Stir Fried Recipe: Yunnan Sesame Potatoes

The province of Yunnan, in Southwest China, might be best known for a place of growing tea but its terroir (environmental factors, soil, climate, etc.) is excellent for growing chiles too. It borders Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Tibet to the north and comprises 25 ethnic minorities. Stir fried sesame potatoes are popular street food in Yunnan and would make for a mighty comforting meal as the seasons shift and we head into fall. The blend is made from three ingredients—black cardamom and chiles from Yunnan, and pepper from neighboring Sichuan. Our friend Marika de Vienne from Épices de Cru lived in Yunnan for three years and discovered it is truly the blend used by all the people of Yunnan on a daily basis. It is everywhere. But not found in restaurants. It’s a real home blend. So even people who have visited Yunnan may have never come across it if they have never had dinner in someone’s home. Try some in your home today!

Épices de Cru's stir fried sesame potatoes with Yunnan spicesRecipe and photo courtesy of Épices de Cru


  • 4 cups potatoes, cooked and cooled
  • 4 Tbsp black or white sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Yunnan Spices, ground
  • 4 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • Stream of roasted sesame oil


  1. Slice the potatoes and place them in a bowl with the sesame seeds and spices. Mix delicately making sure that the sesame sticks to the potatoes.
  2. Heat a wok on medium heat. Pour ¾ of the oil around the edge of the wok and add the potatoes.
  3. Even out the slices equally at the bottom and side of the wok and cook until they begin to brown (3-4 minutes). Turn them over and to cook for a few minutes more. Remove the potatoes once the sesame seeds begin to brown.
  4. Add the remaining oil, scallions and garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Return the potatoes to the wok, sprinkle with sesame oil and mix well so as to infuse the potatoes. Serve immediately with a small dish of ground Yunnan Spices as an accompaniment.