Why is it so hard to think of the potato as a Chinese vegetable?
Potatoes came to China, as they came to Europe, after the discovery of the New World. Even though they were not greatly liked, they spread quickly, and were soon cultivated all over China. Sinification did not change the spud; and, according to Mrs.
This recipe accentuates the vegetable side of the potato, its crispness and fresh flavor. It is a simple combination of potatoes, green peppers, and pork shreds that plays upon the contrasting textures, tastes, and colors of the ingredients. Even though this is an authentic Szechwanese dish, you will be amazed at its mildness — unless, of course, you elect to use hot green peppers instead of ordinary green bell peppers.
Peel the potatoes, then slice them into shreds about 2 inches long and ⅛ inch wide, the size and shape of a wooden matchstick. Put the shreds in a bowl and cover them with cold water so they will remain crisp.
Cut all the fat and bone away from the pork chops, then cut the lean meat into shreds about the same size as the potatoes. (This is easier to do if you first put the pork into the freezer for about 10 minutes, until the meat becomes slightly stiff but not frozen.)
Clean the scallions, then cut them, both the white part and about one-third of the green, into 1-inch lengths.
Add the scallions soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch to the pork shreds. Mix thoroughly, until each shred is coated with the mixture then set aside.
Slice the peppers into shreds the same size as the potato and pork shreds.
Cut the leek in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly, then cut into slivers the same size as the other shredded ingredients.
Just before you are ready to begin cooking, drain the potatoes thoroughly.
(potatoes) (green peppers) (leek) (meat mixture) (potatoes)
Heat your wok or pan over a high flame for about 15 seconds, then pour in the oil. It will be hot enough to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.
When the oil is ready add the shredded potatoes, salt and vinegar. Stir-fry vigorously for about 2 minutes, using your cooking shovel or spoon in a scooping motion to toss the potato shreds around in the pan so every piece is exposed to the hot oil. When the potatoes have become slightly limp but are still white remove them from the pan.
Reheat the pan and pour in the fresh oil.
When the oil is ready for cooking, add the green pepper and leek shreds and the salt. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, then add the meat mixture and the partially cooked potato shreds. Continue to stir-fry all these ingredients fairly vigorously for about 2 more minutes.
Add the ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns and continue stir-frying until the pork is thoroughly cooked, which should take no more than 3 or 4 minutes. (It is important not to overcook this dish, because the potatoes should not lose their crisp texture.)
Salt, if necessary
Taste the dish just before you are ready to serve it. You may need to add more salt in order to bring out the bright taste of the green peppers and the slightly rich flavor of the pork.
© 1976 Ellen Schrecker. All rights reserved.