Chinese style potato salad is an easy dish that you can finish in less than 30 minutes. The potato slivers are crisp and infused with a clean and appetizing, slightly spicy flavor. In Chinese restaurants, it is served as a cold dish. The idea of a cold dish is similar to that of Turkish meze. Multiple cold dishes are usually served in small portions as an appetizer, before the hot dishes (or main dishes). That is also why cold dishes are usually very simple and use ingredients that are not overwhelming.
When cooking this potato salad at home, I always make a lot and serve it as a side dish or as a salad. Although I use chili pepper in this salad, feel free to skip it if you don’t like spicy food. It is quite amazing that although this dish contains only six ingredients (including the potato), it has so much flavor that I can easily finish a whole batch by myself in one sitting.
The dish uses a common Chinese cooking skill, that of pouring hot infused oil over blanched vegetables to create a simple yet delicious dish. The hot oil will cook the vegetables and blend the salty and garlicky flavor perfectly with the veggies. The Chinese style bok choy uses the same method.
One of the most important ingredients in this dish is the Sichuan peppercorn. Sichuan peppercorn has a spicy pungent aroma and a “numbing” taste. By cook Sichuan peppercorns in oil, the oil is infused with a nice umami, which then adds great flavor to simple vegetable dishes. In Sichuan cuisine, the most well-known chili oil also uses this peppercorn to add complicity to the spicy oil.
I have created a short video below to work you through the cooking process. If you like the video, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel! I have a collection of cooking videos that walk you through the delicious recipes at Omnivore’s Cookbook. It is one of the fastest ways for you to get used to the techniques that are used in Chinese cooking!
I hope you enjoy this recipe and have a nice week ahead!
Chinese Style Potato Salad
- 1 (300 grams / 10 ounces) large potato , shredded (preferably the waxy type)
- 2 tablespoons garlic , minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
- 2 pieces dried chili pepper, broken into 2 - 3 pieces (Optional)
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add potato, then boil until the potato is cooked through, but still crisp.
- Drain potato and rinse it with cold water, to remove the starch and maintain a firm texture. Drain and transfer potato to a large bowl.
- Add garlic to potato, sprinkle salt on top, and set aside.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a small skillet (or a wok). When the oil is warm, add peppercorn and cook them until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off heat. Use a spatula (or a ladle) to scoop out the peppercorn, then discard them. (optional) Add chili pepper and stir for a few times, until the chili pepper turns dark brown.
- Carefully pour the hot oil over the potato, and use two pairs of chopsticks to mix everything together immediately to coat potato evenly with oil and salt.
- Serve at room temperature as a side dish or as a salad.
Questions and Reviews
What an interesting technique for cooking potatoes! Your potato shreds are really uniform and look awesome. Did you use a food processor with a disk blade for that? It’s amazing what you can do with just a few ingredients. I’m definitely going to look into the Sichuan peppercorns. I’ve been eating potatoes daily (mostly baked) and would love to try something new! Pinned!
Thanks Meggan! To tell you a secret, I didn’t cut those potato shreds. It was my mom 😉 She used a normal knife to slice and I was taping the video. I will have the video up soon so you could find out the cooking process in details.
You should definitely try out the Sichuan peppercorn! It’s a very versatile spice that could be used in all types of dishes. A few amount of peppercorn goes a long way, so you can make a tasty dish with only a few ingredients. Let me know whether you like it if you tried it out! 🙂
I have never seen a cold shredded potato salad like this. As you said, it would make a perfect side dish!
This one is really a home cooking dish. I guess a lot of Chinese restaurants won’t serve it because it’s too simple. On the other hand, simplicity is the best choice for the dinner table 🙂
Just like Lokness, I’ve never seen this dish before (well, my experience is only in Chinese restaurants in San Francisco and Taiwan. LOL). My husband says “Chinese people don’t eat potatoes” when I see him leave potatoes in some of my Japanese dishes (basically he’s not a fan of potatoes). And I almost believed him because I rarely see potatoes in any of Chinese dishes at restaurants. Now you’re sharing potato salad!!! I’m going to send this link to him. Muhahaha! After all there are so many kinds of Chinese foods, so I know there is a potato dish somewhere! 😀 Looks delicious. I love potatoes!!!
Wow, this is a very interesting claim and not true! Well, I do admit potato is more of a northern China thing. Lot of oversea Chinese restaurants run by early immigrants from southern part of China. Maybe that’s why you didn’t find it in restaurants in San Francisco and Taiwan. We cook potato in stew (chicken and pork) or stir-fry dishes. They are widely used in home cooking, so maybe that’s the other reason that restaurants seldom serve it. (地味過ぎかも？) Potato in China is not as popular as it’s in the US, but we do eat them 🙂
This Chinese potato salad is totally new to me.. I have never seen something like this before. You definitely have got me curious to know what it tastes like. Thanks for the inspiration!
Thanks Thalia! The flavor of toasted Sichuan peppercorn might sound unfamiliar, but try it out if you get a chance. It has a very interesting taste 🙂
Oh this is a good one Maggie! I am sooo thrilled to finally have a recipe to make this dish. I remember traveling through Beijing and eating this dish at so many meals, yet when I came back to the US I had no idea how to make it or even what it was called. No one makes this here, but it’s so delicious and such a unique way to eat potatoes. Thank you so much for the post–will definitely be making this dish over the weekend! 🙂
Hi Bonnie, it’s really great to hear someone here tried this dish before! I was worried that this dish is too unfamiliar to non-Chinese readers and nobody want to try it out! Do let me know the result if you try this out. I hope it tastes as good as the ones you had in China 🙂
I LOVE this!!! We Koreans make a similar dish with potatoes and also radishes (separately) . . love this and pinned!!
