This Mapo Tofu-Inspired Ramen Brings the Heat
Our last episode of Chefs at Home wraps this week with another next-level bowl of ramen from Josh Reisner—and this time, it's inspired by mapo tofu, the wonderfully tongue-numbing Sichuan dish. Reisner explains that he came up with the idea because mapo tofu and miso ramen are both cooked in a wok, and this recipe combines them into one dish.
"It's gonna be hot, it's gonna be really, really red, and it's gonna be amazing," he says.
Called Mapo Tofu- and "Wok-Style"-Inspired Ramen, the recipe features the Golden Assari Chicken Chintan Stock he made in the first of his three episodes, which also bolsters his recipe for Chicken Adobo-Inspired Ramen. It's also packed with both tofu and chicken for a hearty, satisfying meal, and definitely has a kick thanks to Sichuan peppercorns, toban djan (spicy bean paste), and chile oil. With a few more weeks of winter left, it's the perfect dish to warm you from the inside out.
To make it, read on for Reisner's step-by-step method and follow along with the video above.
Prep Your Ingredients
Before you start on the ramen, poach the chicken breasts and cut them into cubes roughly the same size as the tofu. Quickly cook the mung bean sprouts and spinach as well, and set them aside—they'll be part of the garnish for the final dish.
You'll also need a mortar and pestle to grind the red Sichuan peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves, and star anise. Make sure to stick to a coarse grind, as you don't want a powdery consistency.
Grab a Big Pot
Once everything's prepped, heat up a large pot and add the chicken fat—as with the Chicken Adobo-Inspired Ramen, this recipe instructs you to quickly infuse it with onions before using. Once the fat shimmers, add the sliced garlic to the pot. When it's translucent, add the chopped long green pepper and cook the mixture until it's aromatic. The spices go in next, followed by the toban djan and fermented black bean paste once the garlic begins to turn golden brown.
When the mixture becomes fragrant, add the sugar, stir until it dissolves, and add the Shaoxing wine to deglaze the pot. You'll want to cook out the alcohol until you can no longer smell it. Finally, stir in the chile oil and soy sauce, and add the star ingredients—the tofu and poached chicken. Fold them in so they're coated in that beautiful, deep red sauce.
Add the Stock
Here's where the Golden Assari Chicken Chintan Stock stock comes in. Stir it into the pot and let it cook for a few minutes until it's heated through. In the meantime, make a quick cornstarch slurry using cornstarch and water, and incorporate small amounts of it into the mapo tofu until you're happy with the consistency.
Assemble and Enjoy
Quickly cook the noodles and then get ready to build. that. ramen. Grab a slotted spoon and transfer the tofu and chicken to a bowl; divide the mapo tofu broth between serving bowls. Add the noodles next, picking them up and folding them so they're neatly arranged. Then add the chicken and tofu. For garnish, top the bowls with the bean sprouts, spinach, and scallions. Finish everything off with the remaining spice blend and a small spoonful of chile oil.
"Whoa," Reisner says after trying a bowl. "Wow, you get the black bean instantly. Then you get the toban djan. Then you get all that Sichuan pepper and then that sugar balances everything out. The noodles, coated perfectly with the slurry. Damn. That's pretty good."