Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Japanese Style, Chinese Mabo Dofu...

Mabo Dofu on Rice

Another of my favorite comfort foods is Mabo Dofu.  It's basically a Chinese dish that is tofu and some type  of meat in a spicy sauce.  My mom would make it often when I was a child, but she would use a prepackaged seasoning box.  

There used to be a Japanese cooking show that I would love to watch  in the mornings here in LA, but unfortunately, they stopped airing it or it's not on a channel that I get.  It was called 3 Mins Cooking, but the show was about 15 mins, so I'm not sure how they came up with the title.  I got a lot of simple recipes from this show and this version of Mabo Dofu is a loose interpretation.  They added Napa Cabbage (Chinese Cabbage), but I also added mushrooms to it.  

Chinese Chicken Powder, Miso, Tobanjan, Oyster Sauce, Hoisin, Sugar & Sake

**I was just looking at my post and realized I didn't put any Soy Sauce into the sauce...lol.  I didn't miss it, but it would add extra flavor ;o) **  8/13/11

I always say my recipes are not very authentic, I'm sure this is definitely NOT how a Chinese cook would make this, so I call it "Japanese Style".  I figure that if it tastes good, it is good enough for me :o)  The funny thing is, I'm such a purist about Japanese food when we go to a restaurant and make snide remarks when it's not very authentic, but when I cook at home, I throw in all types of odds & ends...lol  

In the base, I put in...Gara (which is basically a Japanese Chicken Stock Powder, the one I used this time has Chinese flavorings in it.), Miso, Tobanjan (a Korean spicy paste, see not authentic ;o), Oyster Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, a touch of Sake, sugar & salt.

I was just re-reading my post and just realized that Tobanjan is not Korean, it's Chinese...lol  When I make Korean dishes and need to make it spicy I use Tobanjan instead of Gojuchang (which IS Korean and similar), so I always THINK of it being Korean;o)  Sorry for the confusion!

All mixed up w/water...

I blended the above ingredients with water...

Bunapi Mushrooms, Eryngi (King Oyster) Mushrooms, Napa Cabbage

I love Bunapi Mushrooms.  I love how beautifully white they are and have a very light, crisp flavor to them.  They are a breed of Bunashimeji mushrooms developed by Hokuto Corp.  You can find these at many Asian markets & specialty grocery stores.

Ginger, Garlic & Green Onions...

After Sauteeing...

I saute the garlic & green onion in a bit of Rice Bran Oil & Sesame Oil then add the other veggies including the ginger then set it aside.

Ground Pork...

I then saute the Ground Pork w/a touch of Rice Bran Oil until it is pink, not cooked all the way through, so it won't be dried out in the final dish...

After Adding Liquid...

Then add the liquid and cook the pork through and let the sauce concentrate down a touch...

After Adding Tofu & Veggies...

Next I add in the tofu & veggies until it's all heated through and add a potato starch slurry to thicken it up.  If it gets too concentrated down, I add a little water to it.  Don't add too much water or you will lose all the flavor.

Voila...garnished w/green onions...

Japanese Style, Chinese Mabo Dofu

Love eating it on top of rice where all the flavors get seeped in...


  1. This looks amazing. I love using miso! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. This looks delicious! I'm with you 100%! If it tastes good - it's a good recipe! It doesn't matter if it's an authentic style! The only thing I try to steer clear of is food with tons of additives (I'm getting better). This is a beautiful dish!

  3. That's a very Korean influenced- but clearly Japanese cooked- style mapotofu. I can imagine my mum's making this (tho she doesn't know how). I don't grow up with mapotofu but I fell in love with the dish half a decade or so ago. I started to eat lots and lots of the authentic stuff. I, of course, have one in my site. It's one of my favourite thing to cook for someone who's Asian and love all things hot n tasty! Yum!

  4. Thanks, Peasant for visiting my blog, I too was surprised that miso went into it!

    Ann, I'm glad that you agree with me;o) I try to stay away from additives too, but I just can't resist flavored powders/bouillon.

    Pierre, I will have to take a look at your recipe :o) That would have been funny if I titled it Japanese Style, Chinese Mabo Dofu w/Korean influence...lol Yes, it's just a very comforting dish!

