Ah, summer is the time we risk food poisoning by eating macaroni salads, potato salads, etc, at picnics and barbeques. By these salads, I mean an abundance of mayonnaise and mysteriously colored foods. Am I right?
Many people I know have had their share of having terrible potato salad. So have I. The overly sweet, slimy, way-too-much mayonnaise filled kind where I really want to eat it because I love potato salad. But then, you realize it’s terrible. So terrible. But before you give up on it, you convince yourself that you must have taken too big of a bite and that’s why it tastes so terrible. Maybe pecking at it will taste better. Maybe scraping off the excess mayonnaise will help…no, who am I kidding. If something tastes good, you know it immediately.
But I love potato salad. The good kind. And so far, Korean potato salads never seem to fail to please me. Whenever I go to a Korean restaurant, all I think about is whether or not this side dish will come out. When it does, I cry a little.
Many recipes I see online call for a variety of ingredients. From bacon to celery to dill to mustard, it’s endless. But I don’t really see the point of all of it. This version has few ingredients but is so addicting, you won’t be the only one who wants to eat the entire bowl in one sitting.
First: get your diced red potatoes in boiling water and cook until a fork can easily go through it. I highly recommend red potatoes. I have never been fond of baking potatoes, russet potatoes, you name it. Many of them tend to be too dense or the opposite, and it feels like I’m eating grainy mush.
Second: get your eggs boiled as well. I always place the eggs in with the water first and boil for exactly 13 minutes on high. Perfect every time.
Third: finely dice your sweet onion. Red onion is a good option as well.
Fourth: slice your cucumber into thin, thin slices and then cut in half. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with coarse salt. I know, this is weird, right? Wrong. Korean recipes do this quite often. Sprinkling the cucumber with salt draws out liquid, making the slices really crunchy. This adds a nice fresh taste to your salad, rather than making it mayonnaise filled and goopy.
Don’t add too much salt. I would say 1/2 tablespoon per 1/2 cup of sliced cucumber. I accidentally forgot this one time and added salt at the end too, out of habit. I then realized how salty the salad turned out but out of stubbornness, I opted to pick out the salty pieces of cucumber, in silence. One by one. Bit by bit. It was worth it. My blood, sweat, and tears of standing there watching the water boil and picking out cucumbers wasn’t going to go to waste.
Let these sit for at least 10 minutes. When time is up, with your hand, squeeze the water out of the cucumber slices. They will come apart a little, so don’t panic. See the photo for reference below.
Fifth: once your potatoes are done cooking and have cooled, place them in a bowl. Take your boiled eggs, slice them and add to the bowl.
Sixth: add the remaining ingredients plus ground pepper. I used 3 red potatoes and added 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 diced onion, a dash of vinegar, and 2 eggs.
You may be wondering, why aren’t you telling me to add salt? You don’t have to. There’s enough salt from the mayonnaise and especially the cucumbers. Remember, you covered them in salt before hand.
Seventh: start mixing and mashing your potatoes. Don’t be gentle! I actually used a potato masher for mine, but lightly. This is not the type of potato salad where the potatoes remain whole. Add more or less sugar, to your tasting.
Refrigerate and enjoy!
Extra: in many Korean recipes, sliced ham is added to this salad as well. I, for one, don’t like ham. You can also add other vegetables like carrots as well.