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MY relationship with dining-out for western cuisines in Beijing has been for the past 5 years, at best, a struggle of love and hate.  The incentive for attempting such silly missions is simple.  If you were living in Beijing, most of the times your best shot at some happiness at least is to make yourself feel like, you weren’t.  And sometimes, you know, the right restaurants can do that.

But unfortunately, for far too many times, I’ve sat on a taxi-ride home fed with the fury of underwhelming meals, overcharged bills, and all together more often than not, a complementary cocktail of clueless and laughable services.  In the end, I guess one could argue that all along, the true idiot had always been, perhaps, me.  Because I was the one who’s been looking for cow’s milk in a rat’s asshole, trying to match the standard of what’s available here with that of New York.

I was the real joke.


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So then, I stopped.  Without expectations or willingness, I stopped gambling on western cuisines here in general.  Well, “in general” I said.  Despite my best effort to survive within a vacuum, apparently there are still occasional and advisable social interactions that occur, and last week one such as that, landed me in a restaurant serving, alarmingly, “mixed international” cuisines (aka, a fucking bit of everything), which proved again that the western food-scene in Beijing remained largely… unpredictable.  Except this time, in a good way.

Just a quick briefing on the things we ordered should tell you why I had so little faith in their deliverance:  Italian tomato and arugula pizza, French mini beef wellington, Indian spiced chicken biryani, Thai-style spiced chicken biryani… and at last, potato chips and herbs salad.

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See?  Practically an open-face mistake.  But no!  Surprisingly, in general, everything were all pretty tasty (that or I have been completely broken…).  Most surprisingly of all, the dish I desperately ordered because they didn’t serve French fries, the potato chips and herbs salad, changed my mind.

Basic common sense would tell you to keep potato chips at an arm’s length from anything that’s remotely wet or obnoxiously healthy, let alone something that embodies both – a salad!  But who would’ve thought?  It worked!


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The crunchy saltiness went peas-in-a-pod with the tangy sharpness of the lightly dressed cilantro, more refreshing than the more commonly practiced crispy fried herbs, but far more addictive with the play of conflicting textures and flavours.  This thought was rare from my western dining experience in Beijing, but right then I thought to myself, you guys should really know about this.

Of course, you could use straight-up store-bought kettle-cooked potato chips for a quick fix, but you’d be surprised, as I was again, at how easy it is to fry your own at home.  Incentive?  Because the carelessly burnt edges, slightly warm body and pops of flaky sea salt on a batch of homemade potato chips, to the fanciest overcharged gourmet bag you can buy – incomparable.  Then when they’re gently folded with this boosted version of herbs salad, with fresh meaty cilantros, mints and thai basils, lightly coated in a lime juice, chilis and fish sauce dressing – mind bending.

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This started my 2015 resolution – of being less of a judgmental ass.  And if you were planning on starting your new year with one like say, eat healthier, then likewise for you,  a makeover on potato chips wouldn’t be the worst place to start is what I’m saying.






  • 1 handful fresh mint
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 handful fresh Thai basil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 small red chili, finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
  • Lime wedges to serve


  1. Wash and dry the herbs with a clean towel, then set aside in a bowl. Combine vegetable oil, lime juice, fish sauce, diced red chili, ground black pepper and light brown sugar in a jar. Shake well then set aside.
  2. Wash and peel the potato. Set the slicer on 1.5mm thickness over a large bowl of water, then slice the potato so it drops right into the water. Gently rub each slices to get rid of excess starch, then lay flat between 2 clean towels and dab to dry.
  3. Add enough vegetable oil into a deep cast-iron skillet or frying-pot, until it reaches 1 1/2" deep. Set over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 320F/160C with a thermometer (or until it bubbles up steadily around an inserted wooden chopstick), then keep the temperature there during cooking. Scatter the sliced potatoes into the pot without crowding, flipping/turning them frequently until golden browned on both sides, approx 3~4 min. Pick out the potato chips that are ready as you go, drain well then set aside over a sheet of paper-towel. Repeat with the rest of the potato chips.
  4. Season the chips with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Shake the dressing again then mix evenly with the fresh herbs (use only enough dressing to coat). Arrange the potato chips and herb salad in layers, then serve immediately with lime wedges.


Obviously you can use store-bought kettle-cooked potato chips if you don't want to fry your own.

Most homemade potato chips recipes suggest heating the oil to 400F/200C, but I find that it burns the edges way too fast before the center gets crispy. A lower temperature around 320F/160C cooks the potato chips much more evenly.

