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How the Chinese Eat Potatoes

by: Qu, Dongyu and Xie, Kaiyun, editors

Singapore : World Scientific Publishing Co., Pte. Ltd. 2008, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-981-283-291-7


Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2009 Issue: 16(4) page(s): 22 and 23

Dedicated to the International Year of the Potato (2008), thirty-three contributors collect a comprehensive set of more than three hundred recipes of staple foods and other dishes from all over China. The editors discuss current potato use and future trends of potato production providing more than just recipes.

Read and learn that this tuber originated in the Andes mountains in South America and made its way to China just a few hundred years ago. Now, the Chinese use it extensively, also use the leaves and the stems of the potato plants.

The nutrition of this important vegetable has kept hundreds of thousands from starving in many countries. In China, the potato is baby food, anti-senescence food, and medicinal food. Recipes are presented in regional sets (North, Northwest, Southwest, even a few from other regions and from the West. Almost all are photographed and titled in English and phonetically in Pinyin, and they indicate if vegetarian and/or Muslim.

After the recipes, the book ends with the development and role of the potato in China, its introduction there, development of the potato industry after the 20th century, and its main roles in this country. Be fascinated, as we were, to learn there is a book titled: A Summary of Potato History stating it arrived in China in the middle of the Ming Dynasty circa 1550. Vegetarians and Muslims will be delighted to know that there is one index each of their dishes. Others will be fascinated that many potato dishes mimic other popular Chinese foods, as does Mala Tudou Ding or Hot and Spicy Diced Potatoes. Finished, this dish looks like Ma Po Doufu. The taste is similar, the texture a continent away. We tried many of them and were delighted with their dishes; you will be, too.
Hot and Spicy Diced Potatoes
Ingredients:
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups cooking oil
1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
2 Tablespoons chili sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon MSG (optional)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Preparation:
1. Soak diced potatoes in water for fifteen minutes, then remove, drain, and dry them in a towel.
2. Heat oil in a deep pot and deep-fry the diced potatoes. Then drain and discard all but one tablespoon of the oil.
3. Mix the drained potatoes with the chili powder, Sichuan peppercorns, salt, MSG and the cornstarch, and mix well.
4. Heat the tablespoon of reserved oil, fry the potato mixture for a minute or two, then serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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