1 lb. ground pork
12 small-medium shiitakes, soaked in warm water 30-40 min., stemmed and quartered
2 boxes firm tofu, cubed and dried well with paper towels
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp. soy paste
3 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 cup shiitake mushroom soaking liquid
1 cup water
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. white pepper
Cornstarch slurry (1 tbsp. water + 1 tbsp. cornstarch)
1. Heat 1 cup of oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium high heat. Add the tofu cubes and fry, turning occasionally, until lightly browned (do not overcrowd: fry in 2-3 batches, as needed). Remove to a paper towel-lined platter or baking sheet to drain.
2. Pour out all but 2-3 tsp. of oil in the pan and add the minced garlic. Saute for 5-10 seconds or until fragrant. Add the ground pork and stir fry until just cooked through.
3. Add the fried tofu, quartered shiitake mushrooms, soy paste, oyster sauce, mushroom soaking liquid, water, sugar, and white pepper. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
4. Bring the mixture up to a boil and add the cornstarch slurry. Stir constantly for 30 seconds to about a minute or until the sauce has thickened. Turn off heat and toss with half of the chopped scallions.
5. Pour the tofu mixture into a clay pot. Garnish with the remaining chopped scallions. Serve as is or with steamed white rice.