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  • Belinda @themoonblushbaker

    January 5, 2015 at 12:08 AM Reply

    Gosh you have seriously made chips acceptable as a lunch salad! SO bright, vibrant and crisp that I almost forgot the potatoes were fried.Outstanding Mandy!

  • Millie | Add A Little

    January 5, 2015 at 12:42 AM Reply

    This looks ridiculously insane Mandy! If I served this at a party I think I would win an award!

  • June Burns

    January 5, 2015 at 1:40 AM Reply

    Oh my! I’d be all over this salad…such a lovely meal :)

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    January 5, 2015 at 3:01 AM Reply

    Potato chip salad?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!! This is the best!!

  • Jasmine

    January 5, 2015 at 3:57 AM Reply

    No, I don’t think store bought potato chips would be acceptable. This is genius.

  • Rebecca @ displacedhousewife.com

    January 5, 2015 at 3:58 AM Reply

    This looks delishhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

  • Jasmine

    January 5, 2015 at 5:53 AM Reply

    I find that frying the chips on the lower temp for a couple minutes until softened, then removing, raising the oil temp and frying a second time results in the crispiest of chips. It does take a little longer to do it in two rounds, but the crunch is worth it.

  • Noodle

    January 5, 2015 at 5:57 AM Reply

    Love your blog!
    We invite you to come by and visit our little blog at; http://www.herecomesnoodle.blogspot.com

    Noodle and crew

  • Christina @ The Beautiful Balance

    January 6, 2015 at 12:59 AM Reply

    You evil genius! I’m convincing myself that as long as herbs are involved this is considered healthy haha!

  • kristie {birch and wild}

    January 6, 2015 at 11:06 AM Reply

    Whoah, these look too good to be true!

  • Melissa

    January 7, 2015 at 2:00 AM Reply

    Holy shit! Without having to touch one leafy green, you just allowed me to say “I had a salad for lunch” with total honesty.

    I love you.

  • Bec

    January 8, 2015 at 8:21 PM Reply

    Oh my… these look dreamy. I am swooning, those images! Also completly unrelated, you just clarified how to make my thermomoter work. Yo move the ball up and down depending on height? Lightbulb moment!!!!! Bec x

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      January 8, 2015 at 8:57 PM Reply

      Bec, hahaaha yes! that red ball there isn’t just for decoration :)

  • Brooke @ Chocolate & Marrow

    January 9, 2015 at 7:23 AM Reply

    These are quite possibly the most beautiful potato chips I’ve ever seen! I want to eat them. All of them.

  • Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen

    January 14, 2015 at 11:49 PM Reply

    How on earth have I missed this post? This and beer = yes!

  • PamNeedsCoffee in Suzhou

    January 18, 2015 at 7:22 PM Reply

    I found your blog just in time. 6 months into Expatville down here in Suzhou (near Shanghai, but not close enough for dinner). The “we do it all” western food restaurants are horrible and i’m sick of it. So I am trying harder to cook at home. You are fucking awesome.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      January 20, 2015 at 5:07 PM Reply

      Pam, hahaaa hang in there! We’ll stick it out together :)

  • Yin and Yolk

    February 1, 2015 at 1:55 PM Reply

    These look so amazing!!! Just in time for the Super Bowl.

  • Lea

    March 28, 2015 at 7:03 AM Reply

    Looks wonderful and I’m definitely going to try this! This is similar to another Pinterest post I found with Roasted /Baked Garlic Cilantro fries which I’ve since made several times. Love anything with cilantro. Not sure where I’d get Thai basil though?? Thanks – this recipe is a keeper!

  • Lima

    May 14, 2015 at 9:11 PM Reply

    Woow i so wanna make this
    How do i make fish suace or do i buy it?!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      May 15, 2015 at 5:00 PM Reply

      Lima, I guess theoretically you can make your own fish sauce but I wouldn’t go there… It should be widely available in Asian supermarkets or online :)

  • Angela

    December 15, 2015 at 8:50 AM Reply

    Gosh this was yummy. I took a shortcut though (how could I!? ashamed of myself) and bought the most expensive packet of chips at the supermarket. When I thought it couldn’t get any better I doused my rice in a sweet, sticky caramel soy sauce and put the salad on top. Gosh.

  • Tyler

    February 21, 2018 at 4:02 PM Reply

    Do you think I could sub sweet potato chips? Long story about why I’m proposing this, but I’m thinking the subtle sweetness could play nicely with the tart, salty intensity of the “salad”. Blasphemy?

    • Tyler

      February 21, 2018 at 4:04 PM Reply

      Also, not sure if I can get a comparable texture – chewy/crunchy from a sweet potato. Thoughts?

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