Mapo Tofu Ramen Noodle Bowl Recipe (Mabo Ramen)

Mapo Tofu Ramen is our favourite spicy noodle bowl recipe, a fusion of Japanese and Chinese flavours.

Our homemade Mabo Ramen combines spicy Sichuan sauce with tender Japanese-style wheat noodles.

We know you’ll love our quick & easy Mapo Tofu Ramen recipe featuring tofu and ground pork floating in a mouth-watering Doubanjiang Chili Bean Paste and Fermented Black Bean Garlic flavoured sauce.

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Save our homemade Mapo Tofu Ramen recipe to Pinterest!
Save our homemade Mapo Tofu Ramen recipe to Pinterest!

What Is Mapo Tofu Ramen?

Mapo Tofu is a popular Chinese dish from Sichuan province. It consists of tofu cooked in a spicy sauce, typically a thin and oily broth, flavoured with Doubanjiang Chili Bean Paste and Fermented Black Beans, along with minced meat, typically beef or pork.

Variations exist with other ingredients such as water chestnuts, onions, or wood ear mushrooms. Chinese culinary historians claim that the dish existed as early as 1254, in a suburb of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan. Other accounts indicate it originated at a Chengdu restaurant in the 1860s.

“Ma” stands for mázi, which means pockmarks. “Po” is the first syllable of pópo, which means an old woman or grandma. Hence, mapo is an old woman whose face is pockmarked. It is thus sometimes translated as “pockmarked grandma’s beancurd.”

Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish. It consists of tender wheat noodles served in a broth; common flavours are soy sauce and miso, with typical toppings including sliced pork, nori, menma, and scallions.

Mapo Tofu Ramen, also known as Mabo Ramen, is a delicious fusion of Asian cuisines. Traditional Chinese Mapo Tofu sauce is spooned over tender Japanese-style ramen noodles.

In Japan, the noodle dish was introduced and popularized by the Chinese-Japanese chef Chen Kenmin. His son, Chen Kenichi, made it more popular as it was one of his trademark dishes on the television program Iron Chef.

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Traditional Mapo Tofu Ramen recipe ingredients.
Traditional Mapo Tofu Ramen recipe ingredients.

Travel to Japan by Cooking Mabo Ramen at Home

I love traveling through Asia.

My first visit had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.

After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout southeast Asia for 6 months, visiting India, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Macau and the Maldives.

I spent 2 weeks traveling by bus and bullet train through Japan in the warm summer months. I started in Yokohama then explored TokyoKyotoNara and Osaka.

What I found most fascinating is Japan’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, each town in Japan had its own local speciality.

If you love the spicy dish Mapo Tofu we know you’ll love this simple preparation with slippery ramen noodles. It’s the perfect heart-warming comfort food bowl.

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Mabo Ramen features a spicy chili sauce featuring ground pork and tofu.
Mabo Ramen features a spicy chili sauce featuring ground pork and tofu.

Where To Eat Mapo Tofu Ramen

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Japanese restaurant that serves authentic Mapo Tofu Ramen.

Haven’t traveled to Japan before? It may be helpful to first sample Mabo Ramen at a local Japanese restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can determine if you prefer ground pork or beef, the ideal spicy heat level of the sauce and other side dishes to accompany the spicy noodle bowl.

In Toronto, Japanese restaurants in Yorkville, King West and Ossington that may serve Mapo Tofu Ramen include Sara, Fuwa Fuwa, Benihana, Hapa Izakaya, Koyoi, Kingyo, Santouka Ramen, Japango, Sushi Inn, Okonomi House and Kasa Moto.

Prepare Mapo Tofu Ramen in a large wok and serve in large bowls.
Prepare Mapo Tofu Ramen in a large wok and serve in large bowls.

My Family Loves Mabo Ramen

I love cooking traditional Asian dishes for my friends and family.

Whenever my family dine at a Japanese restaurant for dinner I order up all the sushi and my dad eats a massive plate of grilled meat like yakitori or teriyaki, all to himself.

I knew my parents would enjoy this comforting Mabo Ramen recipe as they love slippery noodles, tender tofu and umami-forward fermented sauces.

This dish is a star in the kitchen during busy weeknights as all of the ingredients can typically be found in your fridge, freezer or cupboards.

We also love to serve it when company is coming for dinner as guests can make DIY Mabo Ramen bowls using tongs for the noodles and a ladle for the spicy sauce.

Garnish Mapo Tofu Ramen with sliced scallions.
Garnish Mapo Tofu Ramen with sliced scallions.

