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Ching-He Huang's kung po tofu
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"This is a great Sichuan dish that was invented by Ding Baozhen, the dearly loved governor of Sichuan in the nineteenth century. Its numbing, spicy sweet and tangy flavours are delicious with crispy fried tofu or, if you like meat, fry seasoned chicken strips first, then follow the rest of the steps. Also, if you’d prefer a healthier alternative to fried tofu, use smoked firm tofu instead." - Ching-He Huang
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 whole dried chillies
200g fried tofu, cut into 2cm cubes
1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 small red pepper, deseeded and chopped into small chunks
Handful of dry roasted peanuts or cashew nuts
2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
For the sauce:
100ml cold vegetable stock
1 tablespoon low-sodium light soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon Chinkiang black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sriracha chilli sauce or good chilli sauce
1 tablespoon cornflour
1. Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a small glass jug, then set aside.
2. Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking and add the rapeseed oil. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chillies and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the tofu cubes and stir-fry for 1 minute until the tofu is seared at the edges. Add the Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry, then the red pepper and cook for just under 30 seconds.
3. Give the sauce a quick stir, then pour into the wok and bring to the boil. When the sauce has reduced and is thicker and slightly sticky, add the peanuts or cashew nuts, followed by the spring onions and cook for 1 minute. Stir to mix everything together well, then transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.
This recipe was first published in January 2019.