Spicy Chili Crisp Potato Salad (Liang Ban Tu Dou)
The thinly sliced potatoes (a mandoline makes slicing quicker if you have one) cook until just tender so they keep their shape, but if they do fall apart, they'll taste every bit as delicious.
Equipment: Spice grinder or mortar and pestle
Tips: Chili crisp: This chili oil condiment made with fried onions, garlic, chiles and Sichuan peppercorns is like a crunchy paste. Seasoned liberally with MSG, sugar and salt, chili crisp is mainly used on its own or in cold Sichuan sauces rather than in cooking. Lao Gan Ma brand is popular and widely available, but there are many chili crisps on the market, including a Trader Joe's version.
Sichuan chili oil: A Sichuan spice blend is infused into the oil, which is mixed with chile pepper flakes (not fried). The oil can be strained and the flakes used separately.
Zhenjiang black vinegar: Sometimes labeled "Chinkiang," this delicately sour rice vinegar seasoned with sugar and salt is used in virtually all cold Sichuan noodle and vegetable sauces, and in other sweet and sour dishes.
Sichuan peppercorn oil: A fragrant finishing oil infused with essential oils extracted from the Sichuan peppercorn. It has a smoother taste than the whole spice yet enough zing to wake up the mouth.
Sichuan peppercorns: Sichuan peppercorns (a member of the citrus family and unrelated to black peppercorns) have a citrusy aroma and supply the numbing half of the signature flavor of Sichuan food.