  5. This looks wonderful.... I grew up eating all sorts of wonderful dishes that my mom would make just like this. Still to this day if I get really sick she will come visit me yielding containers of all my childhood favorites to make me feel better.

  6. That looks so good Kay!

  7. Thanks SV! Childhood favorites are the best! That's so sweet that your mom makes all your favs when you are sick :o)

    Thanks Rosemary :o)

  8. Great recipe, i'ts looking so delicious... Thanks!

  9. Mapotofu is on of my favorite dishes. I also love how everyone has their own version of it.

    Your version looks delicious!

  10. From one *un*authentic cook to another, that looks delicious! I'll bet it tastes amazing with your homemade tofu.

  11. Wow looks amazing! I like this version with the miso in it too. Great job Kay!

  12. I think Shen likes your Mabo Dofu than mine (which is not spicy for me and kids). LOL. He always add his own spice add to my Mabo Dofu. I like how you cook with veggies and mushrooms. Shashin totemo kireidayo, Kayo!

  13. I bookmarked this immediately when I saw your post title! As I was reading on, I told myself "I MUST cook this one day!" bcoz all the ingredients are both my gals' fav esp. bunapi shrooms and napa cabbage! lol
    I've always wanted to find a great mapo tofu recipe bcoz those that I cooked previously are from using different brands of pre-packaging sauces and they're not really nice. :(
    Sometimes me too, will just throw in whatever I have/can find in the kitchen whenever I'm running outta idea what to cook and surprisingly, those dishes would turned out yummy most of the time! lol

  14. This dish looks fantastic! I love all the flavors! :)

  15. I never heard of this dish, but sure looks tempting and very flavorful! Thank you for sharing, I love your pictures very much!

  16. This looks incredibly authentic and delicious. The diverse melange of flavors is terribly exciting!

  17. There is tons of umami flavor in this! Definitely going to have to try it - and it looks pretty darn authentic to me!

  18. This is one of my most favoite dishes, I have tried several time to make this at home but it doesn't come out quite right. I am goingto make the sauce your way it sounds delicious. Love your photos and directions. Thanks!!

  19. Thanks, recette :o)

    Thanks Savory, I too love how there are so many different recipes for the same dish ;o)

    Shinae, I'm still perfecting my homemade tofu, so this had store bought;o)

    Lyn, I hope that you do make this for your girls. You can really put just about any veggie into it too. By the way, I forgot to put soy sauce into it..I didn't miss it, but I think it will add extra flavor ;o)

    Thanks, Lindsey!!

    Nami, arigato...I'm with Shen, spicy is good :o)

  20. This sounds like a tasty way to do mapo tofu!

  21. Thank you Kelly :o)

    Sandra, you can almost always get this at Chinese restaurants...of course a different version;o) I'm trying to get better with the photos, but it's a slow process, thanks!

    Viviane, thank you for your kind comment and for visiting my blog :o)

    Peggy, yes, plenty of umami ;o) Thanks!!

    Suzi, I have to admit that every time I make this dish it comes out differently...that's what I get for not using exact measurements...lol I also like to crumble the tofu into big chunks instead of precise cubes. Thank you!!

  22. Sure Kay! I'll let you know how it turns out when I cook this and tks for the lil tip! ;D

    Have a great weekend!

  23. Sounds delicious!!! Best part it is not oily as we get usually in restaurants right... Thanks for sharing.

  24. Reem, yes, you can control the oiliness unlike at a restaurant :o) Thanks!

  25. I love mabo dofu. We used to eat the package all the time when I was younger too. I recently cooked it and there wasn't enough sauce because my sister loves the sauce and tofu more than the meat. So I pretty much did what you did and threw in the things I thought would be good to stretch the sauce. Great minds think alike! :) Delicious.

    I think everyone has their certain something that they have to eat a certain way. I guess there has to be some rules but I'm pretty good on bending them when I want to in my kitchen. But Sushi rice and al dente pasta are things I can't look the other way at.

  26. Thanks Kimberly! I agree with the Sushi Rice & al Dente Pasta statement :o)