“What’s Cooking” – Ma Poh Tofu


Ma Poh Tofu, sometimes also known as Grandma Tofu, is originated from Sichuan province in China. The dish is a result of combining tofu and minced meat in a spicy chili bean based sauce. It is oily with bright red suspension and garnish with finely chopped spring onion. There are many variations and even a vegetarian version. It is one of my favourite Szechuan dish. It has all the elements of a great dish; spicy hot and numbing (from the chili and Szechuan peppercorn), fresh, tender and soft (from the tofu), aromatic and pungent (from the fermented black bean and peppercorn) and flaky (from the floating minced).

It is believed that a farmer and his son found shelter at an old woman’s home during a terrible storm. The old woman was a widow with a disfigured face due to acne scaring. She was so pleased with her company that she prepared a special meal from her paltry larder. The dish was so delicious that each time the farmer and son passed through the village, they would stopped for a meal. Soon words got around that visitors came to taste her meal, which is now known as Ma Poh Tofu. In Chinese, “Ma” refers to a person disfigured with pockmarks (acne scaring) and “Poh” refers to an old woman.

In my version of Ma Poh Tofu, I used a jar of Black Bean Chili Paste, Firm Tofu and Minced Pork.



Process 1: Preparation

1. Diced firm tofu into small cubes.

2. Boil a saucepan of water. Gently placed diced tofu into boiled water and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and put aside.

3. Chopped 3 cloves garlic.

4. Chopped 2 spring onion (green section) finely.

5. Chopped a thumb size ginger.

Process 2: Cooking

1. Heat some cooking oil in a hot wok.

2. Toss in garlic and ginger. Stir fry until fragrant.

3. Toss in 500 gm pork minced. Stir fry until pork is half cooked. Add 2 tablespoons black bean chili paste. Continue to stir fry until pork is cooked.

4. Add 1 cup of chicken stock. Turn down the heat and gently simmer.

5. Add diced tofu and continue to simmer until sauce is reduced by half.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste, and some corn starch to thicken the sauce.


Time to plate the dish and garnish with some chopped spring onion.

Enjoy the Meal! 🙂

7 responses to ““What’s Cooking” – Ma Poh Tofu

  1. That looks very delish Victor I suppose rice is the preferred partner? Hey have you tried ‘Earnest Bean’ tofu? Its organic & made (until they move to Melbourne) in Geeveston. This point always makes me smile, Tofu being made in what some people feel is a bit of a redneck town!
    Also I am glad to be able to call masterchefs Poh an ‘Old Woman’ from now on. The minced pork in your dish reminds me of a Chinese dish(dont ask me the province from where it comes from?) that I had once that was served with broad fried rice noodles. It reminded me so much of Spag Bol but with Chinese flavours & then I thought this dish probably influenced the Spag Bol not the other way round.

    • Hey Steve – thanks! Yes, I have heard about them when I was in Franklin, but never knew their brand name. Guess too late now, or do they sell their tofu locally? I can eat the ma poh with either rice or dried noodle.
      Hey, great idea – I should try on spag (east meets west!) next time.

  2. Victor that looks fabulous even though I am luke warm about tofu.
    The floating mince would get me into this dish for sure.

  3. This is comfort food for me, just love this dish:: perfect hangover food too! Thanks for sharing the recipe….The Earnest Bean tofu is delish – very firm though, mightn’t have that silkiness required for this dish.

    Sad to read they’re leaving Tasmania…

  4. Stephen – thanks. You will be surprised. Once you try it, you will definitely want to have another one. It is quite addictive with all the rounded flavours.

    Michelle – always glad to share my recipe. Knowledge is virture and meant to share for the wisdom of all (I can tell someone is probably whispering behind my back – “What a load of rubbish am I saying here”). By the sound of EB tofu – you are right that it may not work, because the dish has to have that silky, soft texture of a fresh tofu.

    Btw, I haven’t try as a ‘hangover’ remedy! I will give it a go next time. 🙂

  5. Looks yummy. I like taufu. When you’re back in Pg, you should try the fish taufu at “Kedai Kopi Heng Kee”. It’s a favourite of us! (60, Lebuh China). I’ll make a post about the place in a few days.

    • Thanks for the tip, JP. So many places in such little time. I wonder how I am going to cramp in all the food in 4 days!

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