- 1 tsp. cooking oil
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 package of firm tofu
- 1.5 tsps. tobanjan
- 1.5 tsps. Chinese chili oil (optional)
- 3 tbs. soy sauce
- 1 tbs. Mirin
- 1 tbs. cooking sake
- 1 tbs. corn starch
- 1.5 cups water
First, coat the pan with cooking oil (olive, vegetable, whatever strikes your fancy) and add the ground pork. You’ll want to break the meat down into small pieces as it browns. Keep the heat low and continue to flip/stir and chop as the meat browns. Once browned, drain off the excess fat.
Return the meat to the burner and add the tobanjan. Tobanjan is the primary flavoring ingredient. I highly recommend the Youki brand (pictured in the link) which you can get at Maido. It’s a Japanese brand that I haven’t seen it anywhere else. There are a number of other brands available at other Asian markets. Spice lovers or the generally adventurous should then add Chinese chili oil to add to the heat.
Stir in the spices and add the soy sauce, mirin, cooking sake. Add the water and increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Cut the tofu into cubes and add it to the boiling mixture. Spoon the sauce over the tofu to make sure that all of it absorbs the spices. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix equal parts cornstarch and water in a measuring cup. Pour evenly over the mixture. Continue simmering and stirring occasionally for 5 additional minutes. If you have it, you can sprinkle a bit (1/4 tsp or so) of sesame oil into the mix as well. Now your mabo tofu is ready to serve. I recommend spooning it over rice on a bed of red leaf lettuce.
Not only is it delightfully spicy, but mabo tofu is also an incredibly versatile dish. Feel free to experiment with your other favorite hot sauces. If you’re feeling a bit health conscious, this recipe can also serve as a basis for mabo nasu, which adds eggplant and other vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, etc.) without losing the heat.