This recipe is based on classic ma po tofu. The only major changes I've done to it, other than switching puffball mushrooms for tofu, is to leave out the ground pork and substitute roasted peanuts. Why? It makes it a vegetarian recipe; the roasted peanuts give the dish even more of a contrast in texture than ground pork would have. You really need something crunchy to go with the soft, almost slippery puffballs. If you don't have puffball mushrooms, use regular mushrooms here. Or, if you don't hate tofu the way I do, use tofu and make this more authentic. And there is no law saying you can't make this with meat, either. I've made variations of this recipe before with shredded pheasant breast, and it's really, really good.
1poundpuffball mushroomsor other mushrooms, or tofu
1/4cupChinese rice wine or sherry
1cupvegetable,chicken or game stock
4-6baby leeks or scallions,sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2tablespoonscorn starch,mixed with 6 tablespoons cold water
1teaspoonground Sichuan peppercorns
Slice all the puffballs in half, or slice other mushrooms into large pieces.
Get the lard or oil hot over medium-high heat in a wok or large saute pan. Add the chile bean paste and the garlic and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add the fermented black bean paste and the dried chiles and stir fry another 30 seconds or so.
Add the puffballs and toss to coat. Add the rice wine and stock, then the sugar and soy sauce and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the baby leeks and cook 1 minute.
Mix the cornstarch into the wok a little at a time, stirring all the while. You want the sauce to thicken a little and get a nice sheen on it. When it does, mix in the Sichuan peppercorns. Serve at once over white rice.