We decided to just hang around the house this weekend, I'm a bit tired, and it is just too hot...... We didn't even feel like going to the market, so we decided to just eat what we had in the frig and lying around a la Charsiubao. Problem was, we didn't have much.........just some leftovers, and 1 lonely potato. So what to do with a potato?
I decided to make Sichuan Stir Fried Potato Strings. If you're not familiar with this dish, it may seem a bit odd......potatoes and Chinese cuisine would seem to be a bit of a leap. I thought so myself when I first saw this on a menu several years back. It was on the menu in a Shenyang restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley. I ordered it, and the Missus thought I was nuts. She told me, "you know this is just poor people home style food, right?" Being the carb lover, I enjoyed the texture of crunchy stir fried potatoes and the flavor of the sour vinegar and spicy chilies. After that I started noticing the dish on the menu off most Sichuan restaurants in the area. In Sichuan restaurants, the potatoes are served and eaten as a stir fried vegetable....in other words, it is consumed with rice! You gotta love that!
So here's the version I made tonight. I used Chinkiang Vinegar because I enjoy the flavor, but if you want the potatoes to be a bit more attractive you can use white vinegar. The taste will be a bit different. Also, many Sichuan restaurants will not use vinegar, but the Missus, being from Sandong, loves vinegar.
I love the numbing heat provided by the Sichuan Peppercorn, most restaurants will use whole peppercorn, but I enjoy using peppercorns that I've roasted and ground....it provides a nice numbing effect. Think of the dish as being a ma-la(numbing hot) version of Salt and Vinegar Shoestring Potatoes. As always, it is a pretty easy dish......I really don't make anything too difficult.
Sichuan Stir Fried Potato Strings (qiang tu dou si)
3-6 Dried Red Chilies
1 tsp Sichuan Pepper (whole or roasted and ground)
1/2- 1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Black Vinegar (Use white vinegar if you want a whiter color)
1 tsp Sesame Oil (optional)
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking
Heat wok over medium heat, drain potatoes well.
Add 2-3 Tb Oil to wok, and swirl around, add red chilies and if using whole Sichuan peppercorns add it as well.
Once you can smell the fragrance of the Sichuan peppercorns and chilies, add the potatoes.
Stir fry the potatoes for 3-4 minutes then add the sugar and vinegar.
When the potatoes are cooked and al dente in texture, taste and add salt if necessary, remove from heat and add sesame oil if desired.
A quick pickle:
I also had 3 large cucumbers, so I decided to do a really quick pickle.
Peel cucumbers, and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds using a spoon, and slice in thin "half-moons".
Place cucumber slices in a bowl, add salt and sugar, mix, and let stand for about 1 hour.
Combine vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, a dried red chilies is a small pot, and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Set aside and let cool.
Once liquid is cooled, drain slices of cucumber well, and add to liquid. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Serve with Sichuan Pepper-Salt. This pickle is best eaten the same day.
In a dry pan, combine 1 Tb of Sichuan Peppercorns with 3 Tb Sea/Kosher Salt.(Think a 3 to one ratio)
Roast salt-peppercorn mixture over low flame until fragrant. I always know that my Sichuan Peppercorn are ready when they start to "pop".
Remove immediately from heat, and grind.
I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. We'll be back with more restaurant posts tomorrow!