Chefs' Recipes

Louis Tikaram's vegan ma po tofu

The Stanley chef's meat-free take on the Sichuanese classic.

By Louis Tikaram
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 25 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Louis Tikaram's Buddhist ma po tofu
"If you have a Chinese grandmother, you will know this warming, soulful dish," says Louis Tikaram. "It's usually cooked with pork mince, but I've substituted zucchini to give it a great texture and flavour. It's perfect for a snack or as part of a main meal."


  • 3 tsp canola oil
  • 15 gm ginger (about 3cm), finely grated with a Microplane
  • 15 gm garlic, finely grated with a Microplane
  • 1¼ tbsp chilli bean paste (see note)
  • 3 tsp gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tsp mushroom oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 300 gm silken tofu, removed from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking
  • ½ zucchini, finely diced
  • Coriander, finely julienned spring onion and finely sliced birdseye chillies, to serve


  • 1
    Heat oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add ginger and garlic and stir occasionally until golden and starting to stick to the saucepan (8-10 minutes).
  • 2
    Add chilli bean paste and simmer, scraping pan, until mixture is aromatic (2-3 minutes).
  • 3
    Add soy and mushroom oyster sauce, stir, then add 180ml water, continuing to scrape base of the saucepan to release all the crunchy pieces. Increase heat to medium, then simmer to allow flavours to develop and liquid to reduce slightly (2-3 minutes).
  • 4
    Whisk cornflour and 1 tbsp cold water in a bowl until combined. Whisk into sauce mixture until thickened (1 minute). Add tofu and zucchini, gently stir to break up slightly, then cover and cook until warmed through (5-6 minutes).
  • 5
    Serve in a large bowl with coriander, spring onion and chilli scattered on top.


Chilli bean paste (doubanjiang) is available from Asian supermarkets.