Potatoes, Green Peppers, and Pork Shreds

Yangyu Qingjiao Chao Rousi

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    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. Chiang, Szechwanese potatoes are exactly the same as the ones from Maine or Idaho. The difference lies in the way the potatoes are cooked. Mrs. Chiang treats them not as a starch, but as a vegetable. She uses them in stir-fried dishes the way she uses carrots or string beans or any non-leafy vegetable. Cooked in this manner, potatoes do seem less starchy and more vegetable-like.

    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.

    Method

    Preparation

    3 medium potatoes 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.
    3 medium pork chops (for a yield of ¾ pound meat, approximately) 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.)
    3 scallions Clean the scallions, then cut them, both the white part and about one-third of the green, into 1-inch lengths.

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    ½ teaspoon sesame oil

    2 teaspoons cornstarch

    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.

    (pork)

    2 green peppers or 5 small hot green peppers

    Slice the peppers into shreds the same size as the potato and pork shreds.
    1 leek (optional) Cut the leek in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly, then cut into slivers the same size as the other shredded ingredients.
    (potatoes) Just before you are ready to begin cooking, drain the potatoes thoroughly.

    Cooking

    3 tablespoons peanut oil 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.

    (potatoes)

    ½ teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

    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.
    3 tablespoons peanut oil Reheat the pan and pour in the fresh oil.

    ½ teaspoon salt

    (green peppers)

    (leek)

    (meat mixture)

    (potatoes)

    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.
    teaspoon ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns 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.