Ma Po Tofu (Stir-Fried Bean Curd with Ground Turkey or Vegan ground)

June 16, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 19 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is my favorite dish in any Chinese restaurant, where it is normally made with ground pork. Making it with ground turkey is healthier and it tastes very similar. The best part of making Chinese dishes at home, is you can cut way back on the added fat. My daughter swears that mine is better than any restaurants. This has been a slow adaptation over the years from a recipe originally published in Food & Wine —RobinDiane

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey or vegan ground round
  • 1 egg, beaten, eliminate for vegan
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced jalapeno or any hot pepper that you like
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 pound fresh firm tofu cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  1. In a medium bowl combine the turkey, egg, (or supstitute with vegan ground round) 1 tbsp. of the cornstarch, the five-spice powder, 1 tbsp.of the scallions, 1/2 tsp. of the sugar, 1/4 tsp. of the sesame oil and the salt. In a wok, heat 1 tbsp. of the vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering, then add the turkey mixture and break it up as it browns. Stir fry until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Lower the heat to moderate and heat the remaining 1 1/2 tsp. of vegetable oil until hot. Stir in 6 more tbsp. of the scallions, the red pepper, jalapeno, garlic and ginger. Stir fry until fragrant about 30 seconds. Add the turkey and the remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar; mix well. Increase the heat to high, stir in the chicken stock, soy sauce and oyster sauce and bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, dissolve the remaining 2 tsp. cornstarch in 2 tsp. of water, add the the mixture and bring back to a boil. Gently stir in the tofu, and cook until heated through. Spoon onto a serving platter and sprinkle the remaining scallions on top. Drizzle the remaining 1/2 tsp. sesame oil over the mixture. Serve with steamed rice

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • rob
  • Greg Crawford
    Greg Crawford
  • Nancy Brandwein
    Nancy Brandwein
  • Tanya Bodrug
    Tanya Bodrug
  • LeadingLatte

17 Reviews

rob October 21, 2021
Made it with the ground white turkey meat. And used lots of dried little chillies. Very delicious!
Greg C. June 16, 2021
Wow. What a great recipe for a healthy meal! Ginger, garlic, scallions, peppers...such a classic combination. And then adding the nicely seasoned turkey really put this one over the top. I did stir fry the tofu to give it a little browning and that worked out well. The seasonings were really good although I don't know that the last addition of sugar, even though small, was necessary. I doubled the amount of turkey and also over weighed the peppers, ginger, scallions and garlic and it all worked out fine. And it was on the table within an hour! This one's a keeper.
kimmiebeck January 1, 2019
What is 1 minced fresh ginger?
Sherri S. October 16, 2018
It was time for me to comment...I have made this several times and it has become a family favorite! I was out of sesame oil and substituted some chili oil. Added a little more heat but was still wonderful. I always add more veggies to this.
Nancy B. November 22, 2016
All mapo tofu dishes I've had in restaurants are much spicier, so when it came time to stir fry, I added two dried red peppers. I think you could add srichacha sauce or hot chili oil to taste to goose it up, but otherwise I found the seasonings subtle and pleasing, just needed that extra heat.
Tanya B. June 16, 2015
WOAH, this tastes amazing and it's so easy to make!
LeadingLatte November 16, 2014
This looks great and I'm interested to try it, but I noticed there's not actually any bean curd in the recipe...? Is this intentional? Thanks!
Kankay May 20, 2015
Tofu and bean curd are one and the same....
Marsha G. July 9, 2014
Thanks for the encouraging words, Abbie.
Marsha G. July 6, 2014
I was underwhelmed with this. I expected bolder, more vibrant flavors with the five spice, fresh ginger, and oyster sauce, no to mention other seasonings, but it was underseasoned. Will not be making again.
aargersi July 7, 2014
I am surprised to hear this - I happen to have made this last night as well. Since it's not baking and therefore more flexible, I suggest you adjust the seasoning to your liking - did you taste the dish as you prepared it? I personally am a fan of fresh ginger so I add extra, plus I am heavy handed with the five spice. As for soy and oyster sauce, I taste at the end and adjust accordingly. I encourage you to try this again - it really is a wonderful recipe!
Marsha G. July 9, 2014
Thanks for the encouraging words, Abbie (that I have now placed in the correct spot!).
jon407 May 16, 2014
This has become a once a month dish in our house. I'll be introducing it to our college aged son tonight.
carrieberryo May 13, 2014
This is a wonderful recipe! It's fast, inexpensive, and delicious. I didn't have oyster sauce, so I substituted a combo of soy, fish sauce, and hoisin. Like the other commenter, I added double the spices. Next time, I'll also try using a pound of turkey. My first attempt could have used a better turkey/tofu balance.
Lori C. April 14, 2014
I put in a full pound of turkey and doubled the spices; it turned out perfectly! My son even loved the tofu (first time he'd tried it - I used extra firm). I also added green beans and green cabbage that I needed to cook up - they were a perfect addition. Thanks for this - we'll be having it again.
aargersi April 9, 2014
I made this last night - delicious! Really happy that it makes enough for leftovers. I added asparagus because I had some ... other than that made it as is and loved it!
ChristinaLi February 1, 2014
this turned out much sweeter than the traditional dish. I would personally cut back on the amount of sugar.