Ma-Po Tofu is a famous Chinese dish of the Sichuan area, known well for spicy foods with red chili oil. Today, I would like to try and make Ma-Po Tofu from scratch, using ingredients accessible in Japan.

What is Ma-Po Tofu?

Ma-Po Tofu is a stir-fried dish with tofu, and minced pork. There are 2 types of Ma-Po Tofu: 1) Red type , and 2) Black type. The Red type is made with the red chili ingredients, such as chili oil, and “to-ban-jan”, which is a Chinese spice, kind of like chili and miso mixed together. You can imagine how red it will be, just by looking at the ingredients! The black Ma-Po is basically the red type + a special spice called “Kasho Pepper”. As introduced in many other recipes I write, this has a very distinct spiciness to it, and it stimulates the tongue! Today in Japan, the red type is more common, but we just love the black Ma-Po type. The difference is whether to add the Kasho pepper or not, so try it out and see which one you prefer! I think a lot of Japanese people love to eat this over rice. I literally cannot stop eating rice when I have Ma-Po Tofu for dinner… Watch out of it’s addicton!

Can it really be cooked from scratch?

Before trying this recipe, I didn’t think that Ma-Po Tofu could be cooked from scratch. When I crave for this meal, I usually used to eat out, or use a “pouch” when cooking at home. A pouch is an already-made seasoning sauce, that is manufactured by Ajinomoto groups (one of the largest food companies in Japan), that can be bought in any grocery stores. The most famous brand of the pouches would be the “cook-do” series, as they offer you a whole line-up of delicious meals! As you can imagine, the pouch is easy enough to cook, because you just need to mix the pouch sauce with the vegetables, minced pork, and tofu in a frying pan! But because of the complex delicious taste and fragrance, I was judging that this Ma-Po Tofu recipe was impossible to cook at home without using the help of the pouch. However, it is possible, and in fact, such an easy job! The benefit of cooking it yourself is that you could customize the taste, such as adjusting the level of spiciness. So if you have family members that cannot eat spicy food, you can add no chili at all, and just use regular miso instead of the To-ban Jan spice. Or, if you are just the type that craves for spicy food, add as much chili as you like!

Shopping & Cooking tips?

  1. The tofu is key to this recipe. Make sure you buy the “Momen Tofu”, which is a firmer type of tofu compared to the silky smooth “Kinu Tofu”. You want the tofu to have the diced shape when you eat.
  2. You want the tofu to be cooked thoroughly. So use a microwave to heat the tofu evenly, before stirring in the frying pan with the sauce!
  3. Be careful not to crush the tofu, after putting it in the pan. Stir gently, so that the sauce mixes well with it, without breaking the tofu.
  4. Add dry spices such as the “Kasho pepper” & regular pepper as a topping. This will keep the crunchy texture, and will be more stimulating once you bite the spice.
  5. I recommend you cook half of the spring onions, and use the other half raw as a topping. The raw spring onions are crunchy/juicy, and the fragrance matches well with the spicy sauce.
  6. Don’t forget the corn starch! This will thicken the Ma-Po Tofu sauce, which is better when you pour it on your rice!

Category

Yields2 Servings

 1 Momen Tofu
 100 g Minced Pork
 ½ spring onions (Half raw for topping, half to cook with sauce)
 1 Ginger clove
 1 Garlic clove
 1 tbsp Oil (sesame oil preferred)
 1 tsp To-ban Jan (Spicy Chili Miso)
 1 tsp chopped red chili (for spicy lovers)
Sauce
 200 ml water
 1 tbsp Sake
 1 tsp Chicken Broth Soup Block (Consomme is OK)
  tsp Sugar
 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
Starch (To Thicken Sauce)
 2 tsp starch
 2 tsp water
Topping
 1 Coriander
 1 tbsp Crushed Kasho Pepper
 1 tbsp Chili oil (Taberu-Ra-yu recommended)

Prepare
1

Cut the tofu into diced pieces (2cm). Chop the spring onions, garlic, and ginger.

2

Microwave the tofu for 2 minutes. (600w)

Cook
3

Place the sesame oil into the frying pan, and heat in medium. Put in the minced pork, and stir fry until color has changed. Put in the spring onion, ginger, red chili and garlic until fragrant. Put in the to-ban-jan & stir for another minute.

4

Add the sauce ingredients, and place a lid to simmer for 7 minutes.

5

Finally, put the tofu and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Add the corn starch powder + water, and gently mix without breaking the tofu.

Toppings
6

Grind and crush the kasho pepper. Chop the coriander and sprinkle on top along with the remaining spring onions.

7

If you may like, pour chili oil and sprinkle fresh black pepper for more spice!

Ingredients

 1 Momen Tofu
 100 g Minced Pork
 ½ spring onions (Half raw for topping, half to cook with sauce)
 1 Ginger clove
 1 Garlic clove
 1 tbsp Oil (sesame oil preferred)
 1 tsp To-ban Jan (Spicy Chili Miso)
 1 tsp chopped red chili (for spicy lovers)
Sauce
 200 ml water
 1 tbsp Sake
 1 tsp Chicken Broth Soup Block (Consomme is OK)
  tsp Sugar
 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
Starch (To Thicken Sauce)
 2 tsp starch
 2 tsp water
Topping
 1 Coriander
 1 tbsp Crushed Kasho Pepper
 1 tbsp Chili oil (Taberu-Ra-yu recommended)

Directions

Prepare
1

Cut the tofu into diced pieces (2cm). Chop the spring onions, garlic, and ginger.

2

Microwave the tofu for 2 minutes. (600w)

Cook
3

Place the sesame oil into the frying pan, and heat in medium. Put in the minced pork, and stir fry until color has changed. Put in the spring onion, ginger, red chili and garlic until fragrant. Put in the to-ban-jan & stir for another minute.

4

Add the sauce ingredients, and place a lid to simmer for 7 minutes.

5

Finally, put the tofu and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Add the corn starch powder + water, and gently mix without breaking the tofu.

Toppings
6

Grind and crush the kasho pepper. Chop the coriander and sprinkle on top along with the remaining spring onions.

7

If you may like, pour chili oil and sprinkle fresh black pepper for more spice!

Ma-Po Tofu
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