Sichuan Bolognese – Mapo Tofu Pasta

Sichuan Bolognese - Mapo Tofu Pasta

Imagine a traditional bolognese, meaty goodness loaded on pasta, now imagine when you take a bite and it’s SO SPICY and numbs your mouth with Sichuan peppercorns! That’s the magic of this Sichuan bolognese! If you have ever had Mapo Tofu before, I basically crossed a mapo tofu recipe with a bolognese recipe to create the sauce for this pasta. Mapo tofu should be served with pasta more often!

The inspiration for this recipe

I first saw a Sichuan bolognese at the now closed Best Little Restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown. I really wanted to order it but the person I was dining with didn’t want to burn their face off, and the staff said it was pretty spicy, so we passed on the dish. It’s been a craving ever since! Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to go back. I decided to make it at home the way I thought it might be, or maybe that I wanted it to be. And “the way I wanted it to be” was basically a mapo tofu with pasta and tomatoes. I still have plans to go back and check the dish out. This version was amazing to satisfy my craving before I can actually make it back in. (Update- the restaurant is closed so I can’t try their version! SAD!)

Cooking the veggies

The veggies in bolognese are the unsung star the dish and it’s true for this Sichuan version too. I used what I would normally use- carrot, celery, and onion, but added some cabbage. After they cooked a bit, some garlic, ginger, and chiles hit the pot.

cooking the veggies

Next add the meat and continue to build the Sichuan Bolognese

I seared off the beef before cooking the veggies in the previous photo, then removed it from the pan and added the veggies. Finally the beef goes back in. Then I added some soy sauce, bean paste, and xiaoxing wine. Oh, and Sichuan peppercorns of course. Lots of Sichuan peppercorns. Plus a can of tomatoes cause it’s bolognese after all. This is my mapo bolognese hybrid, but if you want to do a more traditional mapo tofu, this is my favorite.

Meat and tomatoes next

Tofu goes in after it cooks like an hour. This is soft tofu. Cook it for another 10 minutes stirring often before adding the pasta. The tofu will break down into smaller pieces. If you were just making mapo tofu, you would want the tofu to stay whole, but since this is for Sichuan Bolognese, It’s good for them to break down.

Then the tofu and pasta to complete the Sichuan Bolognese

Serving the Sichuan Bolognese

After the sauce cooks with the pasta for about 2 minutes, serve the pasta and top with more chili flakes and some scallions.

Sichuan Bolognese - Mapo Tofu Pasta

This Sichuan Bolognese Mapo Tofu Pasta dish is soooooo good. I couldn’t stop eating! Spicy twists on bolognese are my ideal comfort food and this mapo tofu version was a dream.

Sichuan Bolognese - Mapo Tofu Pasta

It’s super spicy, but it has the perfect lingering continual spice and not the kind that totally sets your mouth on fire at first contact.

Sichuan Bolognese - Mapo Tofu Pasta

The tomatoes are a nice touch and really bring together the Sichuan Bolognese and the mapo tofu style sauce.

Sichuan Bolognese - Mapo Tofu Pasta

Twists on Sichuan Bolognese

This is a hybrid Sichuan bolognese mapo tofu, but if you wanted to do a more traditional mapo tofu and serve it with pasta, I would check out this recipe. If you want this to be less spicy, I think you could make it with about half the sichuan pepper and one or two thai chilis and it would still be awesome.

If you love spicy Asian twists on bolognese, check out my Bulgogi Bolognese!

Sichuan Bolognese

An insanely addictive mashup of bolognese sauce and mapo tofu, a fiery tofu and meat dish from Sichuan.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Mash-Up, pasta, Spicy
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 862kcal


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns whole
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced cabbage
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch ginger minced
  • 5 Thai chilis sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns ground
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fermented bean paste
  • 1/4 cup Xiaoxing wine
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 7 ounces tofu diced
  • 1 pound pasta preferably a thicker noodle like fettuccine or tagliatelle
  • scallions and more chopped chiles for garnish


  • Place a large heavy bottom pan over high heat. Add in a little vegetable oil. Add in the beef and sear to brown and cook through, making sure to get good color on the meat. Remove from pan.
  • Add in the peppercorns and a little extra oil if needed. Cook about 2 minutes to brown the peppercorns and infuse the oil. Remove the peppercorns from the pot, keeping the oil in.
  • Add the onion, carrot, celery, and cabbage to the pot and cook about 10 minutes until lightly starting to brown.
  • Add in the garlic, ginger, and chiles and cook 3 minutes.
  • Add in the ground sichuan pepper and stir to combine.
  • Add in the soy sauce, bean paste, and wine and cook 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Next add the tomatoes, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Finally add the chicken stock and reduce heat to maintain a light simmer.
  • Meanwhile bring salted pasta water to a boil. After the meat mixture has reduced and thickened, (maybe like 45 minutes later) add in the tofu and stir well. The tofu should crumble into small tofu balls.
  • Drop the pasta and cook till al dente.
  • Add the pasta directly to the pan with the sauce along with about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and stir well.
  • Serve and top with scallions and chiles.


Calories: 862kcal | Carbohydrates: 105g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 936mg | Potassium: 1061mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 2911IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 169mg | Iron: 6mg

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