Braised Tofu and Pork with Pickled Chilies

Closeup of bowl with Braised Tofu and Pork with Pickled Chilies.

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Easy to make and full of addictive garlicky and spicy flavors, this Braised Tofu and Pork with Pickled Chilies is downright delicious with piping hot steamed rice!



For the Pork Marinade:

  • 100 grams / 3.5 ounces Ground Pork (see note 1)
  • ½ TSP Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • ½ TSP Shao Xing Rice Wine
  • 1/8 TSP ground White Pepper
  • ¼ TSP Sesame Oil

For the Sauce:

  • 1.5 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBLS Shao Xing Rice Wine
  • 1 TBLS Chinkiang Vinegar
  • ½ TSP Dark Soy Sauce
  • ½ TBLS Sweet Bean Sauce (see note 2)
  • 23 TSP White Sugar, to taste
  • 1 TSP Sesame Oil
  • 1 TSP Pure Chili Oil (without flakes/seeds)
  • ½ cup / 118ml Water

For the Braised Tofu and Pork with Pickled Chilies:

  • 350 grams / 12.35 ounce package Firm White Tofu – drained, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 6 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 2 TBLS minced Ginger
  • 2 Spring Onion (Scallion/Green Onion) – small chopped, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts
  • 28 fresh Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any small hot red chilies), to taste – chopped
  • 210 Chinese Dried Red Chilies (see note 3) – stems removed, snipped into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 TBLS Peanut Oil (or any other neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point)
  • 23 TBLS Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies Sauce (see note 4)
  • 1 TBLS Fermented Black Beans (see note 5) – rinsed
  • 1 TBLS Potato Starch (or Corn Starch)
  • 3 TBLS Water



  1. Marinate the pork: Combine the ground pork, low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, ground white pepper, and sesame oil in a medium sized bowl. Mix well to combine, then set aside.
  2. Make the sauce: Mix together the low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar, dark soy sauce, sweet bean sauce, white sugar, sesame oil, pure chili oil (if using), and water in a large measuring cup (for easier pouring) or bowl until combined well.
  3. Prepare the fresh and dry ingredients: Drain the water from the package of tofu and pat-dry the block with kitchen paper towels. Gently squeeze so that the paper towel absorbs the water. Place the block on a cutting board and cut into ¾-inch cubes. Set aside. Chop the garlic, ginger, spring onion (separate the white and light green parts from the dark green parts), fresh red chilies, and dried red chilies as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section. Place the fermented black beans in a small fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water from the sink until the water runs clear. Set aside.

For the Braised Tofu and Pork with Pickled Chilies:

  1. Cook the pork: Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the marinated pork and cook for 1 minute, breaking up the clumps with your spatula until just cooked through. Transfer to a clean bowl using a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of pork fat from the wok.
  2. Sauté the pickled red chilies and black beans: Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil to the wok and heat over medium heat. Once hot, add the pickled red chilies and sauté for 20-30 seconds. Add the fermented black beans and sauté for another 20 seconds until aromatic.
  3. Stir-fry the aromatics: Add the garlic, ginger, and spring onion white and light green parts. Stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Toss the chilies: Add the fresh and dried red chilies and toss for 30 second to combine.
  5. Stir in the sauce: Pour the sauce into the wok and stir to combine. Simmer for a minute.
  6. Add the tofu and pork: Carefully add the tofu cubes and cooked pork and stir gently to combine. Simmer for 2-3 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  7. Stir in the potato starch slurry: Mix together the 1 tablespoon potato starch and 3 tablespoons water in a measuring cup (or bowl) until combined. Stir in the slurry until combined well, taking care to not break the tofu cubes. Simmer for a minute until thickened. If the sauce thickens too much too quickly, add a splash of water or two until your desired consistency is reached.
  8. Stir through spring onion greens: Stir in most of the spring onion dark green parts (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish), then switch off the heat.
  9. To Serve: Transfer to a serving bowl/dish and garnish with the reserved spring onion. Serve immediately with warm steamed rice.



  1. Ground Pork. Feel free to use ground beef, chicken, or turkey instead of pork if you prefer. Alternatively, use a plant-based ground meat substitute (Impossible Meat, Beyond Beef, OmniPork, etc.) to make this vegetarian. Finely chopped Asian brown mushroom (such as shiitakes) can also be used instead. If doing so, skip the marinade ingredients and add the ground white pepper to the stir-fry at the end instead.
  2. Sweet Bean Sauce (tian mian jiang – 甜面酱). Also known as sweet flour sauce, sweet wheat paste, or just sweet sauce. This is a confusing ingredient because although the word “bean” is included in the name sometimes, the primary ingredient is wheat. Some versions don’t have any type of fermented soybeans in it! It’s a sweet dark brown sauce/paste that’s similar to oyster sauce in texture but thicker. Look for it in an Asian or Chinese supermarket, or find it online. Substitute with hoisin sauce or oyster sauce for a slightly different but still delicious flavor for the dish.
  3. Chinese Dried Red Chilies. I used spicy Xiao Mi La dried chilies. Any medium-hot or hot Chinese dried chilies that are easily available to you can be used. You can also use Thai Bird’s Eye dried chilies. However, you may want to use fewer pieces as they are hotter than most Chinese dried chilies. Shake out some of the seeds for a milder dish.
  4. Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce. Made with a blend of chopped hot red chilies, water, salt, MSG, and potassium sorbate (food preservative), this sauce adds spicy and tangy flavors. While Look for it in an Asian or Chinese supermarket or purchase it online. If unavailable, substitute with sambal oelek, or chopped Mexican or Thai pickled red chilies for a similar flavor. If you happen to live in the Sichuan region or in China, use pickled fresh er jing tiao chilies (pao la jiao – 泡辣椒).
  5. Fermented Black Beans (douchi – 豆豉). These are black soybeans that have been fermented with salt. They’re also known as preserved or salted black beans. They add savory umami notes and can be found in packages or cans at an Asian or Chinese supermarket and online.
  6. Adjust sauce consistency to your preference. Add less (thinner sauce) or more (thicker sauce) potato starch to the potato starch slurry mixture based on your sauce consistency preference.
  7. Adjust spice level to taste. Use less of (or omit) the fresh Bird’s Eye red chilies, Chinese dried chilies, and chili oil in the stir-fry sauce for a milder dish. Or use more of these ingredients for spicier dish! As for Lao Gan Ma Pickled Chilies sauce, I recommend reducing to 2 tablespoons from 3 tablespoons at the most for a milder dish. Reducing the amount further will take away too much of the tangy and savory umami notes from this dish.
  8. Recipe adapted from Ian Benites.


Keywords: braised tofu and pork, braised tofu, Sichuan braised tofu