Stir-fried julienned potatoes with chili pepper (尖椒土豆丝) is a traditional Chinese Sichuan dish that is very popular both at home and in restaurants. Its spicy and sour signature flavor combined with a bit of numbness from Sichuan peppercorns goes well with both meaty and vegetable dishes. And it pairs nicely with rice, porridge, and buns. I don’t normally eat a lot of rice, but I could easily down a large bowl of rice with this dish.
Every family has their own preference for stir-fried julienned potatoes with chili pepper when it comes to the taste and texture. Some like it super spicy; some like it more sour. Some like it crunchier; some like it softer.
Because I love vinegar in general (oh yeah, kombucha; see picture below), I personally prefer it more on the sour side. Normally for this dish, I would have added 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, but I have toned it down to 2 for this recipe. But if you are not a fan of vinegar, you can even reduce it to 1 tablespoon or less. Also depending on your tolerance to spicy food, you can use any fresh or dry chili pepper or a combination of both for this dish.
In terms of texture, ideally the fully cooked julienned potatoes should taste a bit crunchy. If you like your julienned potatoes super crunchy, reduce the cook time by a minute. On the other hand, if you like it softer, increase the cook time by a minute.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 pound of yellow, white, or red potatoes (about 2 medium ones)1
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns 2
- 1 green onion (chopped into thin slices)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 to 4 green and red chili pepper 3
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar 4
- Peel off the potatoes’ skin and cut them (julienne) into equal sized matchsticks.5 Soak them in cold water for about 5 minutes to further remove starch from potatoes. Wash and drain thoroughly.
- Wash the green onions and chop it into small pieces.
- Wash the fresh chili peppers (if using). Cut it open and discard the seeds. Then cut the chili peppers into long thin slices. For dried chili pepper, break it into half and discard the seeds.3
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat in a skillet or wok. When the oil is getting warm, add the Sichuan peppercorns and let cook for a few minutes until most of the peppers have turned to a darker hue but not burnt (see images). Use a wood or metal spatula to scoop out the cooked peppercorns and discard.2
- With the oil still hot, add the chili peppers and green onions to the wok. Stir for half a minute then add the drained potato matchsticks. Immediately stir, toss, and mix everything evenly for a few seconds.
- Increase the heat to medium-high or high and add the 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Continue stirring and tossing to cook the potato matchsticks evenly and to prevent them from sticking to the pan. After about 3 minutes, when the potatoes are mostly cooked and have a glossy look, add the 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Continue stirring and tossing for a minute, then transfer to a plate.
- The potatoes used for this dish should not be the starchy kind. Therefore, do not use Russet or Idaho potato for this dish. Both waxy and all-purpose type potatoes work for this dish.
- Sichuan peppercorns are pinkish or reddish in color. They are the key in Sichuan dishes that results the mouth-numbing aftertaste. It is a spice used for most Sichuan dishes. The purpose of frying the Sichuan peppercorns is to infuse the oil with the peppercorn’s fragrant flavor and spice, resulting in a little bit of the mouth-numbing effect.
- Here, I used both fresh Anaheim peppers, which is mild in flavor and heat, and some dried Chinese Red Peppers (Chao Tian Jiao). When dealing with spicy chili peppers, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and avoid rubbing your eyes with your hands for a while. My Anaheim peppers were a bit small, so I only chopped them into small pieces.
- To preserve the potato’s light color, I prefer white vinegar to Chinese black vinegar for this dish.
- Alternatively, you can use a food processor or julienne peeler to get the desired result.