Ma Po Tofu is a quintessential Sichuan dish that has captivated palates around the globe, gaining a notable following in diverse culinary landscapes, including Paris. Originating from the Sichuan province of China, Ma Po Tofu is celebrated for its distinctive spicy and numbing flavors, a hallmark of Sichuan cuisine. The dish is traditionally composed of silken tofu set in a vibrant red, spicy sauce, enriched with minced meat, typically pork or beef, and seasoned with fermented black beans, chili paste, and Sichuan peppercorns, which impart the signature numbing sensation.

The history of Ma Po Tofu dates back to the Qing Dynasty, when it was first created by a pockmarked (Ma) old woman (Po) who operated a small restaurant. Her unique tofu recipe quickly gained popularity, and the dish was named after her. Over time, Ma Po Tofu transcended its humble origins, evolving into a beloved staple of Chinese cuisine and spreading to various parts of the world.

In Paris, the multicultural culinary scene has embraced Ma Po Tofu with enthusiasm, reflecting the city’s openness to diverse gastronomic experiences. Parisian restaurants have adapted this traditional dish to cater to local tastes while maintaining its authentic essence. The unique ingredients, such as Sichuan peppercorns and doubanjiang (fermented bean paste), are crucial to recreating the genuine flavors of Ma Po Tofu. These components not only define the dish’s taste profile but also underscore its cultural significance, offering a glimpse into the vibrant culinary heritage of Sichuan province.

Ma Po Tofu’s journey from a small Sichuan eatery to global acclaim highlights the universal appeal of its bold flavors and rich history. As it continues to enchant food enthusiasts in Paris and beyond, this iconic dish stands as a testament to the enduring legacy and adaptability of traditional Chinese cuisine.

The Popularity of Ma Po Tofu in Paris

Ma Po Tofu, a classic dish from Sichuan cuisine, has seen a remarkable rise in popularity in Paris. This savory and spicy tofu delight has captivated the taste buds of Parisians, contributing to the broader embrace of Chinese cuisine in the city. Over the past decade, Paris has become a melting pot of various international flavors, and Chinese food has played a significant role in this culinary evolution.

The burgeoning interest in Ma Po Tofu can be attributed to the increasing number of Chinese restaurants and eateries cropping up across Paris. These establishments range from upscale dining venues to cozy, family-run bistros, each offering their unique take on the dish. The authentic flavors of Ma Po Tofu – characterized by its numbing spiciness from Sichuan peppercorns and the rich, umami depth of fermented black beans – have resonated with locals, making it a staple on many menus.

Local chefs have also played a pivotal role in popularizing Ma Po Tofu by creatively adapting the dish to suit Parisian tastes. For instance, some chefs have toned down the spiciness to make it more palatable to a broader audience, while others have experimented with locally sourced ingredients. One notable example is Chef Olivier Le Coze, who has integrated French culinary techniques with traditional Ma Po Tofu elements, resulting in a fusion that highlights the best of both worlds. His version, which includes a hint of French wine and a delicate balance of flavors, has garnered rave reviews.

The influence of Chinese cuisine extends beyond restaurants, as Ma Po Tofu has also found its way into Parisian home kitchens. Cooking classes and workshops dedicated to Chinese dishes have become increasingly popular, further embedding this beloved tofu dish into Parisian food culture. As a result, Ma Po Tofu is not just a passing trend but a testament to the enduring appeal of Chinese culinary artistry in the heart of Paris.

Top Restaurants to Savor Ma Po Tofu in Paris

Paris, renowned for its culinary diversity, offers several exceptional venues where you can relish authentic Ma Po Tofu. Each establishment provides a unique dining experience, showcasing this Sichuan delicacy in its own distinctive way.

Chez Ly

Located in the 8th arrondissement, Chez Ly is celebrated for its elegant ambiance and refined Chinese cuisine. The Ma Po Tofu here is a harmonious blend of silky tofu and spicy bean paste, perfectly balanced to suit both traditionalists and those new to Sichuan flavors. Prices are mid-range, making it a popular choice for both casual diners and connoisseurs. Chez Ly consistently receives high praise from food critics and patrons alike, with an average rating of 4.5 stars.

