Mapo Tofu With Chicken (麻婆豆腐鸡)

A spicy Sichuan classic for good reason: it's easy to make, delicious, and healthy!

Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Yields
4 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

Mapo Tofu is a staple of Chinese cuisine, a perfect exemplar of the rich, bold, and spicy flavors of Sichuan.

Unlike other dishes, we can actually pinpoint when and where Mapo Tofu was first created.

The Story of Mapo Tofu

In 1862, the owners of the Chen Xingsheng Eating House 陳興盛飯舖, a small mom-and-pop shop, started experimenting with their mouth-watering tofu and pork dish.

Little did the Chen family know, that they would soon make a name for themselves and quickly become one of Chengdu's most popular restaurants.

The "mapo" in Mapo Tofu refers to Mrs. Chen, an elderly woman with bumpy, cratered skin.

  • màh 麻 - rough, bumpy, pockmarked
  • pòh 婆 - elderly woman, grandma

Although an unfortunate nickname, Mrs. Chen became a local legend, known as Chen Mapo.

She and her family eventually embraced the name. Decades later, they officially rebranded their restaurant as Chen Mapo Tofu Restaurant 陳麻婆豆腐.

In 2011, UNESCO declared Chengdu a "city of gastronomy", to be celebrated for its sophisticated culinary greatness.

Among the many incredible flavors and dishes you might find in Sichuan, Mapo Tofu stands among the best.

Mrs. Chen's legacy is undeniable, inspiring generations upon generations of chefs to build upon her recipe.

If you ever find yourself in Chengdu, the Chen Mapo Tofu Restaurant is still open for business, over 150 years later.

In the meantime, you can make your own delicious mapo tofu for yourself at home!

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
4
    Main Ingredients
  • 1 lb tofu (

    any level of firmness is fine

    )
  • 3 oz chicken
  • Chicken Marinade
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • During Cooking
  • 1 tbsp bean sauce (

    Buy on Amazon

    )
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (

    Buy on Amazon

    )
  • 0.50 tsp dark soy sauce (

    Buy on Amazon

    )
  • 2 chili peppers (

    chili sauce also works as a substitute

    )
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 green onion (

    for garnish

    )
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 0.50 tsp salt
  • Texture & Flavor
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water

On Meats

Traditionally, Sichuan dishes include pork, as it was an abundant source of meat.

In this recipe, my dad uses chicken, but you can really use any type of meat - shrimp, beef, pork, chicken, etc.

Or, no meat at all!

Finding Asian Ingredients

Some of these ingredients are hard to find in a typical grocery store.

If you don't live near an Asian market, most of what my dad uses can be found on Amazon:

These links are affiliate links, which means that if you use our links to purchase these ingredients, Amazon pays my family a small amount for the sale - at no extra cost to you. If you use these links, we really appreciate the support!

On Spiciness

My dad typically does not add a ton of spiciness into his dishes.

My family is Cantonese, acclimated to the more earthy, mild flavors of Guangdong.

Sichuan, on the other hand, is well-known for its bold and spicy flavors.

If you want more to add more of a kick to your dish, I would add more chilies than what's prescribed in my dad's recipe.

Cut the chicken (3 oz) by slicing diagonally. Then, gather the clumps of chicken together, and chop the pieces into even smaller pieces. Gather, flip the clump of chicken, and repeat.

Place your newly minced chicken in a bowl, and add cornstarch (1 tbsp), oyster sauce (1 tbsp), and water (2 tbsp).

Using your hands and a bit of strength, mix and massage the chicken around until the marinade is fully absorbed.

Let the marinade sit for about 5 minutes.

Using your tofu (1 lb) of choice (my dad is using soft tofu for this recipe), drain the water from packaging, and chop it into cubes.

Watch my dad demonstrate his simple and efficient method of chopping tofu.

Mince your garlic cloves (2), chili peppers (2), and green onion (1).

On the grand scale of spiciness, my dad's recipe rates more on the mild side. Feel free to use more chili here if you crave the heat.

Alternatively, you can use chili sauce instead of fresh chilies.

In a bowl, mix together cornstarch (1 tbsp) and water (2 tbsp) until you have an even consistency. We'll be using this mix as a thickening agent for the final steps.

Set your stove to its highest setting, and wait a few minutes for your pan or wok to heat up.

Once it's hot enough, add oil (1 tbsp), garlic cloves (2), and chilies (2). Stir the garlic and chilies around for 20 to 30 seconds until you can start to smell the aromas.

Next, add the chicken to the wok. Let it sit for about 20-30 seconds, moving (but not flipping) the chicken around.

Add bean sauce (1 tbsp) to the wok, stirring it around with the chicken for about 1 minute.

