The Original Mapo Tofu

April 5, 2017


I’ve never had the pleasure of encountering this incredible multi-volume Chinese Food Encyclopedia until today. And after I did, after I’d looked through the whole Sichuan volume page-by-page, I had no option but to walk outside, head a few blocks south, and into the first decent Chinese restaurant I encountered. What did I order when I got there? Mapo tofu and rice, of course. Here’s the dish from Grandma Cheng’s, in 1984: 

Though the whole encyclopedia was printed in Japan, this volume was written entirely by Sichuan writers. Each of the recipes comes from one of the best restaurants inthe province. This is Grandma Cheng’s, the institution credited for popularizing the dish:

And here’s the charming recipe: 

The factory where all of their tofu is made:

And the most astonishing knife skills I’ve seen in some time: 

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1 Comment

  • Allison D B Liebowitz says:

    Ruth – First of all fascinating article and pictures about a most favorite dish. Thanks.

    Second: I wonder when AFAICT Mapo Tofu switched to mostly being made with silk tofu? All the good Mapo Tofu I’ve had has been made with what feels and appears like the smooth silk rather than the coarser/holier version in the pictures.