You will be surprised to learn that the texture of potatoes when quickly stir fried is so unique and different from the cooked potatoes you know. Pork and potato stir fry turns the potatoes into something totally different from the usual dishes like baked potatoes, potato salads and mashed potatoes. And it is so quick to make and yummy.
I found this dish in the cook book I bought when I first got married. I was keen to cook and try new dishes as my mother was not a good cook at all and her repertoire was limited. And so was mine as a consequence.
This cook book was first published in 1972 and its title is “Osozaifuu Gaikoku Ryori (おそうざいふう外国料理, Japanese Home Style Western dishes)”. It sounds strange but basically the Western style dishes and the Chinese dishes are somewhat modified to suit the Japanese palette, using common Japanese seasonings where appropriate.
Half of the recipes in this book are Chinese dishes and the other half are from Europe, although they classify as Western Style dishes. There are no Middle Eastern dishes; nor Indian or South Asian. It really reflects the food culture of Japan at the time. There is German style rolled cabbage, French style potato soup, Greek style carrots and Irish stew to name a few.
I actually checked the Irish stew recipe in this book. Season chunks of pork belly and cook them in water with onions, potatoes, and bay leaves for a couple of hours. Adjust to taste with salt. That’s about it.
I understand that the traditional Irish stew uses lamb. Japanese people are not used to eating lamb so I can understand why pork was used in this recipe. But cooking in just water without using soup stock is a very traditional way of cooking Irish Stew and I was quite impressed with the recipe.
I have tried recipes selectively from this cookbook. Aren’t we all like this? Buy a cook book only for few favourite recipes! One recipe I always came back to from this cook book was “Pork and Potato Stir Fry” from the Chinese section.
I picked this up to try because it had a note in the recipe saying that people who tasted this dish said “Are they potatoes?”. This little note got me curious. And they were right. The potatoes were quite different from what you usually expect them to be. They even had a touch of crunchiness.
The secret to the unique texture of the potatoes is blanching before stir frying. It is also important to cut the potatoes into the consistent thickness of matchsticks. This will ensure that every one of the potato pieces is cooked to the same texture.
The original recipe uses beef instead of pork but I like pork better. Pork should also be sliced into thin strips to match with the shape of the potatoes and so should the shallots (scallions). And that’s all it is – just 3 ingredients. Flavouring is also simple with ginger, soy sauce, salt and sesame oil. Over time, I have adjusted amount of seasoning to suit to my family’s palette.
Since potatoes and shallots (scallions) are almost staple ingredients of many households, if you have pork (or beef for that matter) in the fridge, you can make a simple yet yummy dish like this in no time.
You will notice that today’s post is rather short. It is hard to write a lot when the ingredients are common and no special techniques are required unlike other traditional Japanese dishes. But this is a good thing, isn’t it?
- 150-200g (0.3-0.4lb) pork (note 1)
- 2 medium size potatoes (note 2)
- 2 shallots (scallions)
- 2.5cm (1”) cube ginger
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 1/3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sake (Japanese rice wine)
- 2 tsp water
- Salt to adjust flavour
- ½ tsp sesame oil
Peel and slice the potatoes into 3 mm (1/8”) thick disks. With a few disks together at a time, cut them into 3 mm (1/8”) matchsticks and leave them in a bowl of water while preparing other ingredients. It is important to make the thickness of the matchsticks consistent.
Thinly slice pork 5 mm (1/4”) thick, then cut the slices into 3mm (1/8”) wide strips.
Finely slice shallots diagonally into similar lengths to the potatoes. Put aside several slices of shallots for garnish (optional). Julienne ginger finely.
Boil 1 - 1.5L (0.26 - 0.4gal) of water in a kettle. Place potato sticks in a large colander and pour the boiled water over them, occasionally shaking the colander to ensure that all the potato sticks are blanched. Drain well. (note 3)
Add oil to a large frypan or a wok and heat over high heat. Add ginger and sauté for about 30 seconds.
Add pork, then add soy sauce. Stir fry until the colour of the pork changes. Reduce heat to low and add sake and water, and stir until the pork is cooked through – about 1 - 2 minutes.
Add potatoes and stir to coat the potatoes with sauce.
Once potatoes are coated with sauce, add shallots and stir for 30 seconds or so then turn the heat off.
Adjust the flavour with salt if required. Sprinkle sesame oil over the stir fry and lightly mix.
1. You could use sliced pork belly if available. This will save your time. You could also use other cuts of pork meat except stewing meat. If the meat is lean, you may want to increase the oil by ½ tablespoon.
You could also use beef instead of pork.
2. My potato was 385g (0.8lb) in total. You could use 1 large or 3 small potatoes that weigh about 400g (14.1oz). But bear in mind that you would want to make matchsticks of about 4 - 5cm (1½” – 2”) length.
3. Other method of blanching: Boil water enough to cover the potato matchsticks in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the potato matchsticks into the saucepan for 10-15 second, then drain well using colander.