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Fancy a quick, warming lunch? Look no further than this delicious ma po tofu dish from Bonnie Chung’s Tofu Tasty cookbook.

Winter food is traditionally stodgy and heavy, leaving you feeling like a lethargic slug, which is no good if you’ve got stuff to do. We reckon this protein-rich tofu recipe is perfect to rustle up when working from home as it’s quick, easy and light.

Tofu is a fantastic source of protein – which will keep you going until dinner – and mushrooms pack a hefty nutritious punch. With fibre, protein, antioxidants and vitamin D (much-needed during these gloomy, light-deprived days), they’re the perfect vegetable to incorporate into your winter diet. Those little fungi are also good for gut health – winner! Packed with spices, this meal will also help sweat out any seasonal sniffles.

Hailing from the spice province of Sichuan, the dish’s name means ‘pock-marked old woman’s tofu’ – a (somewhat questionable) nod to the legendary lady who sold the original dish.

Serve with fluffy, steamed rice for a tasty, plant-based meal that’s ready in less than 30 minutes. It’s the perfect way to kick off Veganuary.

Trying Veganuary? This ma po tofu with button mushrooms is packed with protein.


Serves: 4

4 tbsp vegetable oil

4 spring onions, green parts only, finely chopped

4 tbsp Sichuan chilli bean paste

2 tbsp finely chopped or grated garlic

2 tbsp peeled and finely chopped or grated fresh ginger

½ tsp freshly ground white pepper

100ml/scant ½ cup water

600g firm or soft tofu, drained for 20 minutes and cut into 2.5cm cubes

10 small button mushrooms, kept whole

2 tsp potato flour or corn flour

To serve (all optional)


2 pinches crushed Sichuan peppercorns

Steamed rice and greens 


1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then throw in the spring onions, chilli bean paste and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Stir in the ginger, white pepper and water.

2. Place the tofu carefully into the pan and stir the sauce around it, then reduce the heat and add the mushrooms.

3. In a small bowl, mix the potato flour with 1 tbsp water until smooth, then pour this mixture into the pan while stirring gently, to thicken the sauce around the tofu and mushrooms.

4. Serve immediately scattered with coriander and Sichuan pepper, if you like, with steamed rice and greens.


Traditionally, minced pork is added to this dish, so if you’re not vegan/veggie, try adding 100g minced pork at the same time as the ginger, and cook through before adding the tofu. 

Chopped prawns can also add an element of texture and sweetness instead of the mushrooms, if preferred.

Recipe taken from Tofu Tasty: Imaginative Tofu Recipes For Every Day by Bonnie Chung (£14.99, Pavilion Books), out now. 

Image: Yuki Sugiura

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