Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 • Simply One Cookbook


Japanese-style Mapo Tofu (Mabo Dofu) is extremely flavorful however a lot much less spicy than the unique Sichuan dish. This family-friendly recipe is fulfilling for youngsters as nicely. It’s a scrumptious but easy weeknight meal that’s prepared in simply half-hour! {Vegetarian/vegan substitution included}

A bowl containing mapo tofu over steamed rice.

Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) is well certainly one of our household’s favourite meals! It’s so easy to make but soul-satisfying. I like getting ready this dish on a busy weeknight after I solely have half-hour to spare for cooking dinner for the household.

We frequently eat mapo tofu donburi-style, with the tofu-and-sauce combination over fluffy steamed rice. Sure, who doesn’t like a one-bowl meal for straightforward cleanup? I feel you and your loved ones are going to take pleasure in it.

What’s Mapo Tofu?

A ichiju sansai meal consists of steamed rice, miso soup, and mapo tofu.

Mapo tofu is a well-liked Chinese language dish from Sichuan province identified for its fiery vivid purple sauce. The basic recipe is made with simmered silken tofu flavored with floor pork or beef, fermented bean paste (douban and douchi), chili oil, and Sichuan peppercorns. The dish is spicy, fragrant, deeply flavorful, and has a novel numbing character imparted from the Sichuan peppercorns.

Whereas the Sichuan-style mapo tofu is thought for its boldness and depth, the Japanese model has a milder character because it has been tailored to the Japanese palate. However, Japanese mapo tofu remains to be full of a number of umami— because of the layering of flavors. Additionally, the spice stage is tamed. In case you’re on the lookout for a not-spicy mapo tofu, this recipe is for you!

I’d say Japanese mapo tofu is good for anybody who’s spice adversarial, and even your youngsters will devour it.

A Japanese blue and white bowl containing Mapo Tofu over steamed rice.

Introduction of Mapo Tofu to Japan

In Japan, mapo tofu is named mabo dofu, and it’s written both as 麻婆豆腐 or マーボー豆腐 in Japanese.

How did the dish arrive in Japan, you may surprise? It was launched to the nation within the Nineteen Seventies by Chen Kenmin, a well-known Chinese language chef in Japan. I discussed Chef Chen in my earlier submit right here. He was the culinary hero that introduced many widespread Chinese language dishes to the Chinese language eating places in Japan.

Due to Chef Chen, you’ll discover plenty of well-known Chinese language dishes comparable to mapo tofu, ebi chili (chili prawns エビチリ), and beef and bell pepper stir-fry (chin-jao ro-su 青椒肉絲) that are actually a part of our repertoire.

These dishes have been loved in Japanese households for nearly half a century! In grocery shops, you will discover a complete array of handy ready-to-eat sauces for these widespread dishes. I bear in mind seeing these packages in my mother’s kitchen pantry too.

Distinction between Chinese language and Japanese Mapo Tofu

There are lots of variations of mabo dofu inside Japan, and every family cooks it in a different way.

So, what components do the Japanese use within the dish that aren’t included within the unique Chinese language mapo tofu? Usually, we would come with miso, mirin or sugar, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and sometimes sake.

Most distinctly, Japanese mabo dofu doesn’t embody any chili or Sichuan peppercorn.

Most distinctly, Japanese mabo dofu doesn’t embody any chili or Sichuan peppercorn. The one “spicy” ingredient comes from doubanjiang, spicy bean paste. Nevertheless, if you will discover a Taiwanese model of doubanjiang, you should purchase a non-spicy doubanjiang (豆瓣酱) or spicy doubanjiang (辣豆瓣酱) with purple chili in it. Extra about it within the subsequent part.

A ichiju sansai meal consists of steamed rice, miso soup, and mapo tofu.

The Components You’ll Want

Right here’s what you’ll want for this recipe:

  • Floor pork – In Japan, we all the time use floor pork. Nevertheless, you should utilize floor turkey, rooster, or beef.
  • Smooth/silken tofu
  • Aromatics: Inexperienced onions, ginger, and garlic
  • Condiments: Doubanjiang (spicy/non-spicy broad bean), miso, mirin, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and potato starch (cornstarch)
A Japanese blue and white bowl containing Mapo Tofu over steamed rice.

