Potato is not a staple food for the Chinese, and I grew up eating it occasionally and always as one of the dishes to accompany rice. This particular one, which my aunt made so well for us at home, I find reminiscent of the Swiss rösti.
1poundpotatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
6ouncespork with alittlefat, finely minced
2tablespoonsdried shrimp, rinsed
About 8tablespoonsvegetable oil
2 large shallots, roughly chopped
2teaspoonsthin soy sauce
6 turns white pepper mill
2teaspoonsShaoxing wine or medium-dry sherry
Boil the potato for about 15 minutes, or until just cooked through. Drain well and mash, but not too finely.
Marinate the pork. Add the salt, sugar, soy sauce, pepper, wine or sherry, and cornstarch to the pork, and stir in the same direction to mix thoroughly. Leave to stand for about 15 minutes. Blend in the oil.
Pour 2tablespoons very hot water over the dried shrimp and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. Drain, then chop finely. Mix in with the pork.
Heat the wok over a high heat until smoke rises. Add 2tablespoons of the oil and swirl it around. Add the shallot, and stir about 6 times to release the aroma. Add the pork and, going to the bottom of the wok with the scoop or a metal spatula, turn and flip for 30-45 seconds, or until the pork is barely cooked. Remove and stir into the potato mixture, mixing well. Wash and dry the wok.
Stir the cornstarch into the potato mixture. Divide into 8 portions. Flatten them, one by one, between the palms of your hands to make into round cakes, each about 2½ inches across.
Reheat the wok over a high heat until smoke rises. Add 2tablespoons of the oil and swirl it around. Lower the heat to medium and put in 4 potato cakes, taking care not to let them stick to each other. Fry for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown in color. Carefully turn the cakes over, one by one, and trickle around the edges about 1tablespoon oil and fry until golden brown. Remove to a serving plate and keep warm nearby.