Saturday, April 26, 2014

Kirsten's Japanese Style Potato Salad

If you are looking for a new way to enjoy potato salad, try this:


6 potatoes.  Russets are fine. White potatoes are starchier but better as they hold their shape. Yukon gold are fantastic. Just peel 'em and quarter them.
3-4 red radishes, chopped small
1 large carrot, scraped.
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
2 Tbsp chives or scallion, chopped
1 boiled egg
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1 small cucumber. If you can find Persian cucumbers get that because they are smaller and closest match to Japanese kyuuri. However, if you can only find regular cucumber, scrape it and slice it thinly.
1-2 slices smoked ham (optional)
1/3 cup Kewpie Mayo (please do yourself a favor and find Japanese mayo! Go to any Asian grocery store and look for Kewpie.)

1 Tbsp rice vinegar (use white vinegar if not rice)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt

1. Set the peeled, quartered potatoes in cold, salted water (just enough to cover them) in a pot on the stove. Heat them to a boil and cook 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick can be inserted easily into them. You want them tender, not mushy.

2. Drain the potatoes pieces and set aside.

3. Cook the peeled carrot in water for 1-2 minutes until tender. It should still be firm and a bit crisp though. When finished, chop the parboiled carrot into small cubes.

4. In a bowl, combine the chopped onion, carrot, and cucumber and pour the sugar, salt and vinegar on top of them. Mix well with your hand to make sure everything is coated.

5. Chop the cooked potatoes into bite-sized cubes. Most Japanese potato salad is mashed smoothly but if you prefer to have solid cubes of potato as in a chopped salad, be my guest.

6. Mash the egg and combine with the mayo. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. Now combine the potatoes with the egg-mayo mash and the corn and vinegar-ed vegetables. Chop the ham into thin strips or squares and add if you want. Mix well until combined. The texture is up to you. Most Japanese potato salads resemble smooth mashed potato with bright chunks of vegetables inside. But if you want the texture to be lumpy instead of smooth, use a gentler hand when you mix.

8. Use chopped radish and scallion as garnish. You can also use fresh parsley.

9. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. This is great food to take on a picnic or to have with roast chicken. Use an ice cream scoop to serve it on a fresh leaf of lettuce.

10. Ingredients are really to your taste. Want to omit the egg and ham? Fine. Prefer to add a teaspoon of salad mustard? Rock on.  Require Adobo on it the same way you require it on everything else? Please do! Wanna get funky and add strips of seaweed or mentaiko? It's up to you how you want it to taste. Everyone has a different method for making potato salad but I enjoy this smooth, Japanese version so much. Plus, I love making my woman happy!

Note: I made this recipe today in the more western "chopped" style. The flavour is very lively, fresh, and exiting - just right for spring. It was definitely improved by allowing it to sit in the fridge for a few hours before eating to allow the flavours to blend and mature. I suspect an overnight rest might be optimal as it is with our usual potato salad recipe.
Also note: If you don't already have rice vinegar as part of your standard kitchen supplies - get some! It's terrific stuff and magic at adding a slightly tart, lively note to many dishes.

With thanks to Kirsten Phillips for allowing me to steal her recipe.