I urge you to try this classic Chinese recipe. You can adjust the spiciness to your own taste by varying the amount of cayenne.
This recipe is excellent, and I make it often :-) For those who claim not to like tofu, I think this dish gives tofu to stand on its own, not just be a substitute for meat. If you're a vegtarian, I'd advise using slightly more tofu, adding more Asian vegetables, and scaling up the amount of sauce by 50%. You also might want to add 1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp of sesame oil, to replace the flavor the pork gives it. Here are some other comments: 1. As written, this recipe is quite spicy. For the fainter of heart, I would recommend starting with 1/2 tsp of cayenne. Less if you're really spice-phobic. 2. To make the texture more interesting, I put the tofu cubes on parchment on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler (second rack down) for about 10-15 minutes, so the outside gets crispy. You could also fry it for a similar effect, but the broiling approach is lower fat. 3. I always put in a teaspoon of sesame oil into the black bean mixture. It only adds 5g of fat total to the dish and rounds out the flavor a bit more. 4. I don't think the 1 Tbsp of corn starch is enough to thicken the gravy sufficiently. I usually end up using 1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp. 5. For more different textures, adding some bamboo shoots or water chestnuts is a tasty alteration. If you add a lot more stuff, though, make sure you scale up the black bean sauce to coat everything sufficiently. - 26 Nov 2002 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)
There is nothing wrong with this recipe, but be forewarned: It is NOT a recipe for Ma Po Tofu. First of all, Ma Po Tofu's main flavor is the Sichuan peppercorn. Seriously, this is the main flavor of the dish... yet it doesn't appear in the list of ingredients. It's like someone who doesn't know how to cook chinese food ordered it once, and tried to copy it without having any knowledge of Sichuan cuisine. Many of the other ingredients do correspond to the ingredients of the original dish, but dry sherry, green peas and cayenne pepper would never appear in the restaurant version. Thus, I have provided a 3* review not because the dish is particularly bad, but because it might mislead someone into thinking that the dish they were making would turn out to taste like Ma Po Tofu -- it will not, and you will be disappointed. - 21 Jul 2011 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)
My husband and I have traveled throughout Asia, and Ma Po Tofu is one of our favorites - we have ordered it wherever available. THIS recipe is by far the best Ma Po Tofu we have ever eaten! I am amazed and absolutely thrilled to have found it. Thank you Linda! I have used a couple of tiny variations due to supplies on hand: added two thinly sliced green onions, used "hot" chili garlic sauce and 1/2 tsp pepper while leaving out the cayenne, used black bean garlic sauce without rinsing (because it is a sauce), and substituted extra-lean ground turkey for the pork. My husband said it tasted exactly like pork, which he loves. Oh, and I added a little more chicken broth as it cooked down a bit. Delicious! - 12 Jun 2003 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)