A Spicy Journey of Culinary Excellence
Chen Mapo Tofu is a mouthwatering delicacy born in the heart of Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Picture the year 1862 when Chen Fuchun and his wife introduced this culinary masterpiece near Wanfu Bridge. Mr. Chen’s wife, fondly known as ‘Chen Mapo,’ crafted a remarkable tofu dish that blended fiery chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, umami-rich Doubanjiang, fermented black beans, succulent pork, and silky tofu.
Fast forward to the present day, and Sichuan Province’s culinary gem still shines brightly in Chengdu. However, it has also embarked on an exciting international journey. The unique adaptation of Mapo Tofu has captivated taste buds worldwide, especially in Japan. In the year 2000, it crossed borders, faithfully preserving the original recipe and becoming a beloved traditional delicacy enjoyed by many in Japan.
One cannot mention Chen Mapo Tofu without acknowledging the renowned Chen Mapo Tofu restaurant. This iconic establishment became part of the prestigious Chengdu Food and Beverage Corporation in 1956, garnering accolades that represent China’s gastronomic excellence.
Delve into the essence of Chen Mapo Tofu, where seven essential elements intricately weave together. “Ma” brings tingling sensations from freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns, while “la” unleashes fiery pungency through the marriage of chili peppers. “Tang” signifies perfectly cooked steaming hotness, while “su” introduces delightful minced meat tangles. “Nen” offers delectable chewiness, “shen” showcases the freshness of carefully selected tofu, and “xiang” elevates the aroma with captivating spices and seasonings.
Quality is at the heart of Chen Mapo Tofu, evident in its choice of ingredients. Domestically grown round soybeans and natural nigari combine to create cotton tofu that maintains its softness even after boiling. Garlic chives (Sanmiao) add a unique touch, and the numbing Sichuan peppercorns from Hanyuan County are skillfully ground. The harmonious blend of top-quality Pixian Douban paste and vibrant red paste adds the perfect flavor, while slow-cooked beef mince achieves tantalizing crispiness.
The true essence of Chen Mapo Tofu lies in the tantalizing fusion of robust spiciness and the interplay between velvety tofu and savory minced meat. While it is delightful on its own, it reaches new heights when enjoyed with fragrant rice. Unlike its Japanese counterpart, Chen Mapo Tofu allows customization of spiciness and Sichuan peppercorn intensity, catering to individual preferences.
As the birthplace of Mapo Tofu, Chen Mapo Tofu remains devoted to preserving traditional recipes and preparation methods, ensuring that the authentic taste of Sichuan-style Mapo Tofu is experienced beyond its homeland. Notably, this culinary masterpiece holds significant cultural significance in Japan, where it has gained popularity as Mapo Don—a milder version served over rice. The demand for this culinary gem has even extended to ready-to-eat food products, further solidifying its timeless allure.
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Official Website (Japanese Only): https://chenmapo.jp