Make Tim Anderson’s mapo ramen Sichuan-spiced tofu noodles
This recipe from Tim Anderson's latest cookbook Tokyo Stories is a fiery Japanese take on the traditional Chinese dish of mapo tofu
Preparation time 45 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour
- 600-700g firm or extra firm silken tofu
- Big pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp Sichuan pepper
- 4 dried red Chinese chillies
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
- 1 bird's eye chilli (or more, to taste), finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 15g piece of ginger root, peeled and finely shredded
- 300g minced pork
- 1 tbsp preserved black beans
- 80g doubanjiang (chilli bean sauce)
- 1½ tablespoons caster sugar
- 500ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1½ tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with a little water
- Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce, to taste
- 4 portions thick ramen noodles
- Small handful of coriander, roughly torn
- Sesame seeds, toasted until deep golden brown
- Plenty of sansho pepper
- Cut the tofu into 2.5cm cubes and bring the water to a low simmer along with the salt.
- Carefully add the tofu to the salted water and poach for 10 minutes. Remove gently with a slotted spoon.
- Toast the Sichuan pepper and dried chillies in a dry frying pan until aromatic and beginning to colour, then leave to cool and grind to a coarse powder.
- Add the oil to the pan and place over a high heat, then add the anchovies, if using, and the bird’s eye chilli. Fry for a minute or two, then add the garlic, ginger and pork and fry until the pork is browned.
- Add the black beans, doubanjiang, sugar and the ground Sichuan pepper and chillies. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, so the flavours meld.
- Add the chicken stock and sesame oil and bring to the boil, then stir in some (not all) of the cornflour-water mixture.
- Let the sauce boil for a few minutes to thicken, stirring continuously; add more cornflour slurry if you want it thicker (it should be quite thick so it clings well to the noodles).
- Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with Worcestershire and/or soy sauces.
- Gently stir in the tofu, using a pushing motion with the back of your spatula and shaking the pan to coat the tofu without breaking it up.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the noodles until al dente. Drain well, then transfer to 4 bowls. Top with the hot tofu mixture and garnish with the coriander, sesame seeds and sansho.
From Tokyo Stories by Tim Anderson; photography by Nassima Rothacker. Published by Hardie Grant.