Our best shoestring fries recipe makes crunchy matchstick fries, which are the perfect side for everything from fried chicken, burgers and sandwiches to barbecued meats and beef Stroganoff. Tuck into these super-crispy skinny potato fries as you would French fries or wedges, sprinkled with your favourite salts or spices or doused in home-made condiments such as Sriracha, mayo or sweet chilli sauce.
My best shoestring fries recipe will make you crispy matchstick fries which I like to serve just as I would my hand-cut fries or potato wedges, as a companion to fried chicken or beer-battered fried fish (they’re fantastic dipped into our easy homemade tartare sauce), meat pies and sausage rolls, or sandwiches and burgers.
Lara serves shoestring fries with her traditional beef Stroganoff (any of her best Stroganoff recipes, actually), along with a classic garden salad, as shoestring fries were the original side to that centuries-old dish served in the grand palaces of St Petersburg.
While you could serve these skinny fries simply with a quality salt or chilli salt, seeing you’ve gone to the trouble of making them, why not make some homemade Sriracha or sweet chilli sauce to go with them?
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Best Shoestring Fries Recipe for the Perfect Side for Burgers and Beef Stroganoff
Lara has been asking me to share my best shoestring fries recipe ever since she published her beef Stroganoff recipe, and she asks me every time she publishes a new Strog recipe. We recently photographed her pork Stroganoff recipe, and was adamant that it be shot with shoestring fries, the original Stroganoff side.
Lucky for my wife (hopefully she’s not reading this!), I also had a couple of recipes on my cooking and shooting schedule which required shoestring fries, so here you go. These matchstick fries are just as fantastic with home-cooked fast food as they are with more classical dishes such as Stroganoff, as you’ll see when Lara shares that recipe this weekend.
They also make perfect loaded fries – spread them out on an oven tray and sprinkle them with finely diced jalapeños or gherkins and grated cheddar cheese, slide them under your oven-grill or broiler, and when the cheese has melted, douse them in chilli sauce and dollops of sour cream.
Here are some tips to making my best shoestring fries recipe.
Tips for Making our Best Shoestring Fries Recipe
My top tip for making our best shoestring fries recipe begins with the potatoes naturally. The type of potato you use for our hand cut potato chips recipe is very important.
Living in Cambodia, we don’t get much variety in potatoes types. We just have either waxy (best for salads) or starchy (perfect for mash or fries).
As for hand cut potato chips, you’re looking for the starchy potatoes. In the USA that would generally be a Russet Burbank or Idaho potato. In the UK, look for an Arran victory or Maris Piper.
In Australia, there’s an enviable array of potato types, however seafood specialist, Josh Niland recommends Sebago potatoes. I used to use Desiree for fries. Other countries will have similar types, such as Royal Blue, Pontiac, Coliban, Bintje, and King Edward, just for starters.
Any type of vegetable oil will serve you well for this shoestring fries recipe. Groundnut oil, which is essentially peanut oil, has a higher smoke point of around 232°C (450°F), making it good for just about any deep-frying recipe. With this recipe you probably won’t be going much above 200°C (390°F).
I’m not a fan of the ‘drop a piece of bread and watch for bubbles’ method of checking oil temperature, because this does not help you keep track of the temperature through the cooking process.
To make this shoestring fries recipe accurately, you need what’s commonly known as a candy thermometer. This is a thermometer that attaches to the side of the pan and actually sits in the pan. Buy one that at least goes to 200°C. They usually have a ‘deep-frying’ indicator at around the 190°C mark.
Deep-fryers are great as well and more convenient if you do a lot of deep frying. Just watch that the temperature does not drop too much once you’ve placed your chips in the basket. Note to not overcrowd the basket, making this worse.
It’s actually better to set the deep-fryer to around 10°C higher and reduce the heat as the chips start to cook. The more expensive professional deep fryers do not suffer from this problem like domestic models.
Also, I keep a separate jar of used oil for fries from the one that I use for battered fish. The oil from the battered fish will inevitably have little beads of batter in it and will go much darker than the ‘cleaner’ oil of the fries.
My general rule is that the oil used for fries can last up to eight times, while oil for the battered fish or fried chicken only gets 3-4 uses before being recycled. But do note that if you go past the smoke point of the oil it will need to be discarded.
While you can use a mandoline slicer or a food processor to make the fries, I prefer to cut mine by hand because I like the variation I get in size and shape – just like hand cut fries. If you do use a mandoline, note that there is a reason there is generally a glove in the mandoline kit. Use it!
Best Shoestring Fries Recipe for the Perfect Side for Burgers and Beef Stroganoff
- 800 g potatoes peeled and cut into 3mm x 3mm matchsticks and submerged in cold water
- 1 litre neutral oil - peanut, vegetable or rice bran, for frying
- 1 tbsp fine salt - more or less to taste
- Peel the potatoes and slice into 3mm slices lengthways. Lay the slices down and cut into 3mm matchsticks. Immediately submerge into a bowl of cold water.
- Mix the potatoes around in the bowl and drain the water a couple of times until the water is no longer cloudy. This removes some of the excess starch.
- Spread the potato matchsticks out on kitchen towels on a sheet pan and place in the fridge for at least an hour. This helps remove some of the moisture from the matchstick potatoes.
- When ready for the first fry, remove the matchstick potatoes from the fridge. Have more kitchen towels on a sheet pan ready for the first-fried fries.
- In a deep pan no more than half filled with oil (or a deep fryer) being the temperature up to 160°C (320°F). Fry the matchstick potatoes in batches until they are opaque and just starting to firm up again and have a very light crust.
- Once these have all had their first fry and are laid out on the sheet pan, they can go back in the fridge for at least an hour. At this stage they can be kept in the fridge for a couple days days – handy if you want toffy them last minute for a burger night.
- For the final fry, the oil should be at 180°C (355°F). Have more kitchen towels on a sheet pan ready for the second-fried fries. Carefully place the matchstick fries into the oil in small batches. Keep moving the fries around with a slotted spoon. The fries will cook a little unevenly if you've cut them by hand – but this is part of their charm. Remove with a slotted spoon when the lighter ones are golden brown and spread out on the sheet pan.
- Keep working in batches until they're all fried. You should serve these immediately, but you can keep them warm in a warm oven at around 100°C (210°F) for 5 minutes before serving.
- Before serving, place the fries in a large bowl and sprinkle over the salt. Don't toss the fries like you would with normal ones as the matchstick fries will break.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make my best shoestring fries recipe as we love to hear how our recipes turn out for you.