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Spicy Sichuan Tofu and Pork (Mapo Dofu)

6 Servings

40 minutes

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This is our take on the Sichuan classic mapo dofu, a braise of tofu and ground pork in a sauce flavored with chili oil and tingling Sichuan peppercorns. Toban djan, a fermented chili-bean paste, supplies much of the bold, savory flavor here; it’s sold in jars in Asian markets. If you can't find it, substitute 1½ tablespoons red miso mixed with 1 tablespoon Asian chili-garlic sauce. You can tone down the heat by omitting the chili oil and using a total of 3 tablespoons peanut oil, but don’t cut back on the toban djan. Serve this dish with steamed rice. Leftovers taste even better, though the tofu will release water, slightly thinning the sauce.




Don’t use chili-sesame oil or sesame oil infused with chili. The sesame flavor will overpower the dish. Don’t forget to drain off the excess water from the tofu before adding it to the sauce.

40 minutes


  • 4

    teaspoons cornstarch

  • 2

    tablespoons chili oil


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Stephen A.
February 8, 2023
Packed full of flavor!
Fantastic recipe. Absolutely delicious food. We added two packs of firm tofu with the silken and it's DIVINE. It is becoming a staple of ours.
Philip W.
July 16, 2022
Great recipe, though I'm not a fan of oyster sauce; so, I eliminated it.
Helen G.
June 17, 2022
Mapo Dofu Delish
Followed this recipe for the Spicy Sichuan Tofu and Pork. It was a huge success. I will definitely cook again.
Tricia C.
June 8, 2022
Delicious, the whole family liked it! Made it just as recipe.
Creamy tofu and savory sauce
Kristen B.

Hi Milk Street, any suggestions for substitutes for oyster sauce? (Shellfish allergy.) Thanks!

Janelle C.

Hi Kristen,

The easiest substitute would be equal amounts of soy sauce.

The Milk Street Team


I made this twice and liked the flavor with so many different layers. I am Asian and don’t mind to have it spicier, so next time I will try to add one chili to give it more spiciness.

William W.

I cannot find Toban djan anywhere locally, so I'm looking for better substitutes than the red miso / chili-garlic sauce (which I tried, but the dish seemed lacking some flavor). Would gochujang work as a substitute, or is the flavor too different?

Lynn C.

Hi William -

Although both toban djan and gochujang are made from fermented bean paste, they have a very different flavor profile. Toban djan tends to be much more salty and umami in flavor. Gochujang on the other hand has a sweeter and more subdued flavor. If you don't love the miso-chili garlic sauce substitution, my guess is any other substitutions wouldn't live up either since toban djan has a pretty distinct flavor. Would you consider ordering it by mail? We have an amazing version in our Milk Street Store but it, unfortunately, is out of stock. However, there are others easily available via Mala Market or Amazon.

The Milk Street Team


On Amazon you can find Lee Kim Kee and they spell it Toban Djan. Not super cheap (almost $8) but this dish was so good I’m sure you could get 4 dinners out of it.

Colin W.

This is a good start. Flavors are a little flat and a bit thin. I'm not a fan of Sichuan peppercorns as a forward flavor. Boost the oyster sauce (two tbspoons), add mirin and sherry or sake (1 tbps each), cut the water by a third, cut the Sichuan peppercorns in half, maybe 2/3 less. Thicken with corn starch. A little honey also makes the sauce more complex.


Wow this dish was just fantastic! I love to feel the flavor in my face. I definitely over-served myself. For a vegetarian-ish version (no biggie about the oyster sauce but if i wished to leave out the pork), simply omit the pork would one need to cut down on the amount of liquid? Or suggestions of other veg to add?

Anna D.

We make this Mapo Dofu recipe several times a month. It's excellent! Instead of ground pork, we use ground turkey and it comes out great. For a little extra kick, we'll add sliced Thai chili peppers as well.