I am doing a barbecued bulgogi tri-tip for our Sunday meal. To go with the Korean main dish, I decided to make a potato salad with napa cabbage kimchi. Daughter Miriam is still off onions, so I am leaving out the green onions—you are of course free to add them back.
Korean kimchi is a kind of spiced and fermented vegetable. It can be made with almost any vegetable, although napa cabbage is the most familiar to Americans. It was originally created to preserve vegetables during the long winter months of this far northern country.
Note: In a good kimchi—even in a store bought one—the microorganisms of the fermentation process are still active. Hold your jar over a sink the first time you open it, as its liquid may spurt under the pressure of built up gasses—using an apron would not be amiss in this situation.
Karl’s Kimchi Potato Salad
¼-⅓ cup Japanese mayonnaise
1 Tbs. rice vinegar, unseasoned
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 lb. small Dutch yellow potatoes, large dice
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup mild kimchi, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
(optional ) 2 green onions, sliced finely
¼ tsp. black sesame seeds
1. Put the dressing ingredients into a small bowl and mix them together.
Tip: Let the dressing meld as you prepare the rest of the salad.
Note: Do not add as much mayonnaise as you think you may need. If your salad still seems a bit dry after you have added the dressing you may always add more mayonnaise in order reach your desired consistency.
2. Place the potatoes in a pot and add water to cover by one inch.
Tip: If you have the time, use this whole potato method of boiling your potatoes. If you are in a hurry, you may cut them up and simmer until tender.
Note: While cutting up your potatoes will reduce the cooking time, it comes with certain problems. A cut potato causes the exposed surfaces to absorb water and the starches swell and burst open. This can add a somewhat slimy texture to your salad. Leaving the skins on the potatoes protects the starches inside.
3. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer.
Tip: Simmer medium potatoes for 15 minutes and 20 minutes for large potatoes.
Note: You may save time and energy if you add the eggs to the potato pot and cook them at the same time. Just remember to remove them after 15 minutes.
4. Leave the lid on the pot and remove it from the heat.
5. Let the pot rest for 20-30 minutes, undisturbed.
Tip: The potatoes are done when a knife easily pierces the thickest potato chunk. This is an energy saving trick. The residual heat of the water will finish cooking the potatoes.
6. Remove the eggs and put them in a bowl of cold water.
Tip: Once the heat is taken out of the eggs place them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This chilling causes the egg whites to shrink slightly and pull away from the shell’s membrane—making them much easier to peel.
Note: While the potatoes are cooking prepare the rest of your vegetables.
7. Coarsely chop the kimchi and put it in a mixing bowl
8. Dice the celery and bell pepper into small (⅜ inch) pieces and add them to the kimchi.
Note: If you are using onions, slice and add them to the bowl now.
9. Drain the potatoes well and cool them in cold water.
Tip: While you may peel the potatoes at this point, it is not really necessary.
10. Dice the potatoes into ¾ inch chunks.
11. Add the potatoes to the vegetables and use a large whisk to partly mash the potatoes.
Tip: You want about a 50/50 ratio of mash to medium/small potato chunks.
12. Peel and chop the eggs.
13. Add the eggs to the potatoes and pour the dressing over the salad.
14. Fold the dressing, potatoes, eggs and vegetables until well blended.
Tip: You may be fairly rough with this mixing, because you want a fairly creamy consistency.
Note: However, do not overwork the potatoes, as they may turn “gluey.”
15. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and let it meld, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
16. Garnish the potato salad with black sesame seeds.
Tip: If you are using onions you may garnish with some finely sliced green onion tops, or my younger daughter’s favorite, a serious sprinkle of shichimi tōgarashi.