This recipe sounded far too interesting not to try. Another new spice making it’s appearance – this time Sichuan Peppercorns. Apparently not actually a peppercorn, it’s flavor can only be described as “tingly”. Yes, tingly. Combined with the spicy chili, crispy pork, and silken tofu, this dish is a delightful mix of textures and flavors. Quick too – we’re going to try to always have a package of ground pork in the freezer and some silken tofu in the fridge, as this would be a perfect I-don’t-want-to-spend-hours-cooking meal.
1 block soft tofu (about 1 pound), drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons peanut oil
6 ounces ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 leeks, thinly sliced at an angle (or a handful of scallions can be substituted)
2 1/2 tablespoons chili bean paste
1 tablespoon fermented black beans
2 teaspoons ground Sichuan pepper
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons cold water
Heat peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Add pork and stir-fry until crispy and starting to brown but not yet dry. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and leeks and stir-fry until fragrant. Add chili bean paste, black beans, and ground Sichuan pepper, and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until the oil is a rich red color.
Pour in the stock and stir well. Mix in the drained tofu gently by pushing the back of your ladle or wok scoop gently from the edges to the center of the wok or pan; don't stir or the tofu may break up. Season with the sugar, soy sauce, and salt to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing the tofu has absorb the flavors of the sauce. Then add the cornstarch mixture in 2 or 3 stages, mixing well, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. (Don't add more than you need). Serve while still hot in a deep plate or wide bowl. Garnish with optional scallions or crushed Sichuan peppercorn.