Mapo Tofu or, as it is also called, “Pockmarked Old Woman’s Tofu” is one of the most famous dishes of Szechuan cuisine. It is prepared from the traditional set of Chinese products in combination with the sharp and spicy spices, so characteristic of Sichuan province.
The dish is based on tofu, i.e. bean curd It is cut into large pieces and stewed together with minced meat (pork or beef) in a spicy sauce based on Pisyan bean paste. In addition to this pasta, which gives the dish a bright red color and spicy spiciness, the sauce contains garlic, ginger, huadziao (szechuan pepper), soy sauce, fermented soy beans, sugar, corn starch, culinary rice wine and sesame oil. The result is a bright, very fragrant and spicy dish. Spice blend gives it an appetizing flavor, and the tenderness of tofu cheese adds piquancy.
According to legend, this dish appeared during the reign of the Qing Tongzhi dynasty, the ninth emperor of China (1861-1875). At that time, in the north of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, there was a small and very poor hotel, owned by the Chen wife. The husband was engaged in household issues, and the wife was managed in the kitchen. She invented this dish, which was highly appreciated by visitors. The hostess was by then in years, and on her face were pockmarks. The visitors of the tavern, when they recommended the dish to their friends, said: “Pock-marked old woman Chen.” All new visitors came to this dish, which brought a substantial income to old people. In the end, the owners even renamed the hotel “Chen Ma Po Doufu Dian”, or “Inn Tofu Pock-marked Old Woman Chen.”
“The old man’s tofu” is described in one of the most famous collections of recipes of the Son of Chuan cuisine – in the book “Chengdu Review”, published in 1909. Later in the mid-60s, during the period of the cultural revolution and the struggle with the Four Remnants (old habits, traditions, ideas, culture), not only factories and newspapers, but even traditional dishes were renamed. And “Pock-marked old woman’s tofu” was named “Spicy tofu” (in Chinese 豆腐 or Mapa Tofu).