Not a Japanese Potato Salad

I thought I had to point this out. Possibly because the only potato salad one is likely to order in any restaurant here in KL is a Potato Salada, which really is more like mashed potatoes with Japanese Kewpie mayo thrown in for good measure. Don’t get me wrong; Japanese potato salad is a very good thing in its own right, but it’s just that; its own thing. If you’ve grown up in a pretty Germanic family (sorry, mother), “ein guter Kartoffelsalat” was what you got on a summer Sunday, either with thickly sliced cooked ham, or Wienerwürstchen.

This recipe isn’t exactly the traditional one I grew up with. It’s my very own, personal and improved version for a new millennium and I think it’s pretty good. Creamy potatoes that don’t fall apart, a mayonnaise with a good amount of zing to it and of course gherkins, boiled chopped egg and crunchy shallots. Capers are allowed, but sliced cocktail sausages are completely verboten! You’re allowed to eat them on the side, but they can’t be added (explain that to anyone!). If you’re in any way teutonic, you will remember eating these straight out of the jar, still dripping with briny, smoked preservative juices.

This is the kind of shallot I’m talking about

For Chef Christian’s Teutonic Potato Salad you will need:

  • 600g small new potatoes (waxy is the word)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ espresso spoon sea salt
  • about 8 small cocktail gherkins (cornichons)
  • 1 medium shallot
  • about 12 chives (1-2 spring onions will do too)
  • 1 boiled egg

For the mayonnaise:

  • 1 egg yolk, preferably fresh
  • 1 level tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 200ml canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • a pinch of sugar

A word about potatoes. If you live in a potato country, you will easily be able to find out which potatoes to buy. We want waxy ones, not starchy ones (we keep those for our Japanese Salada), so

Put your washed, but unpeeled potatoes into a steamer filled with water and turn on the heat. I like to steam my potatoes from cold, so they heat up slowly as the water starts to boil. I find it gives a more even texture, as the outside doesn’t steam at full blast while the inside is trying to catch up. It should take about 15 minutes from the time you see steam for your potatoes to cook in this way, but do check every now and again. We want perfectly cooked potatoes, not raw ones and not falling apart ones either. It is a German recipe, after all! I recommend you cut one potato in half when you think they are done and eat it. It’s really the only way to know whether you got it right. Now immediately take the steamed potatoes out and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet, making sure they do not touch. Place them somewhere cool that is not the chiller.

It will take about 20 minutes before the potatoes are cool enough to comfortably peel, so that’s enough time to make the dressing and the mayonnaise. If you are wondering what I am talking about; we are going to make a first, simple dressing to coat our potatoes with while they are still warm. This will salt them and add that olive oil depth to the potatoes while still leaving our mayonnaise nice and clean tasting. So just quickly whisk the olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt together, then peel the potatoes, cut them into 4 (6, if they are bigger) and put them into a bowl. Don’t use your serving bowl for this, because tossing the potato salad is a messy business and we want a clean bowl to go to the table, ja? Pour the dressing over the still warm potatoes and gently mix. You may find that some of the dressing pools at the bottom of the bowl, but if you give the potatoes a good stir every ten minutes or so, it will soon all be absorbed.

Now make a mayonnaise with the ingredients listed above. If you have no idea how to do this, you’re probably not the only one. Fortunately my previous post tells you how to, so just follow this link Mayonnaise, or the link at the bottom of this post. It’s really not that difficult, so please don’t just buy mayonnaise in a jar.

Now it’s time to put it all together: Cut the chives into about 1cm pieces and add all but one tablespoon (that’s for decoration) to the potatoes. Now peel and chop your boiled egg and keep it aside. Cut the gherkins into small dice, or just chop them, if you’re not feeling German today and add these to the potatoes as well. Now add about two third of the mayonnaise to the potatoes and gently mix in. See if you like it that way and then add as much mayo as you like to your salad. Transfer the potato salad to a clean serving bowl, spoon the chopped egg around the edges and sprinkle the chives (do chives sprinkle?) over the middle. Serve.

Note: There is a reason I chop the chives, then eggs, then gherkins in that order. That way, I don’t need to clean my chopping board in between! A bit of chives on the egg is fine and a bit of egg and chives on the gherkins is fine too. Doesn’t work the other way around!

You can serve this potato salad with boiled Vienna sausages or go all out and be truly German (or was that Austrian) and serve it with Schnitzel One Man’s Schnitzel… whatever you decide, I can promise you it will be delicious!

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