“Mapo tofu is one of my favourite dishes. The spicy Sichuan ingredients mixed with the minerality and richness of the tuna and the creaminess of the tofu is such a good match. I promise you won’t miss the traditional recipe once you’ve tried this version. Any leftovers make an unbelievable jaffle (toasted sandwich)! The paste can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until needed. ”
Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry frying pan until fragrant, then use a mortar and pestle to grind to a rough powder. Set aside.
Place the ginger, garlic, shallots, doubanjiang and 150 ml (5 fl oz) of the grapeseed oil in a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste.
Heat 100 ml (3½ fl oz) of the remaining grapeseed oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Add the paste and fry, stirring occasionally, for 8–10 minutes until dried and fragrant, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes, until the rawness from the vegetables has been completely cooked out. Stir in the Shaoxing wine, sugar, tamari and one-third of the ground Sichuan peppercorns, then spoon the mixture into a large bowl.
Wipe out the pan, add the sesame oil and remaining 2½ tablespoons of grapeseed oil and heat over a high heat. Working in two batches, add the tuna mince to the pan and fry for 2 minutes, or until the mince is coloured and has separated into individual strands, then stir through the fried paste mixture to combine.
To assemble the mapo tofu, return the tuna mixture to the saucepan and warm through over a low heat. Add the tofu, cover with a lid and heat for 3 minutes, then spoon into serving bowls.
Top with the spring onion, sesame seeds, chilli, if using, and the remaining ground Sichuan peppercorns.