Then, add water (1 cup), sugar, salt (0.50 tsp), oyster sauce (1 tbsp), and dark soy sauce (0.50 tsp). Stir around for a few seconds.

As I mentioned before, some of these ingredients are hard to find at a normal grocery store. However, you can buy them on Amazon for the same price if you don't live near an Asian grocery store:

Add the tofu (1 lb) to the wok, gently stir it around, and cover the wok with a lid. Let it sit for about 3 minutes, when the wok starts to boil.

According to my dad, this step is the most important.

Slowly pour the cornstarch mix you made earlier into the wok, gently stirring the wok around as you go. Be careful not to break the tofu in the process.

Tofu inherently has no taste, and the cornstarch acts like a glue to help the tofu trap the flavors. It also acts as a thickening agent, giving the dish a more creamy texture.

Next, add sesame oil (1 tsp). Gently stir the wok around to mix the sesame oil in.

We're done! You're almost ready to eat your delicious creation.

If you're plating the dish, the only caveat is to pour the tofu directly into a bowl or plate WITHOUT using a spatula. This helps keep the tofu intact.

Summary

Mapo Tofu With Chicken (麻婆豆腐鸡)
A spicy Sichuan classic for good reason: it's easy to make, delicious, and healthy!
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 20 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
    Main Ingredients
  • 1 lb tofu (

    any level of firmness is fine

    )
  • 3 oz chicken
  • Chicken Marinade
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • During Cooking
  • 1 tbsp bean sauce (

    Buy on Amazon

    )
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (

    Buy on Amazon

    )
  • 0.50 tsp dark soy sauce (

    Buy on Amazon

    )
  • 2 chili peppers (

    chili sauce also works as a substitute

    )
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 green onion (

    for garnish

    )
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 0.50 tsp salt
  • Texture & Flavor
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
Step 1 - Mince chicken↑ Jump to details

Cut the chicken (3 oz) by slicing diagonally. Then, gather the clumps of chicken together, and chop the pieces into even smaller pieces. Gather, flip the clump of chicken, and repeat.

Step 2 - Marinate chicken↑ Jump to details

Place your newly minced chicken in a bowl, and add cornstarch (1 tbsp), oyster sauce (1 tbsp), and water (2 tbsp). Using your hands and a bit of strength, mix and massage the chicken around until the marinade is fully absorbed. Let the marinade sit for about 5 minutes.

Step 3 - Cut tofu↑ Jump to details

Pour the water out of the tofu package, and chop the tofu (1 lb) into cubes.

Step 4 - Chop garlic, chilies, and green onion↑ Jump to details

Mince garlic cloves (2), chili peppers (2), and green onion (1).

Step 5 - Make cornstarch mix↑ Jump to details

In a bowl, mix together cornstarch (1 tbsp) and water (2 tbsp) until you have an even consistency.

Step 6 - Cook garlic, chilies, and chicken↑ Jump to details

Set your stove to its highest setting, and wait a few minutes for your pan or wok to heat up. Once it's hot enough, add oil (1 tbsp), garlic cloves (2), and chilies (2). Stir the garlic and chilies around for 20 to 30 seconds.

Next, add the chicken to the wok. Let it sit for about 20-30 seconds, moving (but not flipping) the chicken around.

Step 7 - Add flavors↑ Jump to details

Add bean sauce (1 tbsp) to the wok, stirring it around with the chicken for about 1 minute.

Then, add water (1 cup), sugar, salt (0.50 tsp), oyster sauce (1 tbsp), and dark soy sauce (0.50 tsp). Stir around for a few seconds.

Step 8 - Add tofu & bring to boil↑ Jump to details

Add the tofu (1 lb) to the wok, gently stir it around, and cover the wok with a lid. Let it sit for about 3 minutes, when the wok starts to boil.

Step 9 - Add cornstarch, sesame oil↑ Jump to details

Slowly pour the cornstarch mix into the wok, gently stirring the wok around as you go. Be careful not to break the tofu in the process. Next, add sesame oil (1 tsp). Gently stir the wok around to mix the sesame oil in.

Step 10 - Plate the dish↑ Jump to details

We're done! You're almost ready to eat your delicious creation. If you're plating the dish, the only caveat is to pour the tofu directly into a bowl or plate WITHOUT using a spatula. This helps keep the tofu intact.

Step 11 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 12 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

My sister and I have many, many happy memories enjoying this dish growing up (and obliviously bothering my parents' customers as we roamed around their restaurant as kids).

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to eat with us and learn more about the dish, Chinese culture, and take a peek at my dad's impressive garden.

Cheers, and thanks for cooking with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.

Watch on YouTube

About Made With Lau

We started Made With Lau to honor and share the legacy of our wonderful parents, Jenny and Chung Sun Lau.

Our hope is that these posts give you (and our future generations) a glimpse into how great they are!