Stir-fried potato slivers with chilli and sichuan pepper recipe

If you've never seen the dish before, you may find it hard to believe that it's actually made from potatoes. In restaurants, the potato slivers are usually rinsed in cold water which washes away some of their starch, but Chinese friends who cook potatoes this way at home often don't bother. If you don't rinse them, they will become a little sticky as you stir-fry them – not so elegant, but delicious.

You can make this with any kind of potato, the taste and texture of the final dish varying according to the type. Maris Piper, for example, gives a lovely crisp, clean flavour and mouthfeel, while Sante offers an excellent flavour and a slight stickiness which is most pleasing in the mouth. Don't worry if your slivers are not as fine or even as those in the photograph, they'll still taste wonderful.

4–5 dried chillies
400g potatoes
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp whole sichuan pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)

Snip the chillies in half and discard their seeds as far as possible. Peel the potatoes. Take one and cut a thin slice from one side. Lay the rest of the potato on its now-flat side on your board, and cut into slices, as thin and as even as possible. Spread the slices out in an overlapping line, then cut them into very fine slivers. Repeat with the other potatoes. If you are not cooking them immediately, cover them in slightly salted cold water so they don't discolour and shake them dry in a colander before cooking.

Heat a seasoned wok over a high flame, then add the oil and swirl it around. Swiftly throw in the chillies and sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until the spices smell wonderful and the chillies are darkening but not burnt, then add the potatoes. Continue to stir-fry for a few minutes, until the potatoes are hot and no longer taste raw, but retain a little crispness, adding salt to taste. (If you have cut very fine slivers, you can do this over a high flame; if your slivers are not very fine, reduce the heat and stir-fry for a little longer.) Off the heat, stir in the sesame oil, if using, then serve.


Stir-fried potato slivers with spring onion

If you prefer not to use chilli and sichuan pepper, you can stir-fry the potato slivers in unseasoned oil, adding salt to taste and a small handful of finely sliced spring onion greens just before you take the wok off the heat (the spring onions only need to be stir-fried for a few seconds, until you can smell their fragrance). Then add the sesame oil and serve. This is a most delectable variation.

Stir-fried potato slivers with green pepper

Omit the chilli and sichuan pepper and stir-fry the potato slivers with a handful of green pepper slivers in unseasoned oil, adding salt to taste and a small handful of finely sliced spring onion greens just before you take the wok from the heat. Use about one-fifth of the amount of green pepper slivers as potato slivers.

Stir-fried potato slivers with vinegar

Rinse the potato slivers in water and shake them dry. Stir-fry them with a few slivers of green pepper, for colour. Season with salt and a little light soy sauce and add 1–2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar towards the end of the cooking time.

• This recipe is taken from Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury, £25). Order a copy for £20 from the Guardian bookshop

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