Le Grand Bol

Le Grand Bol in the 13th arrondissement offers a more casual and budget-friendly setting without compromising on the authenticity of its dishes. The Ma Po Tofu at Le Grand Bol is renowned for its robust flavors, characterized by a generous use of Sichuan peppercorns and chili oil. The restaurant boasts a cozy, unpretentious atmosphere that invites diners to enjoy hearty portions at reasonable prices. Customers and critics frequently commend its flavorful dishes, with ratings often hovering around 4 stars.

Shang Palace

For those seeking a luxurious dining experience, Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Hotel in the 16th arrondissement is unparalleled. This Michelin-starred restaurant elevates Ma Po Tofu to an art form, presenting it with the finest ingredients and meticulous attention to detail. The opulent decor and impeccable service complement the exquisite cuisine, making it a top choice for special occasions. Given its high-end nature, prices are on the steeper side, but the experience is deemed well worth it by critics and diners, reflected in its consistent 5-star ratings.

Les Saveurs du Sichuan

Situated in the 5th arrondissement, Les Saveurs du Sichuan is a haven for spice enthusiasts. The Ma Po Tofu here is unapologetically fiery, adhering to authentic Sichuan culinary traditions. The vibrant, lively atmosphere of the restaurant mirrors the bold flavors of its dishes. With moderate pricing, it attracts a diverse crowd, from students to seasoned food lovers. Reviews highlight the restaurant’s commitment to authenticity and flavor, earning it a solid 4-star rating.

These top restaurants in Paris offer a variety of settings and price points, ensuring that lovers of Ma Po Tofu can find a perfect spot to enjoy this iconic dish. Whether you seek an elegant dining experience or a casual meal, Paris has something to satisfy every palate.

Health Benefits of Ma Po Tofu

Ma Po Tofu, a celebrated Sichuan dish, offers a multitude of health benefits due to its nutrient-dense ingredients. Central to the dish is tofu, a powerhouse of nutrition. Tofu is rich in high-quality protein, making it an excellent option for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. It is also a good source of essential amino acids, iron, calcium, and magnesium, contributing to overall health and well-being. Tofu’s low-calorie content also makes it a favorable choice for weight management.

Another key ingredient in Ma Po Tofu is Sichuan peppercorns. Known for their unique numbing sensation, these peppercorns are not just a flavor enhancer but also offer various health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants, which help combat free radicals in the body, reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, Sichuan peppercorns have anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in reducing inflammation and pain.

Fermented black beans, another integral component of the dish, provide a rich source of protein and fiber. They contain essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, magnesium, and iron. The fermentation process also introduces beneficial probiotics, which support gut health and improve digestion. Moreover, fermented black beans have been linked to reduced cholesterol levels and improved heart health.

Ma Po Tofu is also versatile in fitting various dietary needs. It is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. The dish can be easily adapted to meet vegan requirements by ensuring that no animal-derived ingredients are used in its preparation. This adaptability makes Ma Po Tofu a nutritious and inclusive option for diverse dietary preferences.

Overall, Ma Po Tofu is not just a delectable dish but also a nutritional boon. Its core ingredients—tofu, Sichuan peppercorns, and fermented black beans—each bring their own set of health benefits, making it a well-rounded addition to a balanced diet.

DIY Ma Po Tofu: Essential Ingredients

Creating an authentic Ma Po Tofu at home requires a careful selection of ingredients that bring out the dish’s signature flavors and textures. Let’s delve into the essential components needed to craft this Sichuan delicacy.

First and foremost, tofu is the star of Ma Po Tofu. Silken or soft tofu is typically preferred for its delicate texture that absorbs the spicy sauce beautifully. However, for those who favor a firmer bite, medium-firm tofu can also be used. The tofu should be cut into uniform cubes to ensure even cooking.

