• 500 g russet potatoes, or Yukon Golds
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
  • 4 scallions, white & green parts separated, then sliced
  • 50 g Yunnan suan yancai, or Sichuan yacai or sauerkraut
  • 1 tsp Chinese chili powder, or cayenne
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Youlazi chili oil, or Laoganma chili crisps in oil (optional, see note)


1. Peel the potatoes, then slice into roughly two inch cubes. Lay down in one layer on a plate. Steam for 20 minutes over high heat.

2. Mince the garlic, slice the scallions. If you’re using sauerkraut, mince it.

3. Make some youlazi chili oil, if using: Add the 1 tbsp chili flakes to a bowl, and the 1/4 cup oil to a pan. Over high heat, get the oil up to almost smoking, ~190C (375˚F), then turn off the heat. Wait until the oil is back to about ~150C (300˚F), then toss it in with the chili flakes and stir. The reason for going up then down in temperature is so that (1) when getting up to temperature the oil can "cook" and get a more pleasant taste and (2) the best temperature to add the oil into the chilis is ~150C, which gives it the most vibrant color.

4. Take out the potato plate from the steamer. Make sure you keep the starch water on the plate. Don’t drain anything, that water’ll go into the stir-fry together with the potatoes.

5. Stir fry: As always when stir-frying, first longyau: get your wok piping hot, shut off the heat, add in your oil—here about 2 tbsp—and give it a swirl to get a nice non-stick surface. Toss the flame to medium, then immediately add:

* garlic and fry for ~15 seconds.
* white portion of scallions, and mix for about 5 seconds
* the pickled vegetable (suan yancai, yacai, or sauerkraut) and mix for another 5 seconds.
* chili powder, and mix for another 15 seconds
* potatoes and steaming liquid.

Mash the potatoes with your spatula, stirring periodically. Fry for about a minute, until the potatoes have come together a bit.

Swirl another tablespoon of oil around the wok (to keep the potatoes from getting dry and sticky) and add in the salt. Continue mashing for about 90 seconds. If at any point the potatoes are really starting to stick, feel free to add in a touch more oil.

Once the large chunks of potatoes are basically completely gone, add in the Sichuan pepper powder and the scallion greens. Mix and mash for ~30 seconds. Empty into a serving plate.

6. Optionally drizzle your chili oil or the Laoganma on top, quantity depending on your tastes. I personally like topping with about 2 tbsp of chili oil.


Note on Sichuanese Yacai abroad: Some of the brands of Yacai that make it abroad are not the best quality ones, and can sometimes be quite salty. Before using, taste your Yacai. If it tastes like a salt lick, soak the yacai in cool water for 5 minutes then drain. This should solve any salinity issues.
Note on pickled veg substitutions for the obsessive: Ok, so that Yunnan Suan Yancai to me tastes like… 80% Sichuanese Yacai and 20% Suancai, with a mild kick to it. If you happen to have those things on hand… awesome, mince up 10g suancai with 40g yacai. Then take ½ tsp chili powder and mix it in with you yacai/suancai combo and let it sit real quick (at least 5 minutes).

If you’re working with purely Yacai… again, I think they’re close enough to be direct subs. But if you like, mix in the chili powder into the Yacai like above together with tiniest touch of vinegar.

If you’re working off of sauerkraut, you’re not only missing a little kick but also a little sweetness. Mix in 1 tsp of chili powder and 1 tsp of sugar into the sauerkraut and let it briefly sit before using.


Chinese Cooking Demystified






Asian : East Asian : Hunan