This Turkey Mapo Tofu is a savoury Chinese Sichuan-style dish of tofu and lean ground turkey simmered in a red fermented spicy bean sauce. Serve it piping hot over a bowl of steamed white rice for a hearty yet simple meal.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Turkey Farmers of Canada. All images and opinions expressed are solely my own.
My favourite way to get something hearty and comforting on the table is my take on this classic Chinese Sichuan dish, Mapo Tofu.
Turkey Mapo Tofu is quick to make in under 30 minutes, which is a win for weeknight dinners.
What is Mapo Tofu?
Mapo tofu is a saucy Chinese dish from the Sichuan province in China.
"Ma po tofu" literally translates to "pockmarked grandma beancurd."
It contains cubed tofu stewed in a red, spicy and savoury sauce made from fermented beans and ground meat.
Today I've used ground turkey.
Traditionally, Mapo tofu is very spicy due to the use of Sichuan peppercorns, which give it a numbing, aromatic heat.
Ingredients in this dish
- ground turkey: is a lean protein that soaks up the flavour from the sauce beautifully; you can use fresh or frozen ground turkey
- tofu: which is also known as bean curd, is the main ingredient in this dish. Tofu comes in various forms ranging from "silken/soft" to "firm." For this dish, I recommend using a medium-firm tofu for best results.
- dou ban jiang: is a red fermented broad bean chili paste. This is the ingredient that gives Mapo tofu its base spiciness. It's a thick, red paste that is spicy, and salty, made of broad beans, soybeans, and spices. You can find dou ban jiang in specialty Asian grocery stores, usually by the chili oil section.
- douchi: are fermented black beans, also known as salted black beans, which are black soybeans fermented with salt. They are commonly used to flavour meat. Douchi is found in packaged form as dry, salted black beans, or as a black bean paste in a jar in your local Asian grocery store. If you can't find douchi, you can omit it.
- onions: diced, adds some overall sweetness to the dish
- cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce and makes it glossy
- water or poultry broth
- granulated sugar: balances the flavours of the salty dou ban jiang paste
- chili oil: adds additional spiciness to the dish, but you can omit if you don't like the heat
- ground Sichuan peppercorn: gives the dish that "ma la" tingly taste; if you don't like spicy, you can omit it.
If you can't find dou ban jiang, you can substitute with a sambal chili sauce instead.
For the fermented black beans (douchi), you can use a black bean garlic paste (usually comes in jars at Asian supermarkets).
How to prepare Turkey Mapo Tofu
Make the red fermented bean sauce by combining the dou ban jiang (red fermented broad bean paste) with sugar and douchi (black bean). Set aside.
Next, make the cornstarch slurry. Set aside.
Heat a large pan or work over high heat.
Add oil and the ground turkey, and sauté for a few minutes.
Next, add in the onions and garlic and continue to sauté to soften.
Add the drained cubed tofu and gently stir the mixture together.
Pour in water and dou ban jiang sauce and stir to coat the tofu and turkey.
Bring to a boil, and add in the cornstarch slurry, which will thicken up the sauce.
Add chili oil and ground Sichuan peppercorn (if you wish), and garnish with chopped green onions.
Is Mapo tofu spicy?
Despite its bright red colour, Mapo tofu can range in spiciness. In Sichuan-style restaurants, Mapo tofu can be spicy due to the addition of Sichuan peppercorns.
If you can't tolerate spice, you can certain omit the dou ban jiang and Sichuan peppercorns.
The Mapo tofu will still be flavourful and savoury.
Does the dish have nuts?
No, Mapo tofu does not contain any nuts.
How do you serve Turkey Mapo Tofu?
Serve the Turkey Mapo Tofu piping hot with steamed rice.
This is one of those dishes where the longer it sits, the better it tastes.
The tofu and ground turkey will have a chance to absorb the flavours from the sauce and make it that much tastier.
How to store leftovers
If you have leftovers, you can refrigerate Mapo Tofu in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
I don't recommend freezing Mapo Tofu as the sauce will not hold up after the freezing and thawing process.
Other Sichuan-style recipes
If you're a fan of spicy Sichuan food, try these recipes:
Quick to prepare in under 30 minutes, Turkey Mapo Tofu is a saucy, meaty dish that is full of umami flavour. Make a pot of steamed white rice to go with it and you've got a wholesome dinner to feed your entire family.
Try out this warm, hearty and comforting Sichuan Chinese dish that will be sure to be a staple in your dinner routine.
Be sure to let me know if you make this recipe -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below.
Turkey Mapo Tofu
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 3 tablespoon red fermented broad bean paste (dou ban jiang)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar or to taste
- 1 tablespoon salted black bean (douchi) optional
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ C water or poultry broth divided
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 C (~150g) lean ground turkey
- 1 large white onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pkg medium firm tofu drained and cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon chili oil (optional, if you like more spice, add more, if not, omit)
- ¼ teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn optional
- 2 tablespoon green onions chopped
- In a small bowl, mix together the red broad bean paste (dou ban jiang), sugar, and salted black bean (douchi). Set aside.
- In another small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and ½ C water or chicken broth. Mix until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set aside.
- Heat up a large wok or pan over high heat. Add in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
- Add in the ground turkey and break it up into small pieces using a spatula. Fry for about 2 minutes.
- Add in the diced onion and fry with the ground turkey until fragrant, about another 3-4 minutes.
- Next, add in the drained tofu to the turkey mixture and stir gently to mix everything together.
- Add in the remaining 1 cup of water/poultry broth, dou ban jiang sauce mixture and stir to coat the ground turkey and tofu.
- Bring it up to a boil and then add in the cornstarch slurry. The sauce will thicken up and coat all of the ground turkey, tofu and onion.
- Add in chili oil and ground Sichuan peppercorn if you wish. When the mapo tofu comes to a simmer, remove from heat and garnish with chopped green onions.
- Serve hot over steamed rice.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.