Sichuan peppercorns are indispensable to Ma Po Tofu, imparting the dish’s characteristic numbing and tingling sensation. These reddish-brown peppercorns have a unique citrusy aroma and can be found in specialty Asian markets or online stores in Paris.

Doubanjiang, or fermented broad bean paste, is another crucial ingredient. This spicy, salty paste forms the flavor base of the dish. Look for high-quality doubanjiang, which often contains a higher percentage of fermented beans and chilies, ensuring an authentic taste. Specialty Asian markets like Tang Frères or Paris Store are excellent places to find premium doubanjiang.

Garlic and ginger are also fundamental, providing a fragrant and zesty backdrop to the bold flavors of the dish. These should be finely minced to blend seamlessly into the sauce.

Ground pork is traditionally used in Ma Po Tofu to add richness and depth. For a vegetarian version, minced mushrooms or plant-based meat alternatives can be substituted without compromising flavor.

Last but not least, soy sauce, chicken or vegetable broth, and cornstarch slurry are essential for the sauce. Soy sauce adds umami, while the broth provides a savory base. The cornstarch slurry thickens the sauce, allowing it to cling to the tofu and pork.

In Paris, these ingredients can be sourced from various specialty Asian markets such as Tang Frères, Paris Store, and K-Mart. For those who prefer online shopping, websites like Asia Market and Amazon offer a wide range of Asian culinary products delivered right to your doorstep. With these ingredients on hand, you’re well-equipped to create a delicious and authentic Ma Po Tofu at home.

Step-by-Step DIY Ma Po Tofu Recipe

Ma Po Tofu, a beloved Sichuan dish, can be recreated at home with a few essential ingredients and techniques. This recipe aims to guide you through the process, ensuring you achieve an authentic taste while offering variations to suit different dietary preferences and spice levels.


  • 400g firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 200g ground pork (or ground beef for variation)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, ground
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons doubanjiang (fermented broad bean paste)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste


Step 1: Prepare the Tofu

Blanch the tofu cubes in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. This helps to firm up the tofu and removes any potential off-flavors. Drain and set aside.

Step 2: Cook the Meat

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the ground pork and cook until browned, breaking it apart with a spatula. Remove the meat from the skillet and set aside.

Step 3: Sauté Aromatics

In the same skillet, add ground Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Step 4: Add Doubanjiang and Broth

Stir in the doubanjiang and cook for another minute. Add the soy sauce and chicken broth, bringing the mixture to a simmer.

Step 5: Combine Tofu and Meat

Gently add the tofu cubes and browned meat back into the skillet. Stir carefully to avoid breaking the tofu. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Step 6: Thicken the Sauce

Slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt if necessary.

Step 7: Garnish and Serve

Sprinkle with finely chopped green onions before serving. Enjoy your homemade Ma Po Tofu with steamed rice.


Spice Level: Adjust the amount of doubanjiang and Sichuan peppercorns to control the heat. For a milder version, reduce these ingredients by half.

Dietary Preferences: Substitute ground pork with ground turkey or omit meat entirely for a vegetarian version. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to keep it vegetarian or vegan.

With these steps and variations, you can enjoy an authentic Ma Po Tofu experience right at home, tailored to your taste and dietary needs.

Pairing Ma Po Tofu with Drinks

Ma Po Tofu, with its rich, spicy, and complex flavors, presents an exciting challenge for drink pairings. Selecting the right beverage can enhance your dining experience, balancing the dish’s heat and complementing its unique taste profile.

Traditional Chinese teas are a popular choice for pairing with Ma Po Tofu. Jasmine tea, with its delicate floral notes, provides a refreshing contrast to the dish’s bold flavors. Similarly, oolong tea offers a semi-oxidized profile that harmonizes well with the spiciness of Ma Po Tofu. For those seeking a more robust tea option, Pu-erh tea brings deep, earthy undertones that can stand up to the intensity of the dish.

Wine enthusiasts will find that certain varieties can elevate Ma Po Tofu’s culinary experience. A Riesling, with its natural sweetness and acidity, can balance the heat and provide a pleasant counterpoint to the dish’s savory elements. Alternatively, a light, fruity Pinot Noir offers enough structure to complement the tofu without overwhelming its flavors. For those who prefer white wine, a Gewürztraminer, known for its spice and floral notes, pairs exceptionally well.

