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Mabo Tofu

Rich flavored with Japanese miso


Classic-style donabe (medium)




  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 knob ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon total)
  • 6 to 8 oz (180 to 240 g) ground pork
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese hot bean paste ("doubanjiang")
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Hatcho miso (can substitute with red miso)
  • 1 tablespoon red miso
  • 1 teaspoon raw brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sake
  • 1 cup (240 ml) Japanese chicken stock ("tori dashi") (can substitute with instant Asian chicken stock)
  • 2 packages medium-firm or soft tofu (28-ounce/800 g total), drained of excess moisture and cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • a pinch of salt, if necessary
  • ½ tablespoon potato starch ("katakuriko")
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • some minced scallion
  • ground sansho (mountain pepper)


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in the donabe over medium-heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  2. Add the pork and continue to sauté until the meat becomes crumbly and almost cooked through.
  3. Push the meat to one side and add the doubanjiang paste to the open side of the donabe. Stir the dobanjan until fragrant before stirring together with the meat.
  4. Add both kinds of the miso and sugar, and stir until the ingredients are well blended with the meat. 
  5. Deglaze with the Chinese rice wine, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the stock and tofu. Increase the heat to medium-high. As soon as the stock starts to boil, turn down the heat to medium-low. Cover with lid, and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Add the soy sauce and ground pepper. Stir and coarsely break the tofu with a spatula. Adjust the seasoning with a pinch of salt, if necessary.

    Coarsely break the tofu cubes with a wooden spatula for even smoother texture near the end.

  7. In a small cup, dissolve the potato starch in water, and drizzle into the donabe. Stir gently.
  8. Turn off the heat and sprinkle some minced scallion and sansho pepper. Serve immediately.
  • Hatcho miso is extra dark and gives additional rich flavor to the dish. But, if you don’t have it, you can make it only with red miso.
  • This dish is traditionally served with plain rice. You can even pour Mabo Tofu over the rice to make a rice bowl dish. (It’s called "Mabo Don".)

About the measurements used in our recipes

For rice measurement, traditional Japanese rice measurement is used.
1 rice-cup = 3/4 US cup = 180 ml
Other conversions (US to metric measures)
1 cup = 240 ml
1 inch (1") = 2.5 cm
1 ounce (1 oz) = 30 ml