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Let’s be clear: Nothing surpasses the hearty deliciousness of a traditional mapo tofu. But for those days when you find yourself without soft tofu in the fridge, or when you are craving something vegetarian, this mapo potato will hit the mark. Potatoes step in for tofu and pork, providing a perfect vessel that eagerly soaks up all of the deep fermented flavors. (If you want a hit of protein, you can add some soft tofu just before you add the cornstarch slurry in Step 3.) Doubanjiang, a fermented bean paste that is a staple in Chinese cuisine, provides mapo dishes with its signature spicy umami richness; each brand will vary in heat so adjust according to your personal preference. If you don’t have doubanjiang, you could substitute with fermented black soybeans, which are less spicy but will give you similar salty funkiness.
By Hetty Lui McKinnon
Total Time
30 minutes
  • Yield:4 to 6 servings
  • Neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons doubanjiang
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns (from 1 teaspoon whole)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 to 2 dried whole red chiles or ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2½ pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • Chile oil or chile crisp, for serving, optional
  • White rice, for serving
Note: Ingredients may have been altered from the original.
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