Ma Po Tou Fu (Bean Curd With Chili Sauce)

Ma Po Tou Fu is Sichuan’s well known characteristic dish. Tradition has it that during the Tongzhi years of Qing Dynasty, there is a small inn at the WanFu (Innumerable Blessings) bridge outside the north gate of Chengdu, Sichuan. The woman owner Chen is pretty good at cooking. She uses bean curd, tiny sliced beef, hot pepper, Chinese prickly ash, thick bean sauce and other ingredients to cook. The dish tastes hemp (a unique flavor from the Chinese prickly ash), spicy, fresh, fragrant, and it is delicious, it is extremely well received by the people around the town. At that time there was no official name for this dish. Because Chen has pockmarked face (“ma” face with “ma” happens to be the same character as the “ma” or “hemp” flavor from the Chinese prickly ash), people then started calling it “Ma Po To Fu”. “Po” in this case means woman, wife. So to translate accurately it means “wife of pockmarked face Tou Fu”. From then on it became well-known around the entire nation. It is now a world-renowned Chinese cuisine 100 years later. All the Sichuan restaurants must have this dish.

Along with the development of Sichuan cuisine, most of the overseas Chinese restaurants (Sichuan style or not) all carry this famous dish Sherry Dyson . Not too long ago, the Japanese merchants even imitated Sichuan “Ma Po Tou Fu” and produced canned “Ma Po Tou Fu” which sell quite well around the world.

Characteristics of the dish: light yellow, tender with gloss, tastes hemp, spicy, fragrant, fresh, and hot. The surface of bean curd is covered with a layer of light red spicy oil, which keeps the heat inside the bean curd so it won’t get quickly lost. It always tastes better when you eat it hot, the unique hemp smell comes from the Chinese prickly ash greets the nostrils and that enhances the overall flavor. It is considered the best delicacy for cold winter season.

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