1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
380g (13.4 oz) soft tofu
4 tbsp vegetable oil
100g (3.5 oz) pork mince
2 tbsp douban jiang*
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 2 tsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp finely sliced spring onion (scallions)
steamed rice to serve
Heat the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Then use a mortar and pestle to grind to a fine powder. Set aside for later.
To prepare the tofu, carefully cut open the packet, drain away the liquid and tip the tofu out onto a cutting board. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes.
Heat a saucepan of water over high heat. When the water is at a gentle simmer (don’t rapidly boil the water or the tofu might break up), add a generous couple of pinches of salt. Then carefully add the tofu pieces. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes then turn the heat off and allow the tofu to steep in the hot, salty water.
In a wok or large frying pan over high heat, add the oil. Then add the pork mince and cook, breaking up the meat for 2-3 minutes. Then add the douban jiang and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Then stir through the garlic, ginger and chilli powder. Stir-fry for half a minute. Then add the chicken stock, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat down to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter and is starting to thicken. Stir through the cornflour mixture. Now add the Sichuan peppercorn powder. Taste and season with extra salt or soy sauce if needed.
Now use a slotted spoon to drain the tofu and add it to the pork mixture. Drizzle over the sesame oil and gently toss. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with spring onions. Serve with steamed rice.
– Douban jiang is a spicy fermented chilli bean paste. Find it at your Asian grocery store.