Recipe: Japanese-Style Mabo Dofu (Tofu with Spicy Miso Pork Sauce)

You may already have read my recent review of The Japanese Larder by chef, food writer and supperclub host Luiz Hara.

The publishers have kindly given permission to share three great recipes from the book with you. The first, for crispy and deeply savoury Marmite Chicken, is already up. Here’s Luiz’ Japanese-style mabo dofu. And the third, Yuzu Cream, Rhubarb and Pistachio Crumble is coming soon.

Japanese-style Mabo Dofu Recipe from The Japanese Larder by Luiz Hara | Bringing Japanese Ingredients Into Your Everyday Cooking

Japanese-Style Mabo Dofu (Tofu with Spicy Miso Pork Sauce)

Japanese-style Mapo Dofu is gentler, sweeter and less spicy than the Sichuanese original. It is highly flavoursome due to the addition of miso and tobanjan, and with the pork mince, it is akin to a rich ragout but with none of the hassle. Tobanjan is fermented chilli bean paste made from broad and soybeans hailing from Sichuan Province in China, but it is used extensively in Japan. As with any stir-fry, make sure all the ingredients are prepared before you start cooking. Pre-cooking the tofu before stir-frying is a technique that helps firm up the tofu and prevent it from breaking up as it is fried. Japanese-style mapo dofu is a 20-minute recipe, ideal for a mid-week meal, and is great comfort food too. The perfect accompaniment for Mapo Dofu is steamed short-grain white rice but you could serve it with baked potatoes, fried aubergine (eggplants) or even bread.
Servings 4
Author Luiz Hara


For the sauce

  • 75 g (2¾oz) brown miso
  • 75 g (2¾oz) tobanjan chilli bean paste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp mirin, or 2 tbsp sugar dissolved in 2 tbsp water
  • 125 ml (4fl oz / ½ cup) water
  • 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

For the mapo dofu

  • 500 g (1lb 2oz) firm tofu (or silken if you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cm (¾-inch piece) root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 250 g 9oz minced (ground) pork
  • 100 g (3½oz) bamboo shoots, cubed (optional)

To garnish

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds
  • generous pinch of shichimi pepper or hot chilli (dried red pepper) flakes


  • Start by making the sauce. Place all the sauce ingredients in a bowl, mix well and set aside.
  • Cut the tofu into 2cm (¾-inch) cubes, place in a pan of boiling water over a medium heat, and when the cubes come up to the surface, remove them from the pan and drain over a colander for a few minutes. This will prevent the tofu from breaking up as it stir-fries.
  • When you are ready to cook, heat the sunflower oil in a wok until smoking hot, add the garlic, ginger and chilli and stir-fry for a few seconds until fragrant but not burnt. Add the pork and cook, stirring constantly, until it is no longer pink.
  • Add the bamboo shoots, if using, and stir-fry for another minute, then add the sauce and cook on a gentle heat for about 3 minutes, stirring from time to time. Finally add the tofu, gently mixing, and let it warm through for a couple of minutes.
  • . Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with the sesame seed oil, and scatter over the spring onions (scallions), white sesame seeds and shichimi pepper or hot chilli (dried red pepper) flakes. Serve immediately.

If you decide to buy this book after reading our content, please consider clicking through our affiliate link, located within the post and in the footnote at the end.

Kavey Eats received a review copy of The Japanese Larder by Luiz Hara. Published by Jacqui Small (Quarto Books), RRP £26. 

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15 Comments to "Recipe: Japanese-Style Mabo Dofu (Tofu with Spicy Miso Pork Sauce)"

  1. Michelle

    Gosh, this looks so good! Perfect comfort food. Great tip about cooking the tofu first too, there’s nothing worse than crumbly tofu! Will have to check out Luiz’ book, it sounds fab.

  2. Cat

    I don’t tend to cook much Japanese food which is a shame. Thank you for sharing this recipe from a great sounding book!

  3. Mandy

    This sounds really nice. I don’t eat pork but I think this could easily be substituted. The book sounds great – will check it out.

  4. Helen

    Whoa! Marmite Chicken? That sounds incredible – I love reading about your love of Japanese food. I really need to look more into their cuisine as it always looks so appealing and fresh.


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