From Susanna Foo Fresh Inspiration: New Approaches to Chinese Cuisine by Susanna Foo with Hermie Kranzdorf (Houghton Mifflin, 2005). © 2005 by Susanna Foo.
Still popular in northern China, this salad is nothing like heavy American potato salad: there's no mayonnaise, for one thing. The potatoes are lightly blanched so they keep their crispy texture. When mixed with the airy cellophane noodles, sesame oil, and vinegar, they make a light and tasty salad--a great companion to grilled meat or poultry. I like it at room temperature, but it's also good cold.
Note that you could cook the potatoes and carrot in the same pot of boiling water you use for the noodles, but not the other way around; the potatoes give off starch, so the water would be too gluey for the noodles.
Cut the cooked cellophane noodles into 2-inch lengths.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice and water. Cook the potatoes and carrot in the boiling water until barely tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain well and plunge into the ice water. Drain again, place in a bowl, and mix in the cellophane noodles.
Mix the corn or olive oil with the garlic and jalapeÃ’o in a small glass bowl and microwave on high power for 1 minute. Or cook in a small saucepan over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic softens. Stir in the sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Mix the dressing and cilantro into the potato salad. Serve at room temperature, cold, or warm. The salad will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days. It can be warmed in a microwave oven or in a skillet for a few minutes to take off the chill.