Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Spicy bean paste is available at Asian supermarkets. Get to know your local Asian market! Mine has literally everything good inside of it, like matcha Kit Kats and nori rice crackers and tofu packages with Doraemon on them—Doraemon tofu!! I should just bring my paycheck directly there.

Kendra Vaculin

Serves: 4


For the tofu:

  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 5 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 6 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 2-inch long piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 package firm silken tofu, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons spicy bean paste (mine came in a mini toothpaste-esque tube—it looks like a thicker, lighter Sriracha)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

For serving:

  • Brown rice
  • Chopped fresh chives
In This Recipe


  1. Stick the dried mushrooms in heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water. Place a paper towel directly onto the top of the water, covering the whole top of bowl, to keep the mushrooms submerged. Let sit until rehydrated, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a pan. Add button mushrooms and fry, stirring often, until well browned, 6 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together vegetable broth, bean paste, and soy sauce. Set aside.
  4. Retrieve rehydrated 'shrooms! Drain well, removing any stemmy or super-tough bits. Give them a rough chop and then add to the fried 'shrooms pile.
  5. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, pushing the mess around for a minute or two with a wooden spoon, until fragrant. Add the cubed tofu and vegetable broth mixture, and then simmer for another one to two minutes.
  6. Add corn starch and cook for another minute, while the sauce bubbles and thickens. Stir in mushrooms.
  7. Remove pan from heat, and stir in the sesame oil. Scoop a big ol' heap of the tofu/mushroom/saucy mixture over a bowl of rice, then top with a sprinkling of scallions.

More Great Recipes:
Tofu|Sesame Oil|Soy Sauce|Bean|Fry|Vegetarian|Entree

Reviews (5) Questions (1)

5 Reviews

Megan January 11, 2019
I've never met a mapo tofu I didn't like and this vegetarian version is very tasty. I will definitely make it again! I didn't feel the need for any other veggies as others have suggested.
Alexandra L. January 3, 2018
This recipe needs an edit - in the ingredient list it says 'chives' when in the recipe itself it says 'scallions.' Two very different flavors.
Cindy W. May 9, 2017
Made a half-recipe today. Used a couple varieties of fresh mushrooms, and an asian chili paste. A nice meal, but agree with adding a bit of veg (like the yellow pepper and carrot mentioned in another comment would fill out the feel of the dish. <br />This is on our list to make again.
grahampositive October 7, 2015
Just made this and my fiance and I both loved it. Perfect spice! Paired with a quick cucumber kimchi it was the best meal we've had all week. Luckily there are leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
flourgirl May 6, 2015
From the moment I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it.<br />All in all, I loved it, but I made some additions/changes. I could not find the bean paste, so I substituted 1 T. black bean paste and 1 T siracha which I know is not the same thing, but it tasted great. I also added julienned yellow pepper and carrot, some asparagus spears, and sliced water chestnuts when I was stir frying the aromatics. I topped it with some rougly chopped cilantro which is not authentic, but I liked the flavor. I know it has been said that this is the derivative of the Times recipe, but I found that one more fuss and bother. I will definitely make this again!