Mapo Tofu Ramen Recipe Health Benefits

Our homemade Mapo Tofu Ramen recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

Chili has been proven to help reduce the duration of sickness, prevent heart disease, and promote weight loss. 

Pork is an excellent source of protein and provides several important vitamins and minerals. It’s an excellent source of thiamin, selenium, niacin, vitamin B-6 and phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin and potassium.

A useful source of copper, calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, sesame seeds help support circulatory, digestive and skeletal health.

Scallions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.

Ginger contains at least 14 phytochemicals, many of which have impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a good source of copper, which supports your bones, blood and nervous system. 

Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese and phosphorous.

Mapo Tofu Ramen "Mabo Ramen" Photo Image.
Mapo Tofu Ramen “Mabo Ramen” Photo Image.

Mabo Ramen Recipe Cooking Tips

This yummy homemade Mabo Ramen recipe is quick and easy to make at home.

  • We suggest preparing the Mapo Tofu sauce in a large wok to avoid splatter on the stove when cooking.
  • We typically use ground pork in this recipe but you can substitute with minced beef or chicken if you prefer.
  • You can purchase Doubanjiang, Black Bean Garlic Sauce, Chinese Rice Wine and fresh ramen at an Asian grocer or online.
  • If you like spicy food feel free to add additional dried chilies or serve hot sauce at the table.
  • We’ve garnished the mapo tofu ramen bowls with sliced scallions but you can also top with crispy fried shallots.
Mapo Tofu Ramen is our favourite Japanese noodle bowl.
Mapo Tofu Ramen is our favourite Japanese noodle bowl.

What To Serve with Mapo Tofu Ramen

We love serving this homemade Mapo Tofu Ramen recipe as a main course at a Japanese-inspired lunch or dinner.

If you’re serving a more substantial meal you might like to serve fresh salads or soups like Chinese Cucumber Salad or Chinese Ginger Garlic Soup.

If you’re hosting a Japanese potluck or buffet you might want to serve Mabo Ramen with:

Serve Mabo Ramen with chopsticks and a spoon to slurp the sauce.
Serve Mabo Ramen with chopsticks and a spoon to slurp the sauce.

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Now you're an expert on how to make homemade Mapo Tofu Ramen!
Now you’re an expert on how to make homemade Mapo Tofu Ramen!

How To Make Homemade Mapo Tofu Ramen (Video Recipe)

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5 from 1 vote

Mapo Tofu Ramen

How to make Japanese Mapo Tofu Ramen. Our easy Mabo Ramen" recipe features spicy ground pork, black bean sauce, tofu and fresh noodles.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Mapo Tofu Ramen
Servings: 4
Calories: 1297kcal


  • French knife
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Wok
  • Mixing bowls
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon
  • Large pot


  • 3 tbsp Canola Oil
  • 4 Dried Red Chilies
  • 1/2 lb Ground Pork
  • 3 tbsp Chinese Rice Wine
  • 2 tbsp Black Bean Garlic Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Doubanjiang Chinese Chili Bean Paste
  • 2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp White Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan Pepper
  • 2 Scallions whites and greens separated, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 tsp Ginger minced
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 lb Medium Firm Tofu drained, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tbsp Cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water
  • Kosher Salt
  • 32 oz Fresh Ramen


  • Heat a wok or saucepan over low heat. Add canola oil and dried red chilies. Stir occasionally and heat until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Once cool remove toasted chilies and store in a small dish to use later.
  • In a small bowl, combine the pork, Chinese rice wine and break it apart as much as possible with a large spoon. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
  • In a glass measuring cup, add the black bean garlic sauce, doubanjiang, soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, Sichuan pepper, and sesame oil. Mix to combine then set aside.
  • Heat the wok over high heat. Add the pork to the remaining canola oil and stir fry, breaking up the meat with a spatula, until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium then add the scallion whites, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds.
  • Add the black bean mixture and chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the tofu cubes. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cups water and stir into the broth. Add reserved toasted red chili then allow the broth to thicken and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the ramen noodles according to package instructions. Drain and divide the ramen into bowls.
  • Season the mapo tofu with more salt if needed. Ladle the broth and tofu over the ramen and garnish with scallion greens.


Calories: 1297kcal | Carbohydrates: 146.7g | Protein: 47.8g | Fat: 54.2g | Saturated Fat: 20.9g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 6197mg | Potassium: 411mg | Fiber: 6.6g | Sugar: 7.8g | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 10mg

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