Japanese Mabo Dofu is mildly spicy dish that is great to eat with lots of rice! This mouth watering dish is easy for anyone to cook with just a couple of ingredients!
Mabo Dofu is based off a Chinese influenced dish, Shichuan mapo tofu, and changed to better suite the Japanese palate. Mabo Dofu is mildly spicy while Shichuan mapo tofu is very spicy. While this dish looks complex it is actually easy to make and can be prepared in less than 30 minutes!
The main ingredients are tofu, ground pork, and a mixture of doubanjiang and miso for flavoring. Because this dish has evolved to better suite Japanese palates, Mabo Dofu is loved by kids.
The difference between Chinese Mapo tofu and Mabo Dofu
As I mentioned, Chinese mapo tofu is spicy while Mabo Dofu(Japanese mapo tofu) is much more mild. There are a lot of varieties of Mabo Dofu in Japan, but the basic recipe always miso. This is the big reason why Mabo Dofu is so more mild. We make it mild on purpose unlike Chinese mapo tofu which uses a lot of spices to make it spicy.
The ingredients for making the best Mabo Tofu
There are other ingredients that you have to get when you make Mabo Dofu but the most important ingredients are doubanjiang and miso. If you don’t have doubanjiang, you can buy it on Amazon for a good price, or you can go to an Asian grocery store. I had a hard time finding doubanjiang at my local grocery stores.
For miso, you can typically buy it at Asian grocery stores. When shopping for miso, the type of miso you buy can change how spicy your Mabo Dofu will turn out. I use だし入り味噌 which is miso including dashi. This type of miso is really good for when you make miso soup because you don’t need to make the dashi by yourself (however I still make dashi even though I use miso that includes dashi).
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- 1 firm tofu I use extra firm tofu in this recipe
- 230 g ground pork Using ground pork is the classic way to prepare this dish but any ground meat is ok to use
- 1 knob ginger 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 clove garlic 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoon doubanjiang I love this doubanjiang
- 1 teaspoon torigara soup or bouillon torigara soup base
- 150 ml water
- 2 Tablespoon sake HERE to buy sake
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce HERE to buy soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon miso HERE to buy miso
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch or potato starch I use cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon vinegar to taste if you have it.
- 1 teaspoon neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc) to cook
- scallion (green onion) to taste
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Drain the tofu and cut into about 1 inch squares.
- Mince the garlic cloves and ginger finely.
- Use a medium bowl and add torigara soup base, water, sake, soy sauce, sugar and miso. Mix them well.
- Heat up a medium sized pan on medium heat. Add oil, ginger, and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add doubanjiang.
- Add ground pork and cook until it turns brown and is cooked through.
- Add ④ into the pan. When you see it just beginning to boil, add the tofu. Turn the heat to low for 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat off once and add water-soluble potato starch. *1Stir well and turn the heat to medium.
- Add vinegar and sesame oil to taste.
- Let's serve! After you serve a bowl, add cut green onion on top!
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