Szechuan peppercorns and chillies give this recipe a warm, lingering heat. Rich with soy and sherry, it is a wonderful sauce. It is amazing! This is a gluten-free and vegan version of a classic dish.

Ma Po Tofu [Vegan, Gluten-Free]


Cooking Time




  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 3 dried red chillies (to taste/ chilli heat)
  • 1 tablespoon fermented black beans finely chopped
  • 1 ounce ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon mild, smokey, chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 100 grams sauerkraut (plain – without caraway or other spices)
  • 2 cups firm tofu – drained and dried with kitchen paper
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon tamari or gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 fresh red chilli (to taste/ chilli heat)


  1. Grind the Szechuan pepper corns and dried chillies in a pestle and mortar. Add three tablespoons oil to the pan and on a low(ish) heat gently heat the mixture to infuse the oil for a few minutes – do not allow to brown.
  2. Roughly chop the fermented black beans and grate or finely chop the ginger (no need to peel, just take off the worst bits).
  3. Increase the heat and add the asafoetida, chilli powder, black beans and ginger to the pan, fry for a minute or two – keep the ingredients moving. Add the sauerkraut followed by the sherry, tamari, rice wine vinegar. Keep moving for 30 seconds. Add the boiling water and stir well.
  4. Place the cornflour in a cup and add a few tablespoon of water to slake it – stir well to make sure there are no lumps and add to the pan and stir well.
  5. Cut the tofu in to small cubes and add to the pan. Ensure the tofu is covered by the sauce and cook for approximately 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid is reduced by around 25%.
  6. Finely slice the fresh red chilli and stir in and decorate the dish. Serve with plain rice.

    Discover more recipes with these ingredients

  • Tofu