I used to cook all sorts of Chinese food before becoming vegan, but it usually featured some sort of meat. I’ve since avoided a lot of Chinese food, but my mom recently reminded me that there are a lot of vegan options when making Chinese cuisine, due to a heavy Buddhist influence. It was finally time to give vegan Chinese food a try!
With the cold weather fast approaching, some spicy and warm dish sounded most appealing. One of my best friends, Andrea, had spent some time in Chengdu recently, and came back with a strong craving for mapo tofu, a classic Szechuan dish that is both spicy and delicious. I just visited Andrea in Boston, and we tried the mapo tofu at Mala Restaurant. It was delicious, but we didn’t realize that there was pork in the dish until after the dish arrived. ? When I asked the waitress if there was pork in the dish, she said, “Just a little!” *facepalm* Let’s just say it was a good day to be opportunitarian.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to make a vegan mapo tofu at home! Instead of the traditional pork, you can substitute flavorful mushrooms (like dried shiitake mushrooms) to add some additional depth to the dish. I like using Mori-Nu tofu — it always has a great consistency.