1. Toast and grind your Sichuan peppercorns. This is going to be on medium-low heat for a couple minutes (dry pan, no oil of course). You’ll know it’s done once the Sichuan peppercorns are aromatic and leave little oil specks in the wok, as shown here in the video. This is gunna really heighten the flavor and numbingness of the peppercorns. Grind those up in a morter-and-pestle or a coffee grinder. If you have neither of those things you can also be a hobo, put them in a plastic bag, and pound em with a hammer (I spent an embarrassingly long quantity of my life doing that).
2. Cut and simmer your tofu. Cut your tofu into small cubes, about a half inch. Then toss your tofu cubes in a pot of salted water (we used 2 tsp of salt in that smaller pot) that’s barely simmering. This does three things: first, the salt water gets out some moisture from the tofu and firms it up. Second, it’ll get out the so-called ‘grassy’ taste from the tofu; and third, it’ll slightly season the tofu. Simmer that for 2-3 minutes, then take the pot off the heat but continue to soak the tofu til we’re ready to use it.
3. Fry your mince. This is going to be the reguoliangyou (hot pot, cool oil) method, which gives you the chance to break up the mince with your spatula. Fry for a couple minutes on medium high heat.
4. Fry your chili bean paste. Add your chili bean paste in with your mince, frying on medium heat. As this cooks, the chili bean paste is going to create the hongyou by infusing the oil - that characteristic red oil in Sichuan cooking. Note that unlike some other recipes, we’re not going to need to add any chili oil at the end – all of the red oil is going to be from the Chili bean paste. Move on to the next step once your oil looks something like this, which was about two to three minutes for us.
5. Fry your minced garlic and your chili powder. Add these ingredients and fry it for about a minute.
6. Add the stock, season, and start to simmer. Add in your stock (or “stock” in our case), the soy sauce, the Shaoxing cooking wine (??), and the sugar. Taste it – it should feel slightly undersalted at this juncture. Allow it to simmer for a couple minutes before we add in the tofu.
7. Drain your tofu, then add it to your pot. Make sure you’re not getting any extra water in there.
8. Let the tofu simmer in the liquid as it’s reducing. Bring the heat back up to medium-high to get a hefty simmer going on (basically a small boil). Stir the tofu by gently pushing it back and forth with your spatula. At about the 3 minute mark, the liquid should start to be boiling away rapidly and starting to resemble a thin sauce. For ours, we timed it to be 3 and a half minutes in this step.
9. Season the sauce, then thicken it up with your slurry. Remember our toasted-and-ground Sichuan peppercorns from earlier? This is where we’re gunna add them in. If you do it too early you’ll end up with this brackish-black colored sauce instead of the red-oil that we’re looking for. It’ll be plenty numbing I promise. Also add in that half teaspoon of dark vinegar, stir and cook for about 30 seconds. Hit it with your slurry (1tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 TBSP water) to thicken, and turn off the heat.
10. Stir in some sesame oil, then put in a plate and garnish. Make sure you get all that red-oil-deliciousness out from the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle some green onion slices (or cilantro) for maximum prettiness.
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|Serving Size: 1 Serving (106g)|
|Recipe Makes: 4 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 30 (54%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 3.3g||4 %|
|Saturated Fat 0.6g||3 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 1.4g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 1.1g|
|Cholesterol 2.7mg||1 %|
|Sodium 455.8mg||16 %|
|Potassium 96.2mg||3 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 3.6g||1 %|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0 %|
|Sugars, other 3.6g|
|Protein 2.3g||3 %|
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Calories per serving: 56
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