Today the Highchair Travelers will teach you to make one of our favorite “home-cooking” Chinese meals, Chao Tuduo Si. This is a delicious stir-fried dish which is very common in Beijing homes. You’ll never see it in a restaurant, it’s something Mom would make, like our mac and cheese or tuna casserole. Only much tastier.
Now I must confess that in our house this dish is known as “Chicken Potato Thing” and I had to ask my trusty fellow Beijingren what it was really called before I could post this. This was one of the first things Ayi taught me to make, and I’m still working on mastering the aesthetics, but like her dumplings, it will taste fantastic even if it looks a little less than professional.
One of the key ingredients in this dish is Chinese black vinegar, which is available at Asian markets or online. This is crucial for the proper flavor, so run out and get yourself some right now. You’ll thank me later (and find yourself putting it on everything.)
The rest of the ingredients are simple, and though the method involves lots of wait time and lots of chopping (get a good knife!) it’s also very straightforward.
Chao Tuduo Si
5 medium potatoes (russet work best)
1/2 white or yellow onion
1 or 2 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 or 2 anaheim peppers (these are the closest, most easily available subs for the Chinese ones Ayi used)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and shredded or minced (I’m lazy and use the bottled kind . . . don’t tell Ayi)
Chinese black vinegar
Peel potatoes. Julienne in a very thin slice, you are aiming for 1/8 inch juliennes or less. Do the best you can. Cover potatoes in cold water and soak for at least two hours. Every half hour, drain, rinse and refill the water in the bowl.
The point of all this is to remove the starchiness from the potatoes so you get clean, crisp pieces instead of a gloppy hash-browny mess. It’s worth it, trust me.
At the end of the two hours, thinly slice onions and peppers to match potatoes. Mince garlic and ginger. Then slice chicken into the thinnest slices you can.
Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to a very large frying pan (use a pot if you need to) and heat over medium heat. Add chicken and cook just till chicken is white (NOT brown! You are not cooking fully.) Remove from pan.
Add additional oil, and add half the ginger and garlic to the pan. Cook until “it smells good”, then add peppers and onions, stir fry for 1-2 minutes or till onions are translucent. Again, do not brown! Remove from pan.
Thoroughly drain potatoes. Add more oil to the pan, if needed, and add the other half of the ginger and garlic. Cook until “it smells good”, and then add potatoes to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly but gently. You don’t want to them to brown, you want to slowly cook them all the way through without breaking them up.
If potatoes are browning too quickly but not cooking through, you can add a little water and cover to “steam” them for a few minutes. But watch carefully, you do not want to overcook. Think of your potatoes as noodles–you want them al dente instead of a soggy mess.
Remove from heat, and add black vinegar and soy sauce to taste. I use about 1/2 a cup of each, but feel free to experiment. We like ours with a good vinegar kick. Add salt to taste as well, it often needs quite a bit.
Serve alone, with rice, or inside thin Chinese pancakes. This last method is especially popular for kids. Kind of a chicken-potato burrito. In fact, to reveal a probably-appalling-to-foodies secret, many an Ayi has served this dish to American kids wrapped inside a Mexican flour tortilla from the local expat market. And it’s absolutely delicious.
Don’t let the intimidating-sounding prep stop you from making this amazing dish. If your juliennes are too big, just cook a bit longer. Ayi will never know.
Want more? Check out the Highchair Travelers Pinterest Page.