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Shoe-string Potatoes, Chinese Style

Vegetables, also Vegetarian Foods

Shoe-string Potatoes, Chinese Style
1 and 1/2 pounds potatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup peanut oil
1/2 or 1 whole star anise
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt 1/2 teaspoon chicken accent, MSG, or chicken bouillon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces shredded Jinan or Virginia ham
1 green hot pepper, minced, optional
1 teaspoon hot red oil, optional
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Peel the potatoes, then shred them with a Benriner (see note below); it cuts them into very thin sticks.
2. Soak these strings in cold water for one to two hours to reduce the starch in/on the potato strings; then drain, and the potatoes are ready for use.
3. Heat peanut oil in a wok or deep pan using medium heat. Add the star anise and stir until it turns black. Remove it with a slotted spoon and discard. Then, add the potato strings, and immediately add vinegar, salt, chicken accent or a substitute, sugar, and shredded ham and stir this mixture vigorously.
4. Add the sesame oil just before serving, and do serve them hot, warm, or cold. Keep in mind that the total cooking time should not be more than three minutes, not a minute longer.
Note: A Benriner is a Japanese tool used to thin slice or shred items. It is often used for the preparation of sushi. It is equipped with one or more horizontal blades for slicing and a medium- or large-toothed diagonal blade that slices and sheds at the same time. The medium tooth blade has about two dozen teeth and it is only a mite wider than two inches. This blade shreds the potato into very thin strips, sometimes called shoe-strings.

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