This is one of those dishes that had such an impact on me the first time I ate it, I could not stop thinking about it. In fact, it was the first recipe I developed for this book. I ate it at my favorite Chinese restaurant in town, Grand Szechuan, where Guanghe Luo is the chef. I marveled at how perfectly long and noodle-like the potatoes were, with an underlying smokiness that can only come from high heat and quick cooking. Some renditions of this dish from the southern region of China include the blackened heat of dried red chiles and the numbing quality of Sichuan peppercorns. If inappropriately imbalanced in the hands of the wrong cook, that would be a disaster.
I have tried it in several other restaurants and have not been happy. So my version keeps to the original rendition I fell in love with, a perfect balance of hot, smoky, acidic, and salty. I love eating the blackened chiles between mouthfuls of the potatoes; it gives me the benefit of wispy heat masked by the starchiness of the potatoes and the acidity of Chinese black vinegar. – Raghavan Iyer