Stir-fried Potato Slivers with Chillies & Sichuan Pepper
Supplied by food writer Fuchsia Dunlop. 'The Chinese attitude to potatoes is radically different from the European one. They're not seen as a staple food, but as a vegetable which is cooked as an accompaniment to rice.
600g Premium Salad potatoes
6 Sichuanese dried chillies
1 teaspoon whole Sichuan pepper
12 teaspoons sesame oil
In Chinese, they are known as earth beans or as foreign taro, the latter a reference to their New World origins and comparatively recent introduction to China. Sometimes potato chunks are simmered with beef or lamb, in slow-cooked stews. More often in Sichuan they are cut into fine slivers and simply stir-fried. This cooking method keeps them crunchy, and lends them a very different character from the mashed, boiled, deep-fried and roasted potatoes popular in the West. You can make this dish with any kind of potato, but it works best with those with a waxy rather than a floury texture. The finer and more even your chopping, the better the result good Sichuanese cooks slice them so finely they look almost like skeins of wool when they are cooked, languidly entwined on the plate. Take care not to burn the spices.'
Peel the potatoes and cut them as evenly as possible into very thin slices. Then lay these slices flat and cut them into very fine matchstick slivers. Soak for a few minutes in plenty of cold, lightly salted water to remove excess starch. You can also use a mandoline or a coarse grater in a food processor to cut the potatoes.
Just before cooking, drain the potatoes in a colander, shaking out as much water as possible.
Season the wok, then add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl it around over a medium hot flame until hot but not smoking. Add the chillies and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until the oil is fragrant and spicy. Add the potatoes, turn the heat up and stir-fry vigorously for 4-5 minutes, seasoning with salt and maybe a pinch of sugar to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon will do). When the potatoes are hot and cooked but still al dente, remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.
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