How to make Chinese street food?-Spicy ‘Freestyle’ Fries? The city of Guiyang in Guizhou is one of the last great bastions of street food in China.
And while like pretty much everywhere in the world, the vendors are inevitably losing their war of attrition against the forces of Apollo, the markets that remain are still pretty first rate.
You can find everything from assorted rice rolls to fermented tomato hotpot, but if you pushed us for the one snack that’s
the most common of them all, the one you see again and again, from street corner to street corner – it’s probably gotta be guailu yangyu, or ‘freestyle’ potato fries.
And why not? They’re spicy, saucy, herbaceous, and just a great snack to eat on the go.
Now I adore this dish, but there is one expectation that we gotta set straight here at first.
How To Make Chinese Street Food?-spicy ‘freestyle’ Fries?
These fries are not crispy – go into this expecting something texturally a lot closer to, I dunno, a baked potato. Because really?
These guys aren’t really even about the potato – it’s really just a vehicle for
the sauce, which’s the true essence of the dish. So let’s sort that first.
Now, of course, this’s definitely one of those things where like every single vendor is gonna have their own mix.
Our sauce today is based off a specific vendor that’s around the corner from Guiyang Erzhong on Zhonglie
street, which’s currently our favorite potato in Guiyang.
One of the bases of their sauce though is the liquid from a certain Guizhou style of Lacto-fermented pickles, which unfortunately
throws a nasty wrench into our whole mimic-for-international-replication project.
Luckily though, there is a sort of lacto-fermented pickled vegetable that’s available pretty much worldwide, and that is Korean kimchi.
And while there’s not much of a Korean community where we live here in Shunde, luckily our local Dongbei barbecue joint also makes some phenomenal homemade Harbin-style kimchi, which is pretty much the same thing.
So while this’s undeniably our own sort of riff here, we did find that a base of diluted kimchi juice ended up working really well for this dish in the end.
So right, to make the sauce then first combine two tablespoons of kimchi liquid together with two tablespoons of water,but if you’re
in the habit of making lacto-fermented Sichuan or Guizhou pickles obviously feel free to use that instead.
Then to that, toss in a tablespoon and a half of dark Chinese vinegar, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, a tablespoon of chili powder – and feel free to use a bog-standard cayenne pepper, one teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorn oil, a teaspoon of sugar, a half teaspoon salt, and a half teaspoon MSG.
Mix well, and set that aside.
Now, the other big flavor component going on with this dish is the herbs. This was just 15 grams of scallion, finely sliced,
15 grams of cilantro, roughly chopped, 40 grams of pickled Daikon which we’ve got a recipe for but the Japanese or Vietnamese sort would also work great and our second annoyingly impossible to source ingredient of the day, 25 grams of Yuxingcao a.k.a. Fish
Now, this guy is the root of the Houttuynia Cordata plant, it’s intensely aromatic, and unless you’re coming to this video from some sort of herby utopian future I pretty much guarantee you won’t be able to find it.
Our recommended sub for the stuff is the root of cilantro, but I know that cilantro-with-root also probably isn’t exactly available at your local Krogers. So if you’re out of luck just charge forward without, in the end it is a tertiary ingredient here .I promise.
So right, now for the potatoes. Here we’ve got three medium-sized Yukon golds, or 550 grams worth in all. Just give them a slice
into half-inch sheets, and slice those sheets in the other direction to get fries.
Here we’re using one of those cool little crinkle-cut knives, which maximizes the fries’ sauce-retention ability, but do consider that crinkle cut optional-but-recommended.
Then just like how you’d prep fries in the Western style, toss them in a bowl of cool water, give em a quick jostle to get off some of the surface starch, then pour the water out and repeat.
This process helps prevent the fries from browning before they get fully cooked. Then just fill that bowl up with water, and let those soak for at least 30 minutes.
30 minutes later now, remove the fries and give them a quick pat dry.
Now to a large not-sticky saucepan toss in enough oil to get up about half an inch.
Then just heat that up to about 120 centigrade, or until it’s just barely bubbling around a pair of chopsticks, then and add in your fries. For this dish, it’s actually ok if your fries end up crowding a little bit, because we’ll be lowering the flame to medium and frying these at about 100 to 120 centigrade for six minutes.
You can give them a flip or two about halfway through if needed what you’re looking for is the fries to lose their ‘color’
and become a bit translucent.
When you try one, it should be cooked through but not disintegrate, and it’s totally fine to leave these a bit on the ‘al dente’ side if you’re ok with that texture. Now heat off, and transfer the fries over to a mixing bowl.
So then just add your sauce, give it a gentle mix, add in the herbs, and give it another gentle mix.
Transfer over to a bowl to munch on, and with that, your guailu yangyu are done.
As close as we could possibly get them to the streets of Guiyang.
So we translated Guailu as “freestyle”,but you can actually think of guailu as more of a flavor profile.
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