It's really important your Sichuan peppercorns are fresh for the best flavour, so buy a fresh packet. The pastries can be made ahead and refrigerated, ready to be fried just before serving. You could also fry them beforehand and reheat them in a warm oven.
- 600 gm Desiree potatoes (about 3), diced
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or lard
- 1 small onion, diced
- 100 gm mild pancetta, finely diced
- 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped coriander
- For deep-frying: vegetable oil
- 100 gm lard, melted and cooled
- 200 gm (1 cups) self-raising flour
- 250 gm plain flour (1 cups)
- 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 1For lard pastry, combine lard, flours, 160ml water and a pinch of fine sea salt in a bowl, and knead until a smooth dough forms. If dough is too sticky, add extra flour. Cover with plastic wrap and stand to rest (30 minutes).
- 2Boil potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water until tender (6-10 minutes). Drain and set aside uncovered to steam dry (10 minutes).
- 3Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add onion and pancetta and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is very tender (8-10 minutes). Add Sichuan pepper and stir until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add potato, stir until potato has absorbed the pan fat, then add coriander, season to taste with salt and cool.
- 4Divide pastry into 20 even pieces. On a lightly floured surface, halve each piece, then roll each half to an 8cm round. Place a scant tablespoonful of potato mixture in the centre of one round, cover with the other round, press edges together to seal, then carefully lift the edges and pleat around in one direction to secure. Place on a lightly floured tray and repeat with remaining dough and potato mixture.
- 5Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180C. Add pastries in batches and fry, turning occasionally, until golden (4-6 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit), drain on paper towels, then repeat with remaining pastries.
- 6For Sichuan salt, pound the peppercorns and salt with a mortar and pestle. Serve pastries warm sprinkled with Sichuan salt to taste.