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Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu: Chinese Braised Mushroom & Tofu

By Muyuan Wang, Dietetic Intern

This recipe is inspired by the classic Sichuan dish called Ma Po Tofu, which originated from the Sichuan province of China. Traditionally, this dish is prepared with soft tofu and ground pork or beef, and seasoned with a lot of heat from dried chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns. However, dishes with a lot of dried chili peppers may not be easy to digest for some people. Therefore, this recipe adds mushroom and garlic to strengthen the flavor. This recipe omits the ground beef/pork to make this recipe more plant focused. The recipe is usually served as a main dish for either lunch or dinner accompanied by rice

Ingredients Highlights

Mushroom: Mushrooms contain Selenium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B6 that could support a healthy immune system and some research suggests mushroom intake may lower the risk of certain cancers [iii]. Recent reports also indicate that edible mushroom extracts exhibit favorable therapeutic and health-promoting benefits, particularly in relation to diseases associated with inflammation [i].

Tofu: Tofu is made from soybean curds, and it is a food that is naturally low in calories and gluten-free. Tofu is free from cholesterol and is an abundant source of essential minerals such as iron and calcium. Tofu contains isoflavones such as phytoestrogens, and it may help protect against some cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis [ii].

Recipe makes 4 servings, 1 cup each:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, slice up
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 big white mushroom , chopped
  • 1 ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 16oz package soft to firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoons cornstarch


  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. 
  2. Add slice garlic and ginger and cook and stirring until you can smell the fragrance
  3. Add mushrooms to cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are getting soft and liquid come out
  4. Add chicken broth, soy sauce, and tofu
  5. Stirring occasionally, turn heat to medium-low, put the cover on the pot
  6. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Mixed the cornstarch with water, and add to pan after 10 minutes simmer.
  8. Turn the heat to high, stirring occasionally.
  9. When the it becomes thick and sticky, it will be ready for serving


  • To make the recipe completely vegetarian, use mushroom or vegetable broth in place of chicken broth
  • If you want to add more protein into this dish, you can add ground beef or turkey after step 2.
  • You may add additional vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, bok choy, or others.


  1. Muszyńska, B., Grzywacz-Kisielewska, A., Kała, K., & Gdula-Argasińska, J. (2018). Anti-inflammatory properties of edible mushrooms: A review. Food chemistry, 243, 373–381. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.09.149
  2. Olsen, N. (2017, September 27). Tofu: Health benefits, uses, and possible risks. Medical News Today. Retrieved April 21, 2023, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278340   
  3. 7 health benefits of mushrooms. UCLA health. (2022, January 24). Retrieved April 21, 2023, from https://www.uclahealth.org/news/7-health-benefits-of-mushrooms
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