- ½ cup oil (divided)
- 1-2 fresh Thai bird chili peppers (thinly sliced)
- 6-8 dried thai chilli (roughly chopped)
- 1/2- 1 1/2 tablespoons sichuan peppercorn (powdered or finely ground, reserving 1/4 teaspoon for garnish at the end; if you want a milder flavor use 1/2 or 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn)
- 3 tablespoons gigner (finely minced)
- 3 tablespoons garlic (finely minced)
- 8 ounces ground pork (225g)
- 1-2 tablespoons bean sauce / chili bean sauce
- 2/3 cup chicken broth (or water with broth powder)
- 1 pound soft tofu (450g, cut into 1 inch cubes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine tapioca starch
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1 scallion (finely chopped)
First, we toast the chilies. If you have homemade toasted chili oil, you can skip this step. Heat your wok or a small saucepan over low heat. Add ¼ cup of the oil and throw in the fresh and dried peppers. Stir occasionally and heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes, ensuring that the peppers don’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in your wok over medium heat. Add the ginger. After 1 minute, add the garlic. Fry for another minute, and then turn up the heat to high and add the ground pork. Break up the meat and fry it until it’s cooked through. Add your ground Sichuan peppercorns and stir for about 15-30 seconds, taking care to not let it burn, as it will turn bitter if it does.
Add the spicy bean sauce to the mixture and stir it in well. Add ⅔ cups of chicken broth to the wok and stir. Let this simmer for a minute or so. While that's happening, ready your tofu and also put a ¼ cup of water in a small bowl with your cornstarch and mix until thoroughly combined.
Add the cornstarch mixture to your sauce and stir. Let it bubble away until the sauce starts to thicken. (If it gets too thick, splash in a little more water or chicken stock.)
Then add your chili oil from before—peppers and all! If you are using homemade chili oil, ONLY use the standing oil, as it's likely that you have salted it and you only want the oil, not additional salt. Stir the oil into the sauce, and add the tofu. Use your spatula to gently toss the tofu in the sauce. Let everything cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the sesame oil and sugar (if using) along with the scallions and stir until the scallions are just wilted.
Serve with a last sprinkle of Sichuan peppercorn powder as a garnish if desired.