Mapo tofummus = soft “hummus” made of tofu + numbingly hot “mapo” sauce. The combination is as delicious in dip form as it is in the traditional Sichuan dish mapo tofu! Mapo tofu happens to be one of my all time favorite Chinese dishes, so when I saw Mandy Lee from Lady and Pups cook mapo tofummus, I knew I’d be making it asap.
Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed! Mapo tofummus is my new favorite dip and I can’t get enough of it! If you’re into Sichuan cuisine, I have a feeling that neither will you…
mapo tofummus by Mandy Lee
Mandy’s mapo tofummus is an addictive concoction of numbingly hot meat sauce on a soft and subtle bed of pureed tofu. The combination is perfect slathered on a piece of fluffy bread! Either part of the dish wouldn’t be good on their own however. The tofu dip is relatively bland, and the “mapo” sauce extremely salty and spicy. Brought together however, the two are in perfect harmony!
I have cooked the original recipe exactly like Mandy, and it’s incredibly delicious. After a while I have however started to adjust the recipe more and more towards my personal preference and style of cooking. I’ve made it more “me”, so to say. This is of no disrespect towards Mandy. I love her recipes and her style of cooking is right up my alley! But, making adjustments to recipes is something I think everyone needs to do. Make the food “yours”, since you’re cooking it for yourself after all! I hope that’s what you’ll do with my recipes too. I make them for me, then you make them for you!
Mapo tofummus: my way
I’ve done my best to stay withing the original flavor profile, and to do Mandy’s recipe justice! There are however some big, some not so big changes I’ve started to make:
- I add more sauce on top of tofummus than Mandy does. The sauce is just TOO GOOD to not add a bit more… The bread I like to dip into this can take the extra sauce. If I’d be dipping with something less substantial, I might not add quite as much as I currently do though?
- I use half firm tofu, half silken tofu. I have a feeling that the firm tofu available in Finnish supermarkets is maybe a bit different to the kind Mandy uses. If I use firm tofu only, the tofummus comes out extremely thick, not at all what hers looks like. Mixed with silken tofu the result is more silky soft, and visually more similar to what Mandy has on her plate.
- I’ve started to make this recipe with vegan minced protein instead of meat. I’m not vegan, but I do love to cook mostly vegan and vegetarian food! Meat is only for very special occasions in this household … And since we eat this quite often, I prefer to make it vegan. The texture of plant based protein “minces” is different from meat (as is obviously the taste), but I think the vegan version is absolutely delicious. Eating more plants is good for the planet, so making this vegan is a no brainer for me!
- I’ve re-organized some of the cooking steps to better suit my style and logic of cooking. Having cooked the recipe exactly like Mandy instructs side by side with “my style”, I haven’t noticed a huge difference in taste or texture 🙂
More more more!
“My” mapo tofummus is obviosly different from Mandy’s original recipe, but it’s still very very delicious and similar enough in taste. The mapo sauce is in fact SO GOOD that I quickly realized it’s best to double of triple the amount! Once you take on the project of making it, you might as well make a lot. And it would feel weird to me to use up only a part of a package of, say, vegan mince. So, I always cook up sauce from the whole amount of the protein I use.
Besides, once you have this sauce in the fridge, you can whip up a quick meal in minutes! Just heat up the sauce while boiling some noodles and mix together. Throw in some steamed/sauteed veggies, maybe a dollop of peanut butter and ta da, tasty bowl of noodles is ready! I sometimes add in some heated plant based milk (almond/soy/cashew) and the result starts to taste like a cousin of tantanmen ramen ♥ I think the mapo sauce also works wonderfully as the protein in dan dan noodles!
Doubanjiang, gochugaru, douchi, Chinkiang, Shaoxing…
Mandy’s recipe includes a lot of ingredients that are more or less difficult to find in Finland (especially outside of Helsinki). That’s why I’ve included here my suggestions for substitutions, based on what is easier to get a hold of here. If you live in a country where ingredients for Mandy’s original recipe are easy to find, I highly recommend keeping things just as they are! If you love this dip, these ingredients will not start gathering dust on your shelves, I promise.
- Doubanjiang (tobanjiang) is a chunky Chinese chili paste made from fermented soy beans and broad beans + chili, of course. The taste is funky, hot and sour! I would NOT replace this ingredient with anything. But if you simply can’t find doubanjiang, you can try using Korean gochujang instead. (Gochujang is readily available in Finnish supermarkets these days so that’s why I’m suggesting it as a substitute.) The flavor, texture or color of the sauce won’t obviously be the same with gochujang, but the result is still very delicious! I would not name the recipe “mapo tofummus” at this point though, since gochujang has nothing to to with mapo tofu. “Tofu dip with spicy sauce”, perhaps?
- Sichuan peppercorns have a unique tingly cooling heat and you’re guaranteed to remember the sensation once you’ve experienced it! There is NO way of substituting Sichuan peppercorns, so just go find them! The aroma is best when you dry toast and grind the peppercorns every time you need them, but I admit to doing it in batches every couple of weeks… Stored in an air tight container the pre toasted and ground peppercorns make the process of cooking just a tiiiiiiiny bit faster.
