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Mapa dubu is a korean take on the famous chinese dish mapo tofu. It uses staples from a korean cupboard — doenjang (fermented bean paste like miso), gochujang (sweet tangy chili paste), gochugaru (chili flakes) — instead of szechuan peppercorns, fermented black beans and doubanjiang (chili bean paste). It’s also just a teensy bit easier to put together, I think, than mapo tofu and just as tasty, but in a totally yummy korean way. If you’ve never had it before, this will taste spicy, tangy, rich and just a little sweet.

Don’t worry boys and girls–My veganized version of chinese mapo tofu is coming soon!

So I planned on making some mapa dubu today. I love love love spicy food. But once I got started I wasn’t feeling the rice making. Sure it’s easy to make rice but I don’t know, I just wasn’t in the mood for rinsing, rinsing, rinsing–SNORE–today… I thought I would try it with some ramen.

You can do this two ways: With a lot of broth to make a ramen soup dish, or with hardly any broth to make a drier noodle dish. I opted for the soup, but simply leave out most of the vegetable stock to make straight up noodle dish.

Makes 2 large bowls of ramen
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon gochugaru, 고추가루, Korean red chili pepper flakes
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (I recommend Korean SHIN style for soups)
1 tablespoon doenjang, 된장, Korean fermented soybean paste
1/2 tablespoon gochujang, 고추장, Korean red chili pepper paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 2 tablespoons water)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1-2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/2 white onion chopped
1/2 red pepper, green pepper, carrot chopped (optional)
2-3 green onions sliced for garnish
1 package soft tofu
2 portions dried ramen noodles (or noodles of your choice)
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable broth

1) Heat up 2 tbs vegetable or light sesame oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan. (I like to mix the two). Add in the white onion, mushroom, garlic, ginger, and other vegetables if using. Add a turn or two of salt and stir fry on medium to medium low heat till cooked down.
2) Gently strain the block of soft tofu and then gently cut it into square pieces. One of the tricks with mapo tofu is keeping the soft tofu in nice square pieces without it crumbling. I have read that you can fill a bowl with salted warm water and soak the tofu for a minute and this helps it stay together. When cut, set the tofu aside and go back to the sauce.
3) Add in the gochugaru, gochujang and doenjang and stir fry another minute. Then add the vegetable broth, sugar, soy sauce and corn starch. Cook on medium to medium low heat for about 5 minutes.
4) Carefully add in the soft tofu pieces. Stir gently to combine and cook in the soup so that the fragile tofu doesn’t break apart too much.
5) Par boil the ramen noodles in a bit of salted water and then finish cooking in the mapa dubu broth with the tofu.
6) Portion into two bowls (or more if you want smaller portions) and top with green onion or scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil.