Fingers of purple potato

Fingers of purple potato

Green Pickled Peaches
4 as a small plate
Chris Chen

This dish started from a thought about the visual appeal of neatly aligned shapes. I then moved to thinking about the visual appeal of colour, and the choice of purple potato sprang from there. The technique for cooking the pork in this recipe is derived from a Hakka Chinese dish of taro and pork belly with fermented red bean curd, which, coincidentally, is all about the importance of moulding and alignment.

For the steamed pork belly


Quantity Ingredient
500g deboned pork belly, skin on
1 tablepoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, plus 1 tablespoon
peanut oil, for deep-frying, plus 2 tablespoons
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
50ml brandy
2 pieces preserved red bean curd
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 star anise
1 tablespoon sugar

For the purple potato dough

Quantity Ingredient
300g purple congo potatoes
90ml boiling water
60g wheat starch
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
peanut oil, for deep-frying

For the lemon salt

Quantity Ingredient
3 lemons, zested, grated on an microplane
3 lemons, juiced, strained
70g salt


  1. Steam the pork belly:
  2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, remove from the heat and add the pork belly. Leave for 20 minutes. Refresh in iced water, dry thoroughly and prick the skin all over. Mix the light soy sauce with 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce and rub all over the pork. Heat peanut oil in a deep-fryer to 200°C and deep-fry the pork until golden. Drain on paper towels and then refresh again in cold water. Drain, dry and set aside.
  3. Heat a frying pan over medium heat, pour in 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and fry the garlic and ginger until fragrant. Mash the brandy and red bean curd together and add to the frying pan with the five spice powder and star anise. Cook for long enough for the rawness of the alcohol in the brandy to evaporate a little. Add the 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce and sugar. Taste to see whether the sauce is salty and sweet and adjust if required. Cut the pork into 2 cm wide strips and mix with the sauce. Transfer to a heatproof container and cover with foil. Put in a steamer over high heat and steam for 45–55 minutes until the pork is tender and melting. Cool, then put in the refrigerator to cool completely before using.
  4. Make the purple potato dough:
  5. Peel the potatoes, cut into 1 cm thick pieces and steam until cooked. Immediately pass through a potato ricer, or press through a drum sieve onto the workbench. Mix the boiling water and wheat starch together in a bowl to form a stiff paste. While still as hot as possible, break the starch into pieces over the pile of potato. Knead together, pressing the dough against the bench with the palm of your hand to ensure the potato and starch are mixed thoroughly. Break this mixture into pieces so it is easier to incorporate the next ingredients. The dough should only be warm at this stage; if it is too hot the butter will melt beyond control and be difficult to combine. Knead in the butter, baking powder, salt and sugar. The dough should be dry enough that it doesn’t stick to your hands, but be smooth and tacky. Test by deep-frying a small sample ball in peanut oil at 180°C. It should form threads but not dissolve in the heat. If it does dissolve, increase the heat by 5°C and try again. If it continues to dissolve, add more starch mixed with boiling water.
  6. Make the lemon salt:
  7. Blanch the lemon zest in boiling water and refresh under cold running water. Repeat this twice more to get rid of the bitter tasting oil. Place the lemon juice in a pan and heat to just below simmering point. Dissolve the salt in the juice. Mix in the drained, dried zest. Pour the near-saturated solution onto a non-reactive baking tray and place in a barely warm oven for about 6 hours to evaporate the solution. Grind the salt to a fine powder.
  8. Make the pork fingers:
  9. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each into a 7 x 5 cm rectangle. Put a strip of pork in the middle of each rectangle. Fold over the long sides to join and press all the cut sides together. Aim for a finished shape of 6.5 x 2.5 cm. Ensure that the filling is fully covered and the pastry has not cracked. If there are cracks, seal with a little water as a last resort, but this will affect the formation of threads during deep-frying. Deep-fry in batches until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with lemon salt.
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