Mapo doufu or mapo tofu is a popular Sichuanese dish which is made out of tofu and minced pork in a sauce flavoured by Sichuanese peppercorns. This dish may look so subtle in taste because of the soft tofu but don’t be deceived by its looks as this dish gives you a tingling and numbing sensation on tongue and lips, thanks to those peppercorns that plays with your nerves. Having said that don’t be afraid as it is not very hot, I can say it’s just mildly hot and the sensation that the peppercorns give is similar to quickly drinking a cold freshly opened can of soda.
The word “Ma” came from the word “mazi” which means a person with facial pockmarks while “Po” means “old woman”, so combining both means pockmarked faced old woman. It got its weird name because of an old legend about an old pockmarked woman who used to sell this spicy hot dish. She was then relocated to the outskirts of Chengdu due to her condition but due to luck and fate her place became a popular trading route which led her to start selling this Tofu dish to travellers using the route. Initially it was the poor Farmers who became her customers as accommodation in the main city is a bit expensive leading them to stay in the outskirts near the said trading route. The dish then proved to be worth, a lot of them started enjoying it and talk about it thus it became popular. Since then restaurants start popping up selling the same dish, it started to appear in different provinces of China and in countries like Korea, Japan and Taiwan. But as it evolved in different regions so its taste, that’s why each version have adapted to the local ingredients and preferences.