The Key Ingredient is Doubanjiang

That is really a easy dish to make. The one caveat is you do must have chili bean paste known as doubanjiang (豆瓣酱).

Doubanjiang | Easy Japanese Recipes at

Doubanjiang is a mix of fermented broad beans as the principle ingredient, soybeans, and infrequently sizzling chilies. The salty, savory, umami-rich paste provides an unimaginable depth and character to mapo tofu that you shouldn’t substitute.

Non-Spicy Doubanjiang: Do you know that there’s NON-SPICY doubanjiang? Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Guandong in China have non-spicy doubanjiang. It has the identical savory depth within the paste however with out the warmth. To tell apart the 2 variations, the Sichuan doubanjiang is named la-doubanjiang (辣豆瓣醬, “la” (辣) which means ‘sizzling’ or ‘spicy’).

Doubanjiang Spicy Bean Paste
The spicy (辣) model is on the left, and the NON-SPICY model is on the correct.

When the children had been small, I used solely non-spicy doubanjiang to make my mapo tofu. Taiwanese manufacturers like Kangshan (岡山) (above) and Ming Teh (明德) supply the doubanjiang made out of fermented broad beans and soybeans, in addition to the spicy model with chili.

You may get these Taiwanese manufacturers at an area Asian grocery retailer (I get mine at Marina Market in San Mateo). Amazon doesn’t promote the non-spicy doubanjiang at the moment (please let me know if you happen to discover one).

Doubanjiang Substitute: In case you actually can’t discover doubanjiang, you should utilize gochujang (Korean chili paste; spicy) or doenjang (Korean soybean paste; non-spicy). Nevertheless, the components are barely totally different and have totally different taste profiles.

The Finest Tofu for Mapo Tofu Recipe

There are lots of various kinds of tofu out there, however I like to recommend utilizing tender tofu for the very best texture. Smooth tofu is easy, tender, and creamy, which pairs superbly with the savory sauce and floor meat. It really works finest for each Japanese-style mabo dofu and genuine Sichuan mapo tofu.

Bowls containing mapo tofu over steamed rice.

Easy methods to Make Mapo Tofu

Mapo tofu is an easy dish, and my son could make it by himself. This was one of many first few recipes he discovered to cook dinner over the summer season break one 12 months. He beloved this dish a lot and wished to have the ability to cook dinner it on his personal.

Right here’s the overview.

  1. Put together all of the components. Measure and mix all of the seasonings earlier than you begin cooking.
  2. Cook dinner the aromatics and floor pork in a frying pan or wok.
  3. Add the sauce components and let it simmer till the sauce begins effervescent.
  4. Add the tofu and coat it with the sauce till the flavors infuse.
  5. Serve by itself or with steamed rice!

Now you have got one reliably satisfying dish for the household. I hope you take pleasure in my Japanese Mapo Tofu recipe!

A Japanese blue and white bowl containing Mapo Tofu over steamed rice.

5 Cooking Tips about Making Mapo Tofu

  • Measure and lower all of the components earlier than cooking.
  • Mix all of the seasoning components in a small bowl.
  • Drain the tofu forward of time for about quarter-hour. This prevents the tofu from releasing moisture into the sauce.
  • Be cautious to not burn the garlic and ginger when stir-frying. You don’t need to add a burnt bitter style to the sauce.
  • Fastidiously stir the tofu: Tofu can simply break and turn into mushy. Shake the pan to coat the tofu with the sauce, minimizing spatula motion.

The Wok I’m Utilizing in This Recipe

Tsubame Tekki Nitride Pans

I’m partnering with MTC Kitchen, my favourite Japanese kitchen retailer in NYC, to check out this carbon metal wok, and I like it!

