These crispy tofu balls are are served with a fiery condiment that couldn't be simpler: salt mixed with ground Sichuan peppercorns.
This recipe originally appeared in CHINA: THE COOKBOOK by Kei Lum and Diora Fong Chan.
1 tablespoon dried shrimp
9 ounces/250 grams firm tofu, drained
1 bunch cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
1 scallion (spring onion), green part only, finely chopped
Soak the dried shrimp in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Drain, then finely chop and set aside.
Put the tofu into a large bowl and mash it with a fork. Stir in the dried shrimp, cilantro (coriander), scallion (spring onion), pickled mustard, ginger, salt, ground Sichuan pepper, tianmianjiang, and egg. Mix thoroughly and then stir in the cornstarch (cornflour). Form the tofu mixture into 1 1/4-inch/3-cm-diameter balls.
Heat the oil in a wok or deep saucepan to 340°F/170°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 45 seconds. Add the tofu balls and deep-fry for 3 minutes, or until slightly brown in color. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the balls from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Reheat the oil to 340°F/170°C and return the tofu balls to the wok. Deep-fry for another minute until the balls are golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the balls from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Step 5 Spiced Pepper Salt
To make the spiced pepper salt, mix the ingredients. Serve the tofu balls with rice, ketchup, if using, and spiced pepper salt.