What better way to dress up crispy baked tots than with some spicy, meaty mapo tofu made properly with ground pork, doubanjiang, and both whole and ground Sichuan peppercorns?
- 1 ¼ pounds frozen bite-sized potato nuggets (such as Tater Tots®)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
- ½ pound ground pork
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped red chile peppers, divided
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine)
- 2 tablespoons fermented bean paste (doubanjiang)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 (8 ounce) container firm tofu, cubed
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onion, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (260 degrees C). Arrange tots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn tots over, then continue baking until crispy and hot, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grind 1/2 of the peppercorns into a powder. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in remaining whole peppercorns; cook, stirring occasionally, until oil is infused, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard whole peppercorns.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Stir pork, onion, and 1 tablespoon chiles into the skillet. Cook, stirring to break up lumps, until pork is lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock, wine, bean paste, soy sauce, and ground peppercorns. Add tofu and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir cornstarch and water together in a small bowl. Stir slowly into the tofu and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer tots to a serving platter and top with tofu mixture. Garnish with green onion and remaining red chile peppers.