Interesting! What ingredients you use in the Korean version? I think I had the radish one in Korean restaurant before, a spicy one. I’d like to try out the Korean version of this potato dish too!
This is such an interesting way to make potato salad – it actually makes much more sense in this Chinese style! Looks delicious!
Thanks Jessica! Glad you like this one 🙂
This looks pretty awesome! Do you know what variety of potato you used? I am wondering whether it should be a waxy one or a mealy one.
This dish supposes to use the waxy type of potato, because it requires the potato to hold shape and remain crispy after blanched. But I found out by washing the blanched potato with cold water, the mealy one works too. But if you can find both, always choose the waxy one first. Thanks for reminding me, I just added the information in the post! 🙂
I’ve actually tried this before at a Chinese restaurant down the street from my apartment. It was different, but definitely tasty. I’m sure this homemade version would be even better! Besides…you never really know what’s going into your food at a restaurant.
It’s so interesting to hear that the Chinese restaurants in the US serve this dish too! Yeah, I agree that the homemade version is much healthier, without using MSG and cooked with less oil.
How spicy does the oil get with the addition of the pepper? I want the flavor but not the heat. Medically, I can only handle a bit of spice before I end up with gastrointestinal issues (it’s a real bummer) but I don’t want to not have any flavor. Plus I have a 4 year old to contend with. I’ve never had Chinese potato salad, but am very intrigued.
Hi Michelle, the dried chili pepper in this recipe will infuse some spiciness, but far from Tabasco kind of hotness. If you cannot handle the heat, you could use the whole chili pepper instead of breaking them (breaking the pepper will increase spiciness significantly). Or you could just ignore the chili pepper. The most important ingredients in this recipe are the Sichuan peppercorn and garlic. The salad will be still tasty even without the pepper.
Thanks for great site. You put a lot of effort in to it. Nice photographs.
What is the nearest thing to Sichuan peppercorn if you don’t have any?
Roughly how long do you take to blanch the potato strips for at the beginning? I will be using waxy potatoes.
In this recipe, I blanched the potato strips for 4 minutes, until it’s cooked through but still crispy.
For the replacement to Sichuan peppercorns, I’d say there’s no real substitute for as unique a flavor as these (especially the umami from the numbness of the peppercorns). I think black pepper will be the nearest thing. But I never tried to cook this recipe with black pepper, so not sure whether the dish will come out right.
If you have Chinese five spice, you could replace the peppercorn with 1/2 teaspoon of it. Or you could add more dried chili pepper flakes to create a spicier oil. Hope this will be helpful.
Happy cooking and let me know how it goes!
This looks wonderful. I love Sichuan peppercorns and chilis! Might tone down the garlic a bit by roasting it or using garlic chives. I don’t use peanut oil so will use rice bran oil. I know it’s not in the recipe but I’m thinking a bit of rice vinegar would go well with this. Thanks!!!!
Hi Chieko, I’m glad to hear you like this recipe! If you are planning to roast the garlic, make sure to roast it in the rice bran oil you’ll drizzle on the salad. It will infuse the oil a nice garlicky flavor. Yep, a bit of rice vinegar sounds lovely. I like the idea 🙂 Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out!
Gorgeous photos Maggie! Love your composition and simple ingredients. My boys would be all over this as they anti-mayo boys… well at least one is anyways. Sharing and smoke signals sent!
This looks really nice (: Just a few questions; about how long does it take to boil the potatoes, about how many garlic cloves did it use and would it still be fine if I used normal peppercorns? Looking forward to making this recipe (:
Hi Lydia, The boiling time is really short. I don’t remember exactly how long, but it should be a minute or so. The best way is to taste the potatoes and let it cook to the texture you like.
You need plenty of garlic, about 4 to 5 cloves. Sichuan peppercorns work the best. If you don’t have any, you can try to use black pepper instead.
Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out 🙂
Is there a way to make this ahead of time, say for a dinner party? Perhaps make it the night before?
OMG, i just made this recipe, and both my husband and I are raving about this! We’re Swedes. and as such we eat A LOT of potatoes. But we’ve never tried them like this. Only goes to show that the Chinese cuisine is superior! I was a bit sceptical to blanching the potatoes quickly, as we Swedes usually boil them to death, but oh my, this is a new favorite. My husband, who is not only crazy about potatoes, but also about Chinese food in general, asked to get a bowl of this as a ”writing snack” in front the computer. He’s munching away atm! This is also great since we’ve become vegetarians for climate reasons, and we need all veggie recipes we can lay our hands on. I’m so grateful for this recipe, thanks a lot!
Yummy! I fried the garlic in the oil at the same time as the peppers.
stay well! please recommend the receipt for cooking the Chinese potato salad not with pics ingredient.
i love your cooking
Hi, this is the recipe I’ve been searching for. My bi racial daughter asked for potato salad. I did the creamy/mayo version.
We tried a similar recipe with black vinegar – also a “no”.
Other recipes say to stir fry, but I’ve always been hesitant, as you can’t control some shreds cooking more than the other.
Seasonings will be tested soon, but I know I’m off to the right start.