Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
1 package (1 pound) firm or extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons fermented black beans
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, dry sherry, or water
3 tablespoons peanut oil or neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 or 5 small hot dried chiles, or to taste
2 scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
Cut the tofu in half through its equator. Put the halves on 4 sheets of paper towels, and cover with another 4 sheets. Cover with a heavy cutting board, or a plate weighted with cans, or another similar weight. Change the towels if they become saturated. Weight the tofu for a total of 20 to 30 minutes, or as time allows. At the same time, soak the black beans in the wine or water.
Cut the pressed tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the oil in a large skillet or wok, preferably nonstick, over high heat. A minute later, add the garlic, ginger, and chiles and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Drain the black beans and add them, along with the tofu and about 2 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is hot, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and stir for about 30 seconds.
Turn off the heat, then stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil;' garnish and serve.