Popular Post abcdefg Posted March 19, 2017 at 10:17 AM Popular Post Report Share Posted March 19, 2017 at 10:17 AM This is another wildly popular Yunnan favorite that has gradually migrated to other parts of China. Yunnan cuisine has a knack for using unlikely ingredients in imaginative ways which sets it apart from many other better known food styles. Yunnan cooks embrace boldly fragrant herbs, such as fennel and mint, and they marry them to our famous hot peppers without batting an eye. Today we will see how that works with Grandma's Fennel Potatoes 茴香老奶洋芋。The potato 土豆 is called "foreign tuber" 洋芋 here for reasons that go back to the days when Yunnan was a remote backwater province, populated by proud minorities, rebels and outlaws. Things like potatoes, introduced from other parts of China, were foreign indeed. Most of China's potatoes are produced in the northeast 东北 and northwest 西北, but Yunnan also produces an abundance of good ones, especially in its high, rocky northeast, specifically Qujing 曲靖 and Zhaotong 昭通。This part of the province is as proud of its potatoes as Honghe Prefecture 红河州 is of it's paddy rice, grown in the famous terraced fields 哈尼梯田 of Yuanyang County 元阳县，which crown the Ailao mountain range 哀牢山 in the southeast of the province. But Yunnan's best potato fields are not as photogenic as its rice paddies 水稻。 I bought some of these potatoes today at the big Sunday wet market 菜市场 from a vendor who had a mountain of them stacked six feet high. It was a struggle to only buy a few; he kept trying to stuff more and more in my bag. Wound up with about 1 斤，roughly 500 grams for 3 Yuan. Larger potatoes, with a more uniform shape and fewer blemishes cost 4 Yuan. Those big pretty ones might have been better for "French frying" or other dishes where they remained more intact. Also bought a bunch of small scallions 小葱。 The fennel 茴香 here is gorgeous, picked young and sold complete with the slim roots, for only 2 Yuan per bunch. Fennel is a relative of carrots, and western varieties have a large bulb on one end. But this Chinese fennel is grown for its delicate lacy fronds, which are aromatic and full of flavor. Scrub the potatoes and chop them into thick slices. Steam them until they are done 蒸熟; check them with a fork or the point of a knife. You can cook them in the steamer basket of your rice cooker just as well, but I wanted to use a stove-top steamer pot today because that way I could use the boiling water to strip the skin off a ripe tomato. (Dunk it for 30 seconds, then peel under cool running water.) We saw this tomato technique recently in the recipe for scrambled eggs with tomato. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/53734-the-basics-tomatoes-and-eggs-番茄炒鸡蛋/ While the potatoes are cooking, prep the other ingredients, scallions, dry red peppers 干辣椒, garlic 独蒜, ginger 老姜。 Take a moment to make sure everything is lined up, ready to go. When the potatoes are done, let them cool enough to be able to handle, then skin them and break them up. You can use a tool or put a glove on one hand and break them up that way. They do not need to be totally mashed and smooth; just soft enough for your old toothless Granny to be able to gum them down. Oil your wok; use high heat at first. Begin cooking the aromatics until they release their aroma 爆香。 When you add the potatoes, turn the flame way down because they are easy to burn. As you stir them up, add a half teaspoon or so of salt. TIP: Sprinkle the salt in with your fingers, because it is difficult to distribute it evenly if you rely on stirring alone. The last thing to go in is the finely-chopped fennel. Toss it around 翻炒 for a minute or so, and then you are done. Serve it up. Works well in place of rice, alongside a meat dish 荤菜, a green leafy vegetable 青菜 and a simple soup 汤。 I should point out that you can easily make this without the fennel. You can also omit the tomato. Like many popular dishes, this one has endless variations. Every restaurant will have its own individual take on it. But it's also definitely "make at home," family-style food 家常菜 of the highest order. 5 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.