2 tsp grated garlic (grated on a microplane grater)
2 scallions, chopped (separate white and green parts, use white parts here and reserve green parts for serving)
4 tsp finely minced shallots
for the rest
2 TB vegetable oil
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 cup minced shiitake mushrooms
2 TB Doubanjiang
1/4 cup hot vegetable broth
15 oz. block tofu, diced into 1X1-inch cubes (I used Kettle-style firm)
2 tsp chili oil
1 cup hot vegetable broth
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch, whisked with 1 TB water in a small bowl
the reserved green parts of the chopped scallions
more chili oil, if desired
to make the marinade
Combine the sherry, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, scallions and shallots in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, warm the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the peppercorns. When they turn brown and crispy, strain them through a fine mesh sieve, catching the oil in a small bowl. Scrape the oil back into the skillet and reserve the peppercorns.
Reduce the skillet heat to medium. Add the shiitakes and allow to cook down for several minutes. Add the Doubanjiang and stir to combine.
Add the 1/4 hot cup broth to deglaze and loosen the mixture.
Add in the bowl of marinade. Stir to combine.
Gently place the tofu on top of the shiitakes in the skillet.
Whisk the chili oil, and vegetable broth together in a small measuring cup. Pour over the top and allow to come to a simmer. Don’t stir or touch the tofu or it will break up. As it braises, it will firm up and then you can stir it.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. The sauce will reduce and the tofu will absorb the marinade and develop a nice texture.
Add in the sugar and gently stir with a rubber spatula.
Add the cornstarch slurry to the skillet. Gently stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat.
Ground the reserved peppercorns in a coffee grinder.
Divide the tofu into two bowls. Top with the reserved green onions, more chili oil and the ground peppercorns, to taste.