CLOUD 9, LIKE HOW YOU MADE MY DAY, AND YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO EAT POTATOES ANY OTHER WAYS AGAIN
Today, I woke up, and as I spent the next 1:30 hours removing microscopic dead leaves off of my succulent-babies with an eyebrow tweezer, I was utterly oblivious of the surprise that was waiting, patiently, in my email-box. A tweet from Molly telling me of the enormous gift, from you, for name Lady and Pups as the winner for Best Photography for Saveur’s Food Blog Award.
I am speechless. Looking at the other candidates whose photography make me want to lower my head into a bucket of sour cream, I am, absolutely, without words. At times like these, to show gratitude, I guess people make grand gestures. But grand-ness doesn’t reflect how I feel. How I feel, as I’m typing, is humility. For the past 3 years, including times when I didn’t exactly deserve it, humbled by your support, tolerance, for giving me the benefit of the doubt, and above all… humbled by the kind of friendship you offer me, more real than many other forms I’ve ever known.
I’m not particularly good at moments like these. I think I am less incompetent at being sarcastic… making bad jokes out of serious matters. But now, I’m out of words. So instead, I wanted to make you something simple, something earnest in its candor, something stripped off of theatrics, like how you made me feel today. Something with the purest intent to bring you incandescent joy when you take the first shattering bite, the airiest potato ribbon-hash that is both lofty and fluffy inside, sandwiched in between two impossibly crispy layers of chips-like crusts. Cloud-9, like how you’ve made my day, and you’ll never want to eat potatoes any other ways again. Because when conversing fails me, this is all I have left, for the lack of my better ability to say, thank you.
So really. Thank you.
Makes: 1 medium sized potato makes one 6~7″ (15~17 cm) hash brown
What makes this hash brown different, is the long and wide and paper-thin, twirling potato ribbons that give it its volume and loftiness, as well as how their wide contact-surfaces lay flat on the skillet, and get crisped up like potato chips. To make this chips-like hash browns, I want you to spend the equivalent amount of money which would otherwise be wasted either on a pack of cigarette or a few bags of gummy bears, and go now, and buy what I consider one of the must-have gadgets of a home-kitchen – a stainless steel truffle shaver. This is what I think is one of the most utterly under-appreciated piece of kitchen-inventions, as affordable and easy to store as it is, that will help you shave translucently paper-thin slices of… well, almost anything within the width of 2 1/2″ (6cm). Zucchinis, garlics, radishes, anything and everything which includes the star of the day – potatoes. I’m talking about the kind of thinness that not even most mandolins will grant you. I’m talking about 0.5 mm or thinner! And it fits in your pocket! Or, okay, fine, go ahead and spend $100+ on a professional mandolin that eats away your cabinet space with its million pieces of attachments. What do I know…
- 1 medium-sized waxy potato
- 1 tbsp canola oil, plus more if needed
- 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
- When choosing a potato, aim for the one that is relatively long in length so it'll give us long ribbons. Peel the potato then cut length-wise into thick slices about 1/2" (13 mm) in width. Adjust your truffle shaver to around 0.5 mm (kind of the thickness of postcards), then run the potato-slices length-wise back and forth through the shaver to make very thin and long ribbons, until it gets too difficult to keep shaving. Please don't obsess with getting the last bit of potato shaved. That little chunk is not worth shaving a layer of your finger off. Fluff the ribbons with your fingers to make sure they are not sticking to each other, then set aside.
- Do not season during cooking or it'll cause the potato to sweat and lose volume. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil inside a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Grab 1/2 of the potato ribbons and make a tall mount in the center of the skillet that is about 6" wide and 2" tall (15 cm wide, 5 cm tall). Don't let the ribbons touch the side of the skillet, which will apply too much heat and cause them to lose volume. If you want to be anal about making a nice circle, you can use a ring-mold when placing the ribbons in the skillet, then slowly remove the ring-mold when done. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for 3 min, then pile the rest of the potato ribbons on top (again, this prevents over-cooking and loss of volume)(you can place the ring-mold back again for this step, then remove it slowly when done). Drizzle 1 tsp of melted butter from the side of the skillet and cook for another 2 min, until you see the bottom of the hash brown is golden browned and crispy. Flip it over, add more canola oil if needed, then cook for another 5 min on the other side, and drizzle another tsp of melted butter at the last minute.
- Season the bottom of a plate generously with sea salt and black pepper, and transfer the hash brown on top (so the bottom side is seasoned), then season the top side again generously. Serve immediately.
Canola oil browns the hash more evenly, while the last-minute butter adds flavours.