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The Food Processor

Sichuan Dish Uses Tofu

March 24, 1988|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

Hot and spicy bean curd is a Sichuan dish from Western China that features minced garlic, ground pork and hot chili oil to spice up nubbins of bland bean curd. In addition, Sichuan peppercorns add to the heat and spice of the dish.

There are many different types of bean curd (tofu). Textures vary, but this dish requires a medium-to-firm fresh bean curd (sometimes called Japanese bean curd) that will not disintegrate when cubed and cooked.

Fresh bean curd is available in Asian food stores and produce markets. It also is widely distributed in supermarkets in sealed plastic containers that help to keep it fresh. Bean curd should be refrigerated in cool water (change water daily).

The recipe takes about 20 minutes to prepare from start to finish. The food processor metal blade is used to quickly mince the garlic, then one-inch cubes of boneless fresh pork (called pork butt although it is cut from the shoulder) are added to the garlic and ground to medium, or hamburger, consistency.

Grinding up to one-half-pound of pork takes about eight to 10 seconds in the food processor, and the machine comes in handy for this task since ground pork can be difficult to find in many markets.

SICHUAN BEAN CURD

1 medium clove garlic

6 ounces pork butt, chilled and cubed

2 tablespoons oil

1/4 cup Shaohsing wine or pale dry Sherry

2/3 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

1 to 1 1/4 pounds tofu, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

4 tablespoons cold water

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup hot chili oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns, about

Insert metal blade in processor. Mince garlic by adding to machine with motor running. Add pork and grind with 4 or 5 (2-second) pulses. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok over high heat until very hot. Add pork and garlic and stir-fry just until meat pieces separate and half meat turns pale, about 30 seconds. Add wine, stock and soy sauces. Stir just until mixed.

Add tofu and toss. Cover and simmer rapidly over medium heat to thoroughly cook meat and heat tofu, tossing once or twice, about 3 minutes.

Uncover, add cornstarch combined with water, green onions and chili oil. Stir fry until sauce thickens slightly. Add sesame oil, toss and immediately transfer to heated serving dish. Sprinkle with Sichuan pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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