Crunchy Potato Stir-fry with Vinegar | 醋溜土豆絲
Potato stir-fry with vinegar is a very special dish- the crunchy potato strips combined with the sour, almost overpowering vinegar packed with a little heat and topped with freshly grounded Szechuan pepper to give it a little extra kick. It’s a delicious side dish that is enjoyed hot or cold around Taiwan and will change your view on potatoes being soft and mushy.
Since it’s officially winter and Rochester Downtown Farmers Market is filled with nothing but root veggies (ok, and some spinach and lettuce) I’ve gotta be more creative with my recipes so we don’t end up eating mashed potatoes for the rest of the winter.
This dish might change your view on potatoes. Most potato dishes are soft, mushy and soggy but not this one. It’s supposed to be enjoyed like a crunchy veggie! I figured that if potatoes isn’t always mushy and starchy, I probably won’t get sick of it as fast- so I thought of this potato stir-fry with vinegar dish my mom used to make.
Taiwanese food is a mash up of various cuisines from China using local ingredients available in Taiwan. It’s sometimes hard to say what Taiwanese food really is, but to me it’s food from home that my mom made. Potato stir-fry with vinegar originated in Shandong province of China, where my grandma’s family is originally from. The ingredients are simple- potatoes, chili, vinegar and soy sauce, but a twist was added to this dish in my family due to my grandpa- Szechuan peppercorns. Potato stir-fry with vinegar became a combination of north and south in our house.
The trick to a perfect crunchy potato stir-fry is to wash off most of the starch once the potato is cut into thin strips, but still leaving a little bit to create a slightly thick and tangy sauce yet the potatoes remain crunchy (vinegar helps too). For me, I throw my potato strips into a big bowl of water and mix it up then drain, repeating once and the potatoes are ready. Throwing the chopped chili into the heated oil before adding the potato strips makes the spiciness evenly distribute in the oil then coats the potatoes with flavor. Vinegar loses its flavor through heat, so separating the vinegar into two parts gives the potatoes sourness during the cooking process and vinegar added at the end of cooking process adds flavor to the dish.
One of the must-have tools in my kitchen is a set of mortar and pestle. I’ve had one back in Taiwan which I gave to my mom before I left so I bought a new one here, I tried but I just couldn’t be without it. What’s great about a mortar and pestle is that I can grind up a small amount of spices whenever I need, and we make all kinds of curry quite often. I find that freshly ground whole spices makes a big difference in flavor than the pre-ground ones, plus whole spice lasts longer without losing its essence. I also use mortar and pestle for grinding up small batches of TOASTED WHITE SESAME PASTE | 自製現磨麻醬, MALA HOT SAUCE | 秘製淑油麻辣醬, homemade Thai curry paste and chili paste, sometimes just pounding garlic instead of smacking them open with a knife. They are super handy.
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