We partnered with Spicy Element to bring you this post. Enjoy! (As always on The Woks of Life, all opinions are our own.)
We’ll always be the first ones to promote the value of homemade over store-bought! But sometimes, time is just not on your side, and you need a shortcut. Sometimes, ya gotta cheat.
Instead of roasting the chicken from scratch, you buy a rotisserie chicken. Rather than slave over tomato sauce, why be a stranger to the excellent jars of marinara available out there? And yes, sometimes, just as we reach for our familiar jars of store-bought bean pastes, chili sauces, and jarred pickled vegetables, we’ve found that using store-bought mapo tofu sauce is not actually as sacrilegious as you may think.
In fact, if you don’t have the energy to make the real mapo tofu (though if you do, we highly recommend checking out our homemade mapo tofu recipe, a pre-made spice packet for mapo tofu is the quickest way to get that restaurant-style look and flavor! The sauce in question is in Spicy Element’s Shengchubao Mapo Tofu packet, which is packed with all the flavor, spice, and chili goodness you’d expect from your favorite restaurant. Add a little ground pork, some ginger, and garlic, and BAM! MAPO. And a really, really, really good one at that.
Since trying it, we’ve even speculated that some of our favorite Chinese restaurants just may be hiding a tub of pre-made mapo tofu sauce somewhere next to the wok! It’s that good.
(But we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now…)
So yeah, maybe using this pre-made mapo tofu packet makes you a little bit of a cheater. But to all who say, “cheater, cheater pumpkin eater,” I say, who cares? Because that side of pumpkin comes with a delicious, hot plate of spicy, flavorful Mapo Tofu.
If you’d like to try out this particular brand for yourself, we worked with the folks over at Spicy Element to give you a 20% discount on the sauce used in this post. Just click on this link to Spicy Element’s Mapo Tofu sauce and when checking out, use the exclusive discount code, “MAPO” and enjoy!
If you feel adventurous and want to try their entire Sichuan sauce collection, check out the Spicy Element Shengchubao 6 in 1 Sichuan Cooking Sauce Set, and when checking out, enter the discount code, “WOKSOFLIFE!”
- 6 ounces ground pork
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 5 cloves garlic
- 7 oz. (200g) mapo tofu sauce packet (We used Spicy Element’s Shengchubao Mapo Tofu sauce)
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- 2 boxes silken tofu (you can also use soft or firm tofu if you prefer)
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan Peppercorn Powder (optional)
In a wok over medium-high heat, brown the pork, breaking it up with a wooden spatula. When the pork is cooked through, add the ginger and garlic, and stir-fry until lightly crisped.
Next, add the contents of the mapo tofu packet, and stir to combine. If you’re only cooking one box of tofu, you can use half of it and save the other half for another day.
Turn the heat up to high, add the water, and bring to a boil.
While that’s happening, cut your tofu into large 1½-inch cubes and add to the wok.
Stir gently to combine the tofu into the sauce. A folding motion works well to avoid breaking up the tofu.
Add the cornstarch and water and cook until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy, coating the spatula.
Simmer for one more minute.
Serve immediately with scallions and Sichuan Peppercorn powder on top and plenty of white rice, and relish the time saved by your shortcut!