This mapo tofu ramen is made with ramen noodles that are smothered in a mouth-tingling sauce of tofu, ground pork, plenty of chiles, preserved black beans, and bean sauce. An easy and comforting mash-up of Chinese mapo tofu and Japanese ramen.
Mapo tofu ramen?! You’re correct if you’re a touch confused at the etymology of that term. It’s actually a trendy (and justifiably so) bowl of noodles that combines the ever-popular Chinese mapo tofu with Japanese ramen. Mouth tinglingly hot without being too hot, this flavor-forward dish is easier than you’d imagine to make when you’re careful to do your mise en place before you begin to cook (that’s just a fancy French way of telling you to prep and organize your ingredients).–Angie Zoobkoff
*NOTE: What Is Sansho Pepper?
Sansho (sometimes spelled sansyo) pepper, is from the prickly ash and has a tongue-numbing tingle and slightly citrusy lilt to its heat. It’s been referred to as the Japanese version of Chinese Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns (although both are actually unrelated to black peppercorns, despite their name).
Mapo Tofu Ramen | Sichuan Tofu Noodles
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 45 M
- Serves 4
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Recipe Testers Reviews
I’ve been on a ramen kick for a while, so when I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it. The recipe didn’t disappoint. The overall flavor profile was fantastic. The funkiness of the doubanjiang and preserved black beans combined with the fresh ginger, garlic, and peppers made for a great sauce. It packs a punch with the dried and fresh chile peppers and it’s a heat that lingers. The addition of ground pork made this dish a hearty delight.
I used an extra-firm tofu and it held together just fine. It was a nice compliment to the dish.
If you haven't tried Sansyo pepper, I encourage you to do so. It really added so much to the finished dish. The citrusy smell reminds me of freshly ground coriander seeds but it has a delicate flavor and a long-lasting numbing effect. I found the Sansho pepper on Amazon.
The only caution I have is go easy with the sesame oil. A little goes a long way and it can quickly overpower the dish.
This is a great intro to making mapo tofu, whether you serve it alone, over rice, or over noodles to satisfy a craving for ramen and that happy mouth experience you get with Sichuan peppers! The seasoning was perfect, although of course some folks might take it up a bit hotter by adding more dry or fresh peppers.
Your organized mise en place is your friend, prepping all ingredients—I try to place them on a quarter sheet pan next to the stove, in order if I can, so the quick cooking goes without a hitch. Once you start the recipe, it all goes quite quick and you don’t want to be scrambling to locate and measure something you missed. You could toast the peppers and grind those ahead.
I let the sauce cook just until it resembled a glossy gravy and then gently tipped in the tofu. While the tofu is heating in the sauce, if you have a pan of water already simmering, you can cook your noodles. We used rice ramen, which cook in 4 to 5 minutes, and then drained and divided them among bowls and topped them with the Mapo tofu. After plating and topping with sesame and sansho, I made cilantro available for those who wanted it (more for me!). Nice dinner, easily done on a weeknight and once you have made this once, you will not be hesitant to riff on it to adjust for what pepper you have and the heat level you like. This was a complete meal with no sides needed.
My husband and I agreed that this was one of the best recipes I have tested for Leite’s Culinaria. There was so much complexity of flavor: the nice, citrusy, menthol-like sensation of the Szechuan peppercorns and the heat from the chiles as well as the earthy sweetness of the black beans.
I was able to find everything at an Asian market here except for the sansho pepper. Instead, I substituted some togaroshi since it includes sansho pepper. I did include the anchovy filets because I’m a fan.
I recommend having every step prepped and lined up in order, because once you start cooking, things move fast. My ramen was fresh but on the thin side, which I actually preferred.
This dish is saucy and hearty and just the best. Served it with some tamarind beer and it was perfect.