With coronavirus making travel a tricky and even potentially dangerous prospect this year, we’re embracing the summer staycation. All week (and all summer) long, we’ll bring you transportive flavors and travel-inspired ideas from around the world, so you can take your tastebuds on a trip and give your mind a mini vacation while you’re still at home. Here, a Chinese potato salad that’s quick, easy, and delicious—and good hot or cold.
We’re always looking for new ways to eat potatoes, and the biggest hit of last summer (as far as side dishes go) was definitely our favorite Japanese potato salad. We’re still gobbling it up this year, but Beijing-style potato salad may be the next spud-based superstar.
First off, it’s not anything like the potato salad you normally find at a picnic or BBQ. Not only is there no mayo involved, there’s no boiling or cubing potatoes either. Instead, the spuds are shredded and quickly par-fried in a hot wok (in chile and garlic-infused oil) until only partially cooked, so they stay a little crunchy. They’re usually tossed with vinegar to finish. Some recipes also incorporate ingredients like sesame oil, rice wine, Sichuan peppercorn, and horseradish powder. The taste is sour, fresh, and spicy, and the texture is al dente, not ultra creamy.
Related Reading: 9 Essential Cooking Tools for Homemade Chinese Food
According to Chowhound ipsedixit, it tastes “sort of like soggy salt and vinegar potato chips”—but better than what you’re imagining from that description!
It’s also usually served cold or at room temperature, so like almost any other potato salad, it does work as a make-ahead dish. And while it might not seem like a natural fit next to your burger (try it anyway!), it would definitely work with more plainly served meats like steak and ribs, whether they incorporate other Asian flavors or not. Serve these shredded potatoes as part of a DIY Korean BBQ (as you would banchan) or next to grilled tri-tip, or try them hot out of the wok with a roasted chicken on any Sunday night.
For a tutorial on how to slice your spuds, check out the Omnivore’s Cookbook’s Chinese Style Potato Salad recipe—which does not include any vinegar and does add a step of parboiling the potatoes before tossing them in the infused hot oil, proving there are always many paths to success:
If your knife skills aren’t quite up to par, a food processor with a julienne disc is a great tool here—ditto a stand mixer with a julienne attachment. Or try a spiralizer or a handheld julienne peeler.
Spiralizer Ultimate 7 Vegetable Slicer, $25.97 from Amazon
Not just for zoodles!
However you cut your spuds, if you’re not parboiling them first, be sure to soak them for 10 minutes in cold water. That removes some of the starch and makes the potato pieces less likely to clump together, but you also want to drain and pat them dry before you cook them. The actual stir-fry will only take a hot minute, and then you toss the shreds in the dressing (or just some vinegar) and let it come to room temperature (unless you want to eat it hot). That’s it!
It’s an incredibly easy dish, and yet another fantastic way to make the humble yet versatile potato shine.
Header image courtesy of BJI / Blue Jean Images / Getty Images