IMBB27 Mabo Tofu

mabo tofu

The generally accepted western taxonomy is that it’s from the slaying of beasties that comes the protein and from plants comes things other. Did you know that Genesis and the whole garden of Eden thing was whinge in metaphor (and if you thought it was all true, well I’m sorry) for the replacement of the life of hunting for the agricultural one? Yeah thanks a frick’n lot ladies. Sometimes it gets me in such a funk that not even my 18″ pepper grinder can cheer me up. Heaping ambiguity upon indignity was tofu. Tofu is all gathery yet proteiny. The result was to treat it as an unsatisfactory and frowned upon alternative to the real thing [see hands, sins of]. And, where’s this going? Ahm look dudes it’s OK because beef and tofu can be friends.

Mabo tofu or “spicy tofu” is a Japanese Chinese fave and is usually not spicey at all with more efforts usually going towards getting the saice all gelatinous. In short, it is spag bol on tofu.

Tofu tends to have a tenuous grasp on it’s own constitution and will scramble if not properly firmed up. The first thing you should do is sit it on a slightly inclined chopping board with another weighted chopping board on top to remove extra moisture. You can then blanch it for a minute or, as I did, pop it in the tucker fucker for 90 seconds. Dice into dice sized dices with a dicer (or a knife).

A very large clove of garlic and a similar amount of ginger finely grated along with a finely chopped chilli and the chopped white ends of several spring onions. Quickly sauteed in peanut oil in a wok to get the flavours going. Mix in 300gm of beef mince that’s had a heaped tablespoon of miso paste, a tablespoon of toubanjan (spicey bean paste), and a tablespoon of sesame oil mixed into it. If you’re not big into the miso just buy a packet of instant, there should be a little tube of miso in there that you can use. For a bit of variety I added some finely chopped bamboo shoot and field mushrooms (shiitake would also be nice). Have a look below and notice that my mise skills have gone to pot (it’s adorable isn’t it? teapot and cup all in one).

mabotofu ingredients

Stir fry until cooked and then add a cup of beef stock with a teaspoon of cornstarch or potato starch mixed into it. Add the tofu and heat through while reducing the stock.

Garnish. It’s good. Grrr.

Congrats and thanks to long-timer Reid for being the host of IMBB



  1. Santos’s avatar

    ay, quelle adorable, is that. punchy entry, i like.

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    so it is.

    Ohhhh no it isn’t!

  3. Gracianne’s avatar

    Uhmmm, I love Ma Puo Tofu, I had no idea you could make it Japanese too. Those I had in Taiwan and China were very spicy, it must be a Sichuanese dish originally. Yours is very tempting.

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    Yes it’s been Japanified and unfortunately in this case it means it’s usually quite bland (they’re not usually for the spicy). Not in a subtle way but more a mince at school dinner thing. I usually went for the fried rice and gyouza.

  5. Anthony’s avatar

    Lest anyone be discouraged, mine’s rather tasty and you can go nuts on the the chilli if you like.

  6. Reid’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    Thanks for playing along! This wasn’t a very successful event, no doubt because I’m such a terrible host. I’ll be stopping in Tokyo on my way to Singapore in two months. Got any recommendations?

    BTW…this mabo tofu sounds great. I usually only have it the Chinese way and must try this sometime, but I like spicy, so that means lots of chillies!

  7. Anthony’s avatar

    Hey Reid

    You’re welcome, haven’t done IMBB for a while. Couldn’t imagine a more gracious host than yourself (well actually Viv is pretty gracious and Gracianne is probably French for gracious) but blog events are a funny thing and soy is still pretty edgy for most folks. Maybe you can harness the forces of vegetarianism that live in the dank lands of Engerland.

    Tokyo. Eat and shop and eat and shop. Harajuku, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro are my faves but let me know how long you’re there for.

    I think it’d be nice with a scary slick of red chilli oil running through it

  8. teddlesruss’s avatar

    Well, numero uno: Happy Birthday sorry I’m late with it.

    Nummer zwei: ceramic knives ROXXOR for vegies – very thin slices possible – and yeah they don’t care if your finger or fingernail are in the way… But an excellent utility knife to have around. Mine also gets to slice cacciatiore nice and thin for my lunch… Damn excellent for anything where you need thin slices.

    Anyway – sounds like an excellent birthday bash too. many happy belated returns!

  9. Barbara’s avatar

    Belated birthday greetings Anthony. Looks like it was a fun party.

  10. neil’s avatar

    Yeah, Happy Birthday from me too. But what I’m dying to ask and scared to get the answer to, is what do you do with an 18″ pepper grinder that makes you happy?

  11. Anthony’s avatar

    Hi Ted
    No worries I think I’ll just let it run through to the end of the month.
    Yeah nice and light an nimble but with a decent sized blade. And ROXXOR!!

    Many thanks, it was fun. I just got the video of bits of it last night.

    I bask in its projection.

  12. Kate’s avatar

    You know, even though I’m not a vegetarian I usually don’t consider using tofu with meat, it’s kinda like I’m cheating on the vegetarianism of it, or something? Right? Or not?

    Also I did some research on ceramic knives and have seen a ceramic madolin julienne-er thingy I would like to have:

    ‘Cause I hate julienne-ing vegies with a knife. And I am attrached to the space age coolness of the ceramic blade.

  13. Anthony’s avatar

    Not cheating at all Kate. In this way you can be both a vegetarian and a meat eater, the two balance eachother nicely. Think of it as Johnny Depp as a pirate, your arrrrrr heaped on a generous serving of goodness.

    The ceramic mandolin is very flash although I’m scared to crikey about mandolins so I tend to use a knife.

  14. Vic’s avatar

    Hi… totally unrelated to the tofu sorry…But wondering your thoughts
    Triple J yesterday they mentioned to make perfect poached eggs you line a cup with glad wrap crack the egg into the cup, tie the glad wrap and create a pouch and then put into the simmering water for 6 min…
    I might attempt an experiment, but it just seems unbalanced method

  15. Anthony’s avatar

    Hi Vic
    No worries at all.
    Could work but where’s the mastery?
    Bah ! Yoof radio these days. In my day we had to hatch our own eggs.

    Gordon Ramsey explained the whirlpool method where you create a vortex in the simmering water and the velocity creates the round shape, much like a raindrop. He then refreshes the egg in ice cold water to get a hard ball with a runny centre. The vortex takes a bit of practice to coordinate stirring hand and eggy hand. Don’t worry about perfect, chefs often cheat and trim the egdges of poached eggs.

  16. teddlesruss’s avatar

    Hmm love that ceramic mandoline now I have to justify it to Ms Trish, then find one locally. Then find the money, but that’s a renewable resource.

    Poached eggs I listened to that show Thursday and decided that I prefer my poached eggs without the taste of gladwrap, we don’t even bother with the swirly method here we actually drop the heat waayyyy down, wait for the convection to slow down and then do four eggs to the pan. and yep trimming is often invoked…

  17. Anthony’s avatar

    Mountains of coleslaw in minutes Ted!

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