Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Call This "Potato Redux....Redux"

The sentiment that the potato is the national vegetable of the Netherlands never feels more true than at the start of autumn, as the summer produce fades and the winter staples of stamppot and erwtensoep regain their places prominence in the Dutch diet. Your average Dutch diet, that is. Karel, besides sucking at being Dutch, has fallen head over heels for a potato salad that I concocted. This salad is a spin-off of a potato-green-asparagus salad that he'd made in the spring, back before I discovered steamed asparagus and all its orgasmic glory. Like everything else I enjoy cooking, it has only three essential ingredients (potatoes, smoked salmon, a mild onion), only one of which requires cooking. I wish I could say that some of it came from my mother as well, but truth be told her potato salad never quite tasted as good as this, and plus it was string-theory-complicated.

I've included a recipe for the mayonnaise that I make specifically for this dish. You could always use the stuff in a jar and just whisk some chopped dill into it; I always make it because we don't use mayonnaise that often, and stuff in a jar always goes south between potato salads. Obviously, know the risks of raw eggs before making this. Salmonella can be delicious, but it can also be deadly. That being said, if you're not pregnant, very young, very old, immunocompromised, or allergic to eggs, you'll probably survive.

Potato Salad

~1/2 kg vastkokend potatoes, cubed
1 shallot or 1/2 white onion (zoete uien)
100-200 g smoked salmon
1 Yowling Noodle
1 celery rib (optional)
Hardboiled egg (optional)

~1 Cup mayonnaise, with ~2 Tbsp dill mixed into it
string beans or broccoli or asparagus, if making an accompaniment

Peel and cut the potates into cubes no bigger than 1 inch (that's 2.5 cm) across. Dutch potatoes are annoying in that they are sometimes no bigger than a large pea, so when you buy them check the package and make sure it has a decent collection of large-ish ones (size of a baby's boot) to save yourself some effort. I use a cheese-slicer-thing to peel the potatoes, drawing the blade towards my thumb. The advantage of this is that the peels will not fly all over the place and you can save a ton of clean-up time by dumping the peels directly into a bowl. The disadvantage is that you lose a relatively large amount of edible potato, but still less than you would if you used an aardappelmes.

Cook the potatoes. You can either put them in boiling water for about 10 minutes, or microwave them for 7. The advantage of boiling is that you can steam the vegetable (string beans, broccoli, or asparagus) at the same time (8, 5, and 10 minutes, respectively). Regardless of how you opt to cook your taters, you must use vastkokend potatoes--kruimig potatoes will disintegrate when you try to toss them later. While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop the shallot or white onion. Cut the smoked salmon into strips. Do not stab the cat. Do not add his little furry butt to the salad. Do cuddle him and give him a smidge of salmon--outside the kitchen--and then shut the door. Ignore.

Cut the celery into small cubes, and slice the egg, if using. When the potatoes have finished cooking, drain them and let them sit on the counter for about 15 minutes or so, to cool off a bit. Toss everything together and let them chillax in the fridge for an hour or two.

Mix about 1 cup of mayonnaise into the salad, toss well. Rewarm the accompanying vegetable. Serve. Fend off one hungry Noodle. Threaten to send him back to the dierenasiel. Toss him a sliver of salmon anyway.


1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt (maybe less, depending on your taste)
Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp mustard of choice
1-2 Tbsp honey
~1 Cup oil (depends on the size of your egg)
handful of chopped fresh dill

Good strong arm and wire whisk
hand mixer, set to "low"
Heavy bowl
plastic wrap

Whisk everything except the oil and dill together in the bowl. Still whisking, add the oil to the slurry drop by drop. When about 1/2 C is left, you can start adding it spoonful by spoonful. You may need some more oil to get the consistency right. When it's right, add the dill and mix well. Put it in the fridge; cover it with a skin of plastic wrap. I alternate between using the whisk and the hand mixer--when my arm gets tired, that's when I switch.

My choice of oil is either sunflower, canola, or what's called sla olie, for salads. Olive oil, besides being pricey, is very dense, and furthermore it gives the mayo a weird flavor. I suppose you could give it a try if you wanted.

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