These nitrogen-hardened wok, a brand new sequence of iron cookware from Summit Japan, is infused with nitrogen, providing sturdiness, rust resistance, and all the advantages of conventional carbon metal cookware. They’re appropriate with induction, fuel, or electrical stoves. In comparison with normal carbon metal cookware, these are extraordinarily sturdy and rust-proof as a result of nitrogen remedy.

I actually like Summit’s carbon metal sequence as a result of they’re a lot lighter than French carbon metal pans. Their glorious warmth conductivity makes them good for frying, stir-frying, and grilling—important for Asian cooking! In case you’re trying to put money into a carbon metal wok, I extremely advocate them as they may final for years with correct care.

A ichiju sansai meal consists of steamed rice, miso soup, and mapo tofu.


Q: Can I take advantage of this recipe to make vegan or vegetarian mapo tofu?

Sure! Use finely diced shiitake mushrooms rather than the bottom pork. Each recent and dried mushrooms would work. Aldo, use vegetarian stir-fry sauce.

Q: Can I take advantage of one other form of floor meat as an alternative of pork?

Certain, you should utilize floor rooster or turkey. Floor beef can have a stronger taste, however it must be advantageous.

Q: Can I alter the spice stage?

You may lower down on doubanjiang (spicy bean paste) or use the Taiwanese non-spicy doubanjiang I discussed earlier. In case you prefer it barely spicier, sprinkle la-yu (Japanese chili oil).

Extra Scrumptious Tofu Recipes

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A bowl containing mapo tofu over steamed rice.

Mapo Tofu (Mabo Dofu)

Japanese-style Mapo Tofu (Mabo Dofu) is extremely flavorful however quite a bit much less spicy than the unique Sichuan dish. This can be a family-friendly recipe that kids will take pleasure in, too. It‘s a scrumptious but easy weeknight meal that‘s prepared in simply half-hour!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook dinner Time: 15 minutes

Complete Time: 25 minutes



Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you’d like substitutes for Japanese condiments and components, click on right here.

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  • Collect all of the components.

  • Mix all of the seasonings. Add 2½ Tbsp doubanjiang (spicy chili bean paste), 1 Tbsp oyster sauce, 1 Tbsp miso, ½ Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp mirin, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp potato starch or cornstarch, and 4 Tbsp water in a bowl. Combine nicely along with a whisk.

  • Finely mince 2 cloves garlic (I take advantage of this garlic press). Peel the ginger pores and skin thinly with a pointy knife. If you cannot peel it thinly, you possibly can scrape it off with a spoon.

  • Reduce the ginger into skinny slices, julienne into skinny strips, after which mince them. Measure 1 Tbsp ginger.

  • Reduce 2 inexperienced onions/scallions into small items.

  • Drain 14 oz tender/silken tofu (kinugoshi dofu) and lower into ¾-inch (2 cm) cubes.

To Cook dinner the Mapo Tofu

  • Warmth a wok or giant frying pan on medium warmth. When it‘s sizzling, add 1 Tbsp impartial oil. When the oil is sizzling, add the garlic and ginger to the wok.

  • Sauté within the oil (make certain they don‘t burn). As soon as they’re aromatic, add ½ lb floor pork.

  • Cook dinner the pork, breaking apart massive chunks with a spatula or picket spoon, till not pink.

  • Add the seasoning combination and stir completely. Convey the sauce to a simmer.

  • As soon as the sauce is simmering, add the tofu and gently coat it with the sauce. Stir steadily, with out mashing the tofu, till it’s heated by means of.

  • Add the inexperienced onions and stir to include simply earlier than taking the pan off the warmth.


Vitamin Details

Mapo Tofu (Mabo Dofu)

Quantity per Serving

% Day by day Worth*

* % Day by day Values are primarily based on a 2000 calorie eating regimen.

Writer: Nami

Course: Principal Course

Delicacies: Japanese

Key phrase: pork, tofu

© Content material and pictures are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is each inspired and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any web site or social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my picture use coverage right here.

Editor’s Notice: The submit was initially revealed on January 29, 2011. The video and new footage had been added to the submit on Might 6, 2016, with none change to the recipe. The submit has been republished with extra content material on Might 25, 2022.



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