Kale Mabo Tofu

by Alice Currah on May 22, 2012

I hate those days, typically Mondays, when I wake up and can intuitively tell it’s going to take a lot of coffee and self-motivational reminders that the day isn’t going to be a mirror reflection of the grey, cold, wet weather enveloping me as I go about my day.

Breathe, I tell myself, while searching for water-proof shoes as I yell for the girls to come down stairs and get into the car for school. Being sarcastic to myself I quietly look at my sandals and say to myself, “Bye bye sandals, maybe next week the sun will come out and play.”

Days like yesterday just wipe me out. With my husband out of town and 2 cups of coffee unable to revive my grumpy attitude into something a bit more positive, all I can think of is how nice it will be to turn on my fireplace, listen to some jazz music, while cuddling and reading on the couch with one of my kids in a fuzzy blanket, and redeem the day with some type of comfort food.

I thought about making the kids and me a nice corn chowder but after having a conversation with a friend the day before about mabo tofu, my mind and appetite were settled on the idea of eating this as a healthy comfort food type dinner.

Mabo tofu is a popular Japanese dish adapted from Chinese version called Mapo Doufu. This tofu dish is commonly served in different Asian cultures such as Korea and Taiwan. With varied adaptations, some people include a spicy black bean sauce, whereas others stay true to just garlic, ginger, and soy sauce.

This recipe is my own quick and easy adaptation. Oyster sauce and miso add a rich depth of unami flavor which enhances the flavor of the broth and compliments the hint of ginger. The heartiness of kale rounds out the sausage and the delicateness of the tofu making this meal a complete dinner when topped over a hot bowl of steamy brown rice. You could use white rice but I love the flavor of short grain brown rice with this one pot meal.

So if you find yourself in need of comfort food, this dinner will hit the spot and will remind you that even in dreary days, a great comfort meal can be the redemptive hero of the day.

Kale Mabu Tofu
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
An Asian inspired tofu dinner using kale, tofu, and sausage braised in a savory broth.
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 – inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ pound ground pork sausage
  • ½ pound medium firm tofu, cut in ¾-inches cubes
  • 2 tablespoons oyster flavor sauce
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Asian garlic chili sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups baby kale leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  1. Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet or wok and heat on medium-low heat.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for about half a minute, just enough to soften the garlic and for it to be aromatic.
  3. Add the pork, breaking it down with a wooden spoon, and cook until brown.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the tofu.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the oyster sauce, miso, soy sauce, and garlic chili sauce until completely mixed.
  6. Add the sauce to the skillet. Stir the pork and tofu in the sauce and cook for 2 minutes, just enough time for the sauce to coat the sausage and absorb into the meat.
  7. Stir in the chicken broth.
  8. When the broth begins to bubble in a light simmer, add the kale leaves.
  9. Stir the kale in the mabu tofu until it is barely wilted.
  10. Transfer the mabu tofu and some broth over 2 or 3 brown rice bowls.
  11. Top off with additional garlic chili sauce for more heat.
  12. Garnish with scallions.
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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn May 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm

This looks delicious! I’m always looking for one-pot dish for busy days.
Hope have a great rest of the week, it’s almost hump day.


Hannah May 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I’m so happy to discover your lovely blog! This looks like a terrific comfort dish for a chilly evening. My taste buds are tingling! I, too, had trouble motivating yesterday after waking up to grey skies. By afternoon I had no choice but to abandon my flip flops and pull on the rain boots…but I know the sun will return. Until then, we’ll enjoy some Mabo Tofu!


Rachel May 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Alice – This looks delicious! The past couple days have been like that for me, too. “Do I have to get up? Can I just lie here in bed all day?” Of course, when the boys come running into the room and jump into the bed, I know I can’t. We’ve also been having a lot of rain lately; can’t imagine rainy weather as the norm! I’d never get anything done. Hope this week goes by quickly and that you’ll continue to find inspiration and joy in the simplest things – even tofu. :)


Ann P. May 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm

These photos are so vibrant, i can almost smell the dish. it looks AMAZING. love the flavors of those ingredients, especially combined!


thelittleloaf May 23, 2012 at 8:12 am

This looks absolutely delicious. And shows that comfort food doesn’t have to be stodgy, just lots of lovely familiar flavour that brings a smile to your face :-)


Jamie | My Baking Addiction May 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

First of all – these photos are stunning, Alice! Second, I think you just convinced me to purchase some tofu. I hope the weather improves for you asap.


Roxanna May 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I too, feel the need for a cozy, one pot meal on a rainy, dreary day – something with a lot of flavour to kick out the chill. This seems like just the thing. It’s your photos that sold me – I wish things looked so pretty when I cooked!


Shells May 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I just made this tonight, and it was FABULOUS! I loved the flavor the sauce gave to the pork and tofu, and it really complimented the taste of the kale, too. Thank you so much! This recipe is a total keeper!


Yoyi (enjoywithjoy) May 28, 2012 at 10:55 pm

This might be my dinner tomorrow. I made Ma Po Tofu and my husband and I loved it. We are learning to love tofu but with kale I think it will be awesome. I don’t have miso paste, what can I substitute?


Karriann May 29, 2012 at 10:28 am

I’m not the biggest fan of tofu but this dish looks too gooood to pass! Totally fab!

“Spice it Up”


KrisandT May 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Looks delicious, must try it sometime! Please check out our gluten free blog for product reviews, recipes, and GF dining tips!!! We just established our blog for GF dining on a budget! Thankyouthankyou 


Minnie(@thelady8home) May 30, 2012 at 12:19 am

Such a delicious recipe. Everyone at home would go crazy when I get done. Thank you SO much!!!


S Banik June 1, 2012 at 8:57 am

This Kale Mabo Tofu Recipe looks very delicious. It reminds me of the Indian Recipe of Palak Paneer. Thanks a lot for posting such an informative blog article.


paper cup machines June 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm

That looks so delicious! Yum!


Abigail (aka Mamatouille) June 5, 2012 at 11:29 pm

I learned how to love and make mabo dofu when we were living in Japan–they even have it in a prepackaged foil envelope that you just squish out into a pan of pork and tofu, but I love homemade much better. (My busy Japanese teacher friends there tend to use the storebought variety.)

I like your version with the sausage and kale–will have to try it that way. I have a favorite brand of organic tofu I like from Vashon that would be perfect with this.

This June in Seattle IS a bit nuts, hey! Where’s summer?


wifemothereventplanner June 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

If I had any intention of cooking today – this is absolutely, positively, what I’d cook! I will think about this dish as I serve my family leftovers for dinner and cuddle up to a bowl of cereal.


Tofu Noodles June 11, 2012 at 3:20 am

Yummy…m looking for this kind of stuff..thanks for share !!


notlie August 23, 2012 at 6:11 am

Thanks for share. great!


Lauren September 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm

This recipe is delicious! It’s one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing!!


Natty September 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Looks really good! Can’t wait to make one of her recipes.


Jina May 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

So quick to make and satisfying. I cannot stop eating it! Thank you so much for sharing this meal.


Alice Currah May 22, 2013 at 11:34 pm

I love this recipe too Jina. Glad you liked it!


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