Kung Pao Potatoes

By Pat Tanumihardja
February 23, 2018
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Author Notes: I’m not really sure what prompted me to put the flavors of kung pao chicken and potatoes together. But I’m glad I did! And who would have thought that I’d borrow a tip from Kenji J. Lopez’s breakfast hash recipe on Serious Eats? Par-cooking the potatoes in vinegar-spiked water produced cubes that were firm on the outside yet fluffy on the inside. The potatoes stood up to the second cooking stage—the stir-frying—and didn’t fall apart in the pan. Pat Tanumihardja

Serves: 4

Potatoes

  • 1-1 1/4 pounds (500 g) yellow gold potatoes (5 to 6 medium), peeled and cut into ¾-in (2-cm) cubes and submerged in cold water to prevent browning
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch or cornstarch

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon potato starch or cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon Chinkiang black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4-8 dried red chilies, heads snipped and seeds shaken out if desired
  • 1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced garlic (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon (chubby 1-inch knob) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 (1/2 cup) scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) roasted peanuts
  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot with 6 cups (1.5 liters) cold water. Add the distilled white vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes after coming to a boil, until the potatoes are just shy of tender. You should be able to pierce a piece but it should still have bite. Drain, rinse with cold water, and let sit in a colander to dry for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon potato starch until well coated.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, make the sauce. Stir together 1 tablespoon potato starch, the sugar, salt, sherry, black vinegar, soy sauces, sesame oil, and water, and set aside.
  3. Preheat a large wok or skillet. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil and set over high heat until shimmering hot. Fry the chilies and Sichuan peppercorns and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds, until the chilies start to darken but not burn.
  4. Add the potatoes and stir and cook until they start to brown, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir the sauce and pour into the wok, stirring quickly as the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Throw in the green onions and peanuts and stir and cook for about 30 seconds until the green onions turn bright green. Take off the heat and serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

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