1 block of extra firm tofu ( about one pound )
4 baby leeks or 2 regular leeks ( scallions can also be used )
1/2 cup of peanut oil
6 ounces of ground beef ( or turkey )
2 1/2 chili bean paste ( can buy at a local chinese market )
1 tablespoon of fermented black beans
2 teaspoons of ground sichuanese chiles
1 cup of stock ( preferably chicken or beef )
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
a pinch of salt to taste
4 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons of cold water
1. Cut the tofu into 1 -inch cubes and leave to sit in very hot water that you have lightly salted. Slice the leeks into steep angle into "horse ear" slices 1 to 1 1/2 inches long.
2. Season a wok, then add peanut oil and cook over high heat until it is crispy and a little brown, but not yet dry.
3. Turn the heat down to medium, add the chili bean paste and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until the oil is a rich red color. Add the fermented black beans and ground chiles and stir-fry for another 20-30 seconds until they are both fragrant and the chiles have added their color to the oil.
4. pour in the stock, stir well, and add the drained tofu. Mix it in gently by pushing the back of your ladle or wok scoop gently from the edges to the center of the wok---do not stir or the tofu may break up. Season with the sugar, a couple of teaspoons of soy sauce and a pinch of salt to taste. simmer for about five minutes, until the tofu has absorbed the flavors of the sauce.
5. Add the leeks or scallions and gently stir in. When they are just cooked, add cornstarch in two to three stages, mixing well, until the sauce has thickened enough to cling glossily to the meat and tofu. Don't add more than you need. Finally, pour everything into a deep bowl, and serve.
by Jen Wheeler | At Christmas time, there are cookies galore, but true dessert lovers still crave something more substantial...