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Mabo Tofu Recipe

Mabo Tofu (or Mapo Tofu) is one of the very popular Chinese dishes in Japan.  Tofu in a garlicky, spicy meat sauce is vey tasty, and it goes very well with Steamed Rice.  That may be the reason why Japanese people love the dish so much.

Mabo Tofu is so popular that it is found at all Chinese restaurants in Japan, but it is also a staple dinner entree at home.  Some people make it from scratch, but a lot of others buy instant sauce packets from the supermarket.  With the instant sauce, you only need to add Tofu.  It is not only easy to use the instant sauce, but also you don’t need to keep Chinese seasonings around in the kitchen, which may not be used too often.  Even though it is instant, the flavor is surprisingly not bad at all.  So why make it at home?  That’s because you could make it from ingredients of a Japanese pantry!  And many people don’t know that.  The main seasoning for Mabo Tofu is Miso.  Real Mabo Tofu uses fermented black bean paste; however, you can substitute with red Miso or just regular Miso like we did here.  Another important ingredient is chili paste.  We used Takanotsume dried chili pepper instead. You can adjust the amount of chili depending on how hot you want the dish to be.  If you are making for your family with kids, use just a couple of them, but if you want it hot, use as much as you like. Besides, it is quick and easy, and delicious!  So why not make it at home?

We have to warn you, though we may already have above, that this is not authentic Chinese Mabo Tofu and not quite the same as what you would find in a Chinese restaurant in the US (or China!).  This is a kind of Mabo Tofu that Japanese people enjoy at home.  Japanese Mabo Tofu has evolved to become its own dish, like Ramen and Gyoza did.  If you never tried Japanese Mabo Tofu, try this, and you will like it!

Mabo Tofu


  • 1 block Tofu (about 400g)
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • Japanese dried red pepper, remove seeds and cut thinly
  • 1/2 lb (225g) ground pork
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • Seasonings
  • 2 Tbsp Miso
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sake
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Katakuriko or cornstarch
  • 1 cup (240ml) water


  1. Cut Tofu into 1" cubes. Slice green onions thinly. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the seasonings until Miso dissolves. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a wok at medium heat, add garlic, ginger, and red pepper, and stir. Add ground pork and cook until browned. Add the seasonings and let it boil. Add cut Tofu and stir gently.
  4. When Tofu is cooked through, stir in green onions and sesame oil.

Mapo Tofu

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  • Chris
    September 8, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Hi! May I know how many servings would this make? Thanks!

  • Saar Harel
    September 16, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    An excellent recipe.
    First time I enjoyed tofu as a main.
    If you prepare it is very easy to make.

    Thank you

  • Marci
    December 13, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Didnt have miso on hand but went for it anyway and it turner out yummy to me. I love mabo so will need to try it with miso paste next time

  • Amy
    January 10, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for this. My kids don’t like spicy things, so I left out the red pepper. I also LOVE onions (and onions are so healthy), so I included half of a white onion, sauteed with the pork. I’m serving it with spinach ohitashi. And, though it makes it less “Japanese”, I used “firm” Tofu because that makes the dish more durable for leftovers, and I doubled the recipe. I use Japanese cookbooks too, but your site is handy because I don’t have to consider the metric/English conversions. 🙂