spatula.
  10. Add the cornstarch slurry to the skillet. Gently stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat.
  11. Ground the reserved peppercorns in a coffee grinder.
  12. Divide the tofu into two bowls. Top with the reserved green onions, more chili oil and the ground peppercorns, to taste.
  13. Serve as is or with rice.

Vegan Mapo Tofu

Braised tofu is amazing: pillowy soft and a perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture. I’ll be making and shoving this into my face often!

Vegan Mapo Tofu

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