- Korean gochugaru chiliflakes are bright red, with a mild to hot heat. They have a sligthly fruity and smoky flavor (due to being sun dried) and I use them as my basic chili flake in all kinds of dishes. Gochugaru obviously brings heat to the dish, but also color. If you can’t find gochugaru, I think you can use any chili flake you have. Just make sure to adjust the amount to the heat level of your chili! In my opinion the middle eastern Pul Biber / Aleppo pepper is quite similar to gochugaru. It has a similar color, heat and that lovely hint of smoke! I always have Pul Biber in the cupboard!
- Douchi are Chinese salted and fermented black soy beans. They have a unique, funky, complex and very salty flavor that is hard to substitute. Mandy suggests that you can use dark miso paste as a substitute, and I think it works really well! I am yet to try subbing douchi with chungjang sauce (fermented black bean sauce), I think it might also be a good alternative.
- Chinese Shaoxing wine is a slightly sweet, nutty rice wine with notes of dried fruits. The flavor profile is very similar to semi dry sherry in my opinion, so I often swap Shaoxing for Amontillado sherry. And vice versa!
- Chinese black Chinkiang vinegar has a wonderfully complex, malty and fruity aroma. Chinese black rice vinegar is less sour than many other vinegars, so if you want to replace it with regular rice vinegar, use a little less. You could also mix 1 part rice vinegar to 1 part balsamic vinegar.
- Mushroom powder will add a boost of umami to the sauce! I usually have some kind of mushroom powder in my cupboard. I’ve used oyster mushroom powder in this recipe, as well as blitzed up dried funnel chantarelles (many Finns have these mushrooms dried in their cupboards) or even ceps! If you can’t find any type of mushroom powder, or are allergic to mushrooms, I think you can leave it out without it making a hugely obvious change in the taste.
Mapo tofummus aka mapo tofu dip
- Immersion blender
- 200 g silken tofu
- 200 g firm tofu
- 4-6 cloves of garlic (or garlic confit)
- ¾ dl canola oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp salt (if you're not making the dish vegan, you can use also fish sauce to add salinity!)
- 200 g plantbased minced protein (or organic minced pork, if not making this vegan)
- 6 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp toasted and ground sichuan peppercorns
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp doubangiang (OR 1 tbsp gochujang)
- 1 tsp gochugaru (OR 1 tsp Pul Biber / Aleppo pepper)
- 4-5 cm piece of fresh ginger
- 1-1½ tsp douchi (OR 1-1½ tbsp dark miso paste)
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp dried mushroom powder
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 4 tbsp Shaoxing wine (OR medium dry sherry)
- 1 dl veggie stock (OR chicken stock, if not making this vegan)
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1¼ tbsp Chinkiang vinegar (OR ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar + ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar)
- 3 tsp apricot jam / agave syrup (OR runny honey if not making this vegan)
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 loaf of bread (for example ciabatta)
- 1 finely slices spring onion
- 1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Toast the sichuan peppercorns on a dry pan for a few minutes, until fragrant. Grind to a fine powder with mortar and pestle. If you're serving the dip with toasted sesame seeds, toast them on the same dry pan, then take aside and allow to cool.
- Peel and grate the ginger. Peel and grate the garlic meant for the mapo sauce, peel and slice the garlic meant for tofummus. Finely mince the douchi with a knife. Mix the corn starch with the veggie (or chicken) stock.
- Drain the tofu, break into smaller pieces and put into a bowl.
- Heat up the oil and fry the sliced garlic until soft and slightly golden. Pour the garlic and the oil on top of the tofu. Season with toasted sesame oil and salt, blend to a soft mixture with an immersion blender. Cover and allow the flavor to develop while you make the mapo sauce. Note: the tofummus is relatively bland by itself, but the sauce packs a punch!
- Heat up oil in a frying pan and brown the protein you're using. Try to break it a part to small crumbs while you fry it! Lower the temperature and add in grated garlic and ginger, doubangian (or gochujang), chili flakes, sichuan peppercorns, ground cumin and white pepper.
- Keep frying until the garlic is cooked and the mixture is very fragrant. Add in the chopped up douchi (or miso paste) and the mushroom powder. Mix well.
- Add in the Shaoxing wine (or sherry). Cook while stirring, until the liquid has almost fully evaporated/soaked into the the protein. Stir the stock and starch mixture and pour in to the pan. Cook for a few minutes while stirring, or until the sauce is slightly thickened and glossy.
- Add in the toasted sesame oil, the apricot jam / agave syrup (or honey) and the Chinkiang vinegar. Mix well, taste and adjust the taste if necessary.
- Spoon the tofummus on to a large plate. Make a small indentation in the middle and spoon the mapo sauce on top. Garnish with finely sliced scallion greens and/or toasted sesame seeds. Serve with bread whilst still warm!
Ps. Mandy Lee cooks Mapo Tofummus also in YouTube! I absolutely love her cooking videos, which are luckily plenty over on the Food52-channel.