Cooking With Laoganma: Spicy Chili Crisp Potato Salad (Liangban Tudou, 凉拌土豆)
The Godmother Miniseries: Potatoes
As many from-scratch recipes as I publish, what really drives traffic to my website is The Godmother, aka, Laoganma, whom I first wrote at length about in early 2015. People all over the world love these Guizhou-made chili oils as condiments and are also looking for ways to cook with them. So who am I to disagree? I have one very popular recipe on the site for LGM Black Bean Chicken, but I cook with both the Spicy Chili Crisp and the Chili Oil With Black Bean fairly frequently, as well as with The Godmother’s Chili Oil Fermented Bean Curd.
So I’m embarking on a Cooking With Laoganma Miniseries, and first up is a room-temperature Sichuan potato salad. I usually make this dish with one of my homemade chili oils, but I have to admit that using LGM Spicy Chili Crisp does bump up the flavor. What can I say? It’s really, really tasty. And really easy.
So here we go. I’m going to keep this post as brief as it takes to make this. You slice the potatoes, mix the sauce, briefly boil the potato slices, mix them with the sauce, plate, garnish and done! This is what’s called a liangban cai, or cold dish, in Sichuan, meaning room temperature. The beauty of it is that it’s a delicious and easy make-ahead to go with a stir-fry. Though don’t put it out too early, or there won’t be any left!
The main thing to remember is to not overcook the potatoes. They really should be just slightly cooked. Not too crisp, but definitely not soft. When I see about a 1/4-inch cooked “ring” around the outside of the slices, I know they are done. Especially since they will continue to cook until you put them into the sauce—which you want to do pretty quickly so that the potatoes will easily absorb the killer combination of hot/sour/sweet/umami and whatever drug The Godmother puts in that sauce to make it so addictive.
Spice-wise, this dish is only moderately hot (to my tastebuds at least). To make it super mala, garnish with freshly roasted and ground Sichuan pepper and fresh hot chili peppers.
I adapted this recipe from one I found online years ago in an early food blog called Sunflower Food Galore (don’t you love the name?) The man or woman (I was never sure) was a self-described “Chinese brought up in Brunei now living in UK.” Although Sunflower Galore stopped blogging in early 2012, he/she published some really great recipes. I have since made this so many times I’ve made it my own, but I still owe a debt to this site. (When my husband saw me photographing this, he said, “Are you just now blogging about that dish?” Which shows you how many times we’ve had it.)
It’s easy to burn out as a blogger and stop altogether, which is why I am in the camp of “slow blogging.” I’d rather do quality recipes when I have time to do them justice than half-baked recipes every week. Sure appreciate you sticking around despite that.
Cooking With Laoganma: Spicy Chili Crisp Potato Salad (Liangban Tudou)
- 1½ pounds russet potatoes (about 2 medium-large potatoes)
- 4 tablespoons Laoganma Spicy Chili Crisp (or homemade chili oil)
- 4 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Zhenjiang black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper oil
- freshly ground Sichuan pepper (see note)
- red chilies, thinly sliced
- scallions, thinly sliced
- Peel and cut potatoes into ⅛-inch slices. This is thicker than a potato chip, but only slightly. If possible, use a mandoline to get uniform slices. (I open my Benriner mandoline to nearly the thickest slicing capacity.) Put slices in a bowl and cover with water.
- Put a large pot of water on to boil over a high heat. While waiting for it to come to a boil, mix the sauce in a large bowl: Spicy Chili Crisp (or homemade chili oil), soy sauce, vinegar, stock and Sichuan pepper oil.
- When water is boiling, add potato slices. The boil will die down, and by the time it just recovers to a full boil the potatoes are probably done. I look for about a ¼-inch "ring" of doneness around the edges, with the interior still crisp. They need to remain somewhat firm so they don't fall apart in the sauce. Transfer the potatoes to a colander and drain well.
- Immediately add the potato slices to the sauce bowl about ⅓ at a time. Use tongs to make sure each slice gets fully covered with sauce on both sides before transferring to a serving plate. Finish with remaining potatoes, ⅓ at a time. When all slices are nicely arranged, spoon any remaining sauce on top. Garnish with ground Sichuan pepper, chili rings and scallions to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.