1tablespoongreen part of chopped green onion for garnish(optional)
steamed rice to serve with(optional)
Combine ground meat, cooking wine, soy sauce, and ginger in a bowl. Mix well.
Combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Heat vegetable oil and Sichuan peppercorns in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When the Sichuan peppercorns turn dark brown and crispy, scoop them out with spatula and transfer into a bowl layered with paper towel to soak extra oil. Save to use for garnish the dish.
When oil is hot, add ground meat and Doubanjiang. Stir-fry over medium heat with a spatula, until pork is evenly coated with Doubanjiang. Add green onion and stir fry for another minute.
Spread tofu evenly on top of ground pork (*See footnote 3). Add chili oil, five-spice powder, and sugar. Pour in water and cook until bringing to a simmer. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until tofu becomes tender and the sauce has reduced to half the original amount. Taste the tofu with some broth (be careful, it will be very hot!). Adjust seasoning by adding salt. If the dish is too spicy, add another teaspoon of sugar. Gently mix well with spatula.
Meanwhile, ground the fried Sichuan peppercorns (you used when heating up the oil) in a coffee grinder or by using mortar and pastel.
Mix cornstarch water again until fully dissolved and swirl it into the skillet. Gently stir a few times with a spatula, until sauce thickens. Turn off heat and transfer everything to a bowl.
Garnish with green onion and a small pinch the ground Sichuan peppercorns (*Footnote 4), if using. Serve warm over steamed rice or by itself as main.
You can skip the meat and make this dish a vegetarian one. In this case, I highly recommend replacing the meat with mushrooms (such as rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms) to enhance flavor.
If you like the tofu with more broth, you can braise the tofu for a shorter time and use the cornstarch slurry to thicken the broth. Alternatively, you can uncover and braise until most of the liquid evaporate. The tofu will absorb more flavor this way.
Do not stir the tofu immediately after adding it into the skillet, in order to keep the pieces from breaking apart. The tofu will get firmer after braising and you can stir it once it's cooked.
The Sichuan peppercorns add a numbing nutty aroma to the dish. The fried Sichuan peppercorns has a more roundup body so it is works great for garnishing the dish or in a salad. You only need a small around in this recipe to finish up the dish. Store the rest in an airtight container no longer than a month.