a balanced plate with room for dessert

Mapo Tofu – A Healthier Version

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Mapo tofu is delicious. It might be the soft, silky tofu that melts in your moth. It might be the in-your-face kick of Szechuan peppercorn. But, I think the real reason it’s delicious is because it’s traditionally made with very, very fatty ground pork. I was afraid that when I “trimmed down” this recipe by subbing in lean turkey for fatty pork it would lose its great depth of flavor. After all, I’ve tried to make healthier version of various dishes and ended up with not-so-appetizing results (I’m looking at you, rock-hard muffins).

Fortunately, this healthier version of mapo tofu is far from being unappetizing. In fact, I would say that it’s pretty dang stellar. I challenge you tofu  haters to try this. It just might change your mind about tofu. If you still don’t like it, then I guess you can mash it up and pretend like it’s just a huge bowl of ground turkey.

mapo tofu

Healthier Mapo Tofu
serves 6

1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1.5″ piece of ginger, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
6 green onions, thinly sliced; whites and greens separated
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot chili bean sauce
14 ounce package soft tofu, drained and cut into 1″ cubes
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
steamed rice, for serving

  1. Toast peppercorns in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Allow to cool and then grind in a spice grinder.*
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in canola oil and swirl to coat. Add garlic, ginger, and white parts of the scallion and stir fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add turkey and cook until meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add in chicken broth, soy sauce, and chili sauce, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and add corn starch mixture and stir until the sauce becomes thick and clear. Gently stir in tofu and cook until heated through, about 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in Szechuan peppercorns, to taste. Drizzle with sesame oil.
  5. Serve immediately with steamed rice. Garnish with remaining green onions.


*I don’t own a spice grinder. I tossed the cooled peppercorns into a zip-top bag, shut it, and then rolled and lightly pounded it with a large rolling pin. It worked!


Author: Jenni

Dietitian by day and Midwest food blogger by night. Lover of whiskey, running, and all things food.

One thought on “Mapo Tofu – A Healthier Version

  1. Is it true that tofu is made out of the gelatin scraped out of a cow’s sinus cavity?

    Please confirm/deny this rumor, DSD. Thanks in advance!

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