Slow Mapo Tofu

Slow Mapo Tofu

This is weird but I used to have this crazy idea that you couldn’t have two different types of protein in the one dish.

I remember being at a Chinese restaurant and a friend raving about the Mapo Tofu and alarm bells going off in my brain. Tofu AND pork in the one dish? No way.

Luckily in recent years I’ve been willing to call myself out on my limiting protein beliefs. And I’m so glad I did.

This is one of my favourite things to eat now. Deeply savoury ground pork (mince) slow cooked until melting with a big chunk of comforting tofu. Green beans for freshness and a little Sriracha for the chilli kick. Cashews for crunch.

We’re talking all good things.

And while I think this is best in the slow cooker for those days when you’re going to be home late, it’s also fab cooked quickly in a frying pan, if you forget to do the slow cooker thing in the morning.

Because there are only 3 ingredients to prep – none of which requires chopping, I can get this in the slow cooker and cooking in literally 3 minutes (I timed it one day).

Slow Mapo Tofu

Cook Time 10 hours
Slow Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 3 people


  • 500 g pork mince
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce OR soy sauce
  • 450 g firm tofu
  • 500 g frozen green beans
  • 50 g cashews
  • sriracha or hot sauce


Slow Cooker Instructions

  1. If using the slow cooker, place meat, oyster / soy sauce and tofu in the base of the slow cooker. Turn on to low and leave for 10-12 hours. Or high for 4-5 hours.
  2. When you're ready to serve increase the temp to high. Stir the meat, breaking up any large chunks. Place green beans on top of the meat. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes just to warm everything.
  3. Serve in bowls with Sriracha / hot sauce drizzled over. And cashews sprinkled on top.

Frying Pan Instructions

  1. Heat a large frying pan on a medium high heat. Add meat and cook, stirring and breaking it up over a high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the oyster sauce. Dice tofu and add to the pan. Cook, stirring until tofu is hot.
  2. While the meat is cooking, place green beans in a heat proof bowl. Cover with boiling water from the kettle and stand for a few minutes. Or boil in a saucepan.
  3. When the meat is cooked drain the beans and toss in with the meat.
  4. Serve in bowls with Sriracha / hot sauce drizzled over. And cashews sprinkled on top.
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Variations & Substitutions for Slow Mapo Tofu

plan-B (pantry) – this is a total pantry recipe!

short on time – use the frying pan method.

vegetarian – meat = cooked lentils or chickpeas. Use vegetarian oyster sauce or the soy sauce or hoisin sauce.

different protein – any ground (minced meat) will work. Eggs poached in the spicy meat would be lovely if tofu isn’t your thing. Or you could use sliced chicken or beef. Also good with chicken drumsticks or wings.

soy-free – Eggs poached in the spicy meat would be lovely if tofu isn’t your thing. Use the oyster sauce option.

more substantial (carb lovers) – rice or noodles.

more substantial (low carb) – more tofu or cashews. Good with avocado on the side.

family-friendly – serve hot sauce at the table.

different vegetables – any greens will work. Mushrooms are good too. Or serve with cauliflower rice or broccoli rice. Also good with a diced onion cooked in with the meat (I use frozen onion)

more fancy / for entertaining – serve with coriander or mint leaves or sliced green onions. You could also add some finely sliced or grated ginger or sichuan peppercorns with the meat before cooking.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

pork mince – freeze it.

oyster sauce / soy sauce / sriracha / hot sauce / cashews – keep them in the pantry.

tofu – will keep in an unopened packet for a few months (check use by date on packet). Opened packets can be frozen.

frozen green beans – will keep in the freezer for months.

Problem Solving Guide

bland – more salt! OR more hot sauce or oyster sauce. Or add in a flavour bomb.

too dry – overcooked omelette. Next time get it out earlier. For now a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil will help.

no slow cooker – either use the frying pan method or cook in the oven covered in a medium casserole dish. 150C (300F) for 2-3 hours. Add 1/2 cup water at the beginning and top up with extra water as needed.

Prepare Ahead

Yes! Just cook as per the recipe but keep the cashews separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks or can be frozen.

Slow Mapo Tofu

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