Kering Kentang (Spiced Potatoes)

500 gr potatoes – Choose less waxy potatoes like Russet
2 Thai red chilis – seeded and cut into strips
Cooking oil – to fry potatoes

Spiced paste:
4 kaffir lime leaves – use a scissor to cut into thin strips, remove the vein in the middle
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 cloves garlic – grated or finely minced
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 Tbsp sambal oelek – or use chili paste
2 tsp galangal powder
70 gr coconut sugar – or use dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
5 Tbsp water
2 bay leaves – or 4 dried bay leaves

To add last:
2 Tbsp Crispy fried shallots / bawang goreng

Soak the potatoes:

Peel the potatoes and use a mandoline slicer if you have one to cut the potatoes into uniform size sticks. This is important and will make your life easier when you fry them. They are cooked and get crispy at the same time. You can manually cut them too, it’s more work!

Soak the potato sticks in fresh cold water for at least 2 hours (overnight is fine too) and then drain off all the water and starch that leaks out. Do not skip the soaking part.

Use an absorbent paper towel and pat the potatoes dry.

Fry the potatoes:

Preheat about 1 1/2-inches of cooking oil over high heat. When you dip a chopstick into a oil and it bubbles around the chopstick, the oil is ready. Or you can just put one piece of potato in there and if it bubbles and floats, the oil is ready. Lower the heat to medium.

You need to fry the potatoes in 3-4 batches. DO NOT dump all at one go. Place the first batch in and fry until the potatoes are crispy and golden brown. Remove to an absorbent paper towel. Continue frying the next batch.

Prepare the spiced paste:

Place all ingredients for the spiced paste in a bowl, except for kaffir lime leaves and bay leaves.

Preheat 1 Tbsp of cooking oil in a large pan/wok. Add the kaffir lime leaves and Thai chili and fry briefly, about 10 seconds or so. Add the rest of the ingredients above and bay leaves and cook until the sauce thickens to a syrup consistency.

Add the fried potatoes into the sauce and turn off the heat. Stir to make sure the sauce is coating the potatoes. Sprinkle in the bawang goreng and stir again to mix. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Notes:

Kering kentang is best served on the same day. The kering kentang will stay crispy for one whole day. The next day, they will get significantly soggy, which is normal as the moisture from the sauce continues to soften the potatoes.

It’s not uncommon to add things like: roasted peanuts, dried anchovies, fried tempeh (tempe). I highly recommend that you fry these ingredients separately and then add them in when you are about to toss the potatoes to the sauce. This helps to keep the kering kentang crispy.

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