Sichuan chili bean paste is my most used condiment in the fridge these days. Made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and spices, doubanjiang is spicy, salty and packs a punch — a delicious, warming punch. It’s perfect stir-fried with all manner of ingredients (seriously). It’s essential in this easy, warming dish of tofu and a healthy amount of alliums. Add a bowl of rice and you’re all set.
1 block of firm tofu (about 1 pound)
Vegetable oil for shallow-frying
2 tablespoons chili bean paste
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 inches ginger, sliced
2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced diagonally
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons cold water
1. Cut the tofu into square slices 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.
2. Heat oil for shallow-frying to a high temperature. Add the tofu slices in batches and fry for a few minutes until golden (they should still be tender and white on the inside). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. In the same wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over moderate heat. Add the chili bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is red and fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
4. Add the chicken stock and tofu and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, season with sugar and soy sauce, and simmer for 4 minutes until the liquid is reduced and the tofu has absorbed some of the sauce. Add the leeks and stir briefly until just cooked. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the wok, stir until the sauce thickens, and turn out onto a serving platter.