Beer aficionados aren’t left out either. A crisp, refreshing lager can cleanse the palate between bites, while a hoppy IPA can match the dish’s boldness and enhance its complex flavors. For a more adventurous pairing, consider a Belgian-style wheat beer, which brings a hint of citrus and spice that complements Ma Po Tofu beautifully.

Non-alcoholic options are equally diverse and satisfying. Sparkling water with a twist of lime or lemon can offer a refreshing palate cleanser. A cold glass of soy milk provides a traditional and soothing contrast to the dish’s heat, while a light, fruity soda can add a touch of sweetness to balance the spiciness.

Ultimately, the best beverage pairing for Ma Po Tofu is one that suits your personal taste and enhances your enjoyment of this iconic dish. Whether you prefer tea, wine, beer, or non-alcoholic drinks, there’s a perfect match out there to elevate your Ma Po Tofu experience.


Ma Po Tofu

Ma Po Tofu


300g tofu

60 g ground beef


tbsp sauce with salty soy beans

tbsp firmness soy

chili powder

tbsp chicken broth


tbsp liquid corn starch

pinch powder


chicken bouillon glass (or water)




Cut the tofu into small pieces, put the pieces in boiling water a little salty
for a moment, then remove and drain.


Pour the sunflower oil in the pan, heat up a bit. Pour in ground beef and sauté
over low heat until it is white. Putting nearby.


Prepare another clean pan, pour sunflower oil, heat until half cooked, add the
sauce salty soy beans, soy firmness and chilli powder and cook gently until oil
turns red.


Place the tofu in the pan to cook by reversing.


Pour the chicken broth (or water), when it boils, add beef, chicken and sugar.


Turn to low heat, pour liquid starch corn when the broth becomes thick, mix
gently. Sprinkle the powder and chopped chives. Make fried uniformly and enjoy this Chinese food 
Ma Po Tofu.

Chinese food tofu for your natural health and cures:

1. To be considered the god of menopause tofu consumption can effectively prevent the risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

2.Reduce the risk of breast cancer: the soybean is used to make tofu contains soy isoflavone, which can control the reaction of the breast to estrogen. Thanks to the high consumption of soy in Japan, the concentration of isoflavones in the urine of Japanese women is 100 to 1000 times higher than in women of the United States and the Netherlands, it also contributes to the rate lower breast cancer in Japan compared to Europe and the United States. In addition, consumption of tofu can effectively prevent leukemia frequency, colon cancer, lung cancer, and stomach cancer.

3. Be milk substitute: the nutritional value of milk and tofu is similar, it becomes the best alternative for those who can not drink milk because of lactose intolerance, and those who do not eat poultry meat in the fight against chronic diseases

4. The anti-vascular effects: soya contains saponin, which can eliminate free radicals from the body, and with its remarkable anticancer activity, saponin contributes to the inhibition of tumor cell growth to inhibition of platelet aggregation, and inhibition of vascular thrombosis.

5. Prevent cardiovascular disease: in addition to the effects of toning brain tofu consumption may also inhibit cholesterol absorption. Soy protein significantly reduced plasma cholesterol, triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein, which can not only prevent colon cancer, but also contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.

6. Tone health, cool the heat and help maintain healthy: Tofu helps toning health, heat and cooling to maintain good health, regular consumption of tofu can help tone the heater means, enhance energy, cool the heat, moisten dryness, promote the secretion of saliva, to calm the thirst and to cleanse the intestines and stomach. It is more appropriate for those who want to spare the healthy after suffering heat physics, thirst, lazy stomach and heat illness. Modern medicine has confirmed that in addition to the effects of the increase in nutrition, helps digestion and promote appetite, tofu consumption can also promote the growth and development of teeth and skeletal increase the iron concentration in the hematopoietic function.


Ma Po Tofu Source:


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