Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MIL's Classic Potato Salad


With all the fancy recipes for potato salads, I never considered posting this recipe because I thought it too old-fashioned. But each time I eat it, which is during CNY when MIL's friends Aunties Lu & Chin always serve the dish, I am reminded that outstanding recipes will always stand the test of time.

My MIL and her two best friends have been making the same potato salad for as long as I know them and I was surprised to learn that one of the ingredients is sweet gherkins, something not easily available here and certainly not what I expected Chinese ladies of an older generation would include in a recipe. They cannot remember where the recipe is from and I can only guess, since these ladies mix in a social circle of people from the Zhejiang area (mid eastern coastal part of China that covers cities such as Ningpo, Hangzhou, Shanghai & more) ,that the recipe must've been handed down from some expat in the early days of pre-communist China when westerners abound in Zhejiang. For the salad in these photos, I used dill pickles because I couldn't find sweet gherkins. MIL and her friends omit the gherkins now since it's too bothersome to find but I highly recommend that you include them if you can. In place of gherkins, Aunty Lu adds chopped canned pineapple and that substitutes beautifully the the tang and the sweetness of sweet gherkins. Peas are also one of the ingredients but I omit them because my son Wey hates peas.

The mayo is very important. Hellman's mayo was rated by Cook's Illustrated as the best mayo in the US so I brought 2 large bottles back on my previous trip to Singapore. I was disappointed because the mayo seemed to be too thin (it even looked translucent) and lacked creaminess. Wey is a die-hard Japanese Kewpie mayo lover. I love Miracle Whip and thought everybody does too so when my dear friend CY in the US wouldn't touch it, I doubted my judgement of a good mayo and have been searching for a better one ever since. I still haven't found it so Miracle Whip is still my favorite. Can I hear from readers what their favorite mayo is? We don't get many choices here and I'm crazy enough to carry them in my lugguage.

It hasn't rained a drop since the last rain in December and my raintrees have gone bald. The smell of smoke and rustle of dry leaves are everywhere. This is the first drought in years. I find this potato salad very appropriate for this weather. Make it early and leave it to chill in the fridge. Serve with a meat or seafood and a leaf salad and it's a lovely summer meal.


MIL's Classic Potato Salad
1 kg (preferably new) potatoes
4-5 eggs, hard boiled n cut into cubes
2 large apples, in cubes
1 large carrot or a stalk of celery or both, diced or in small cubes or peas
4 sweet gherkins (or canned pineapple or golden raisins), chopped finely
salt & pepper

note: cut the main ingredients about the same size, about 1.5 cm.

1. If the potoatoes are new, I like to leave the skin on. Cut into cubes and boil in salted water until just tender. Drain and let cool.

Do same with carrots if using.

2.Make sure everything is cool. Mix all the ingredients (except the eggs) in a bowl. Taste and adjust with the mayo. Now add the eggs and give the salad a light toss. This is to reduce crumbling of the eggs. Chill for at least 3-4 hours.


Plain Jane said...

Yum...I miss those 'old fashion' potato salad....

Lianne said...

the potato salad sounds a bit germanised. they eat them with sweet, vinegered gurkins too in light mayo akin to yoghurt sauce (cross between mayo and yoghurt). apart from japanese mayo, i muss say that i am addicted to the ones in netherland. its something starting with Y (sorry, cannot remember its name!), found sometimes in the cold diary product isle and heyyy ..since you´re hopping over in 1 1/2 months time, do try! they serve the various sorts (some with curry powder, some with paprika powder etc) in their fried fish stalls.

Bunnies said...

I find that Tesco mayo are the best. However, you have to be very careful to spot and buy those made in Belgium (meaning, imported from Tesco UK). Dont buy those made in Malaysia. They are terrible!

Yes, there is no good mayo around.. They are either sweet or very very "un-mayo"!

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

I like old fashion potato salad too..

kat said...

I've always liked Hellman's mayo. And I love Fletcher's Sweet Spiced Gherkins (I eat it off the jar!!:D ) I'll try throwing them into potato salad. Thanks for the recipe. :)

La Table De Nana said...

I like the idea of the apple!

hongyi said...

PioneerWoman says that Miracle Whip is from the devil.

Jade said...

Oh I'm so pleased to see this!!! This is exactly how my mum makes her potato salad, gherkins and all:) minus the carrots..since I don't eat them :P

terri@adailyobsession said...

plainjane: make some soon

lianne: they could very well be german. thnx, i'll look out for the mayo with a y. it doesn't matter if you can't give me the full name bc i won't be able to rember dutch words anyway!

bunnies:tnx, will try it. maybe i shd mix MW with Kewpie...

sonia: high five:))

kat: don't you find hellman's too thin? ok, will look out for fletcher's sweet gherkins altho if i can't find gherkins it'll be hard to be picky about brands :))

la table:oh the apple gives the crunch and is refreshing. yes, must add aplle

yi: is tt good or bad, like devilish sinful irresistable or hopeless?

jade: yes, the carrots seem out of place. can leave them out.

NEE said...

yeah it is german potato salad they called this. love it. yum.

Daisy in Arkansas said...

want to tell you I just sent you an email- to both address- gmail and yahoo- dunno which one you still use.

Peng said...

hi there, have you ever tried making your own mayo?

Anonymous said...

Hellman's *IS* the best bottled American style mayo on the market. However, I'll bet the Hellman's you picked up in Singapore is not the same as what we have in the US. The recipe sounds like it was adjusted for the tastes of the local market. Hellman's is very thick and creamy and it is also completely opaque. It's like the Nissan cup of noodles - the ones from Asia are much tastier than the ones in the US!

Anonymous said...

Nissin cup of noodles, not Nissan! Whoops!

ChopSuey said...

hi terri - the fad in the us is now to make your own mayo and not use the mayo from a jar. so i'm adding a link to a recipe that you can try. bon appetit!


Laura said...

Hello!I've just discovered your blog and I like it!
I've never eaten Potato Salad before, I think I should try it, it seems wonderful!
Laura from Italy

terri@adailyobsession said...

nee: ok i believe u n lianne

peng: never, bc i know i wouldn't feel comfortable eating raw egg yolks. i know, i know, they use raw eggs too in the bottled stuff. But.

anon: u r confusing me. u said "the ones frm asia taste better" but also tt what i picked up in singapore is not the same as those in the us?

chopsuey: but the thought of eating raw egg yolks..i dip my sukiyaki in raw egg but that's diff bc the stuff in dip in are boiling hot..

laura: it's a good change from oil n vinegar dressing, esp for kids.hope u like it.n ur blog is very nice too:))

Big Boys Oven said...

this look rweally appealing to me, I will defintely eat all on it's own! :)

Big Boys Oven said...

this look rweally appealing to me, I will defintely eat all on it's own! :)

Gastro888 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Sorry for the confusion! I was giving an example of how corporations adjust the flavor profile of foods according to the local palate.

What I am trying to illustrate is that the Hellmann's mayo made is the USA most likely has a different flavor profile than the one you picked up in Singapore. I use Hellmann's here and it *IS* the best in the US market. Hellmann's mayo is very thick, creamy, tangy and is opaque.

For example, the Nissin cup of noodles made in Asia is more flavorful than the Nissin cup of noodles in America. The company stated they adjusted the flavor profile of the cup of Noodle soup for the American market. Based on their research, they decided to make the flavor more mild and with corn and carrots as the only "toppings". The ones from the Asian market have a variety of toppings and more pronounced flavors. I know this because I have tried both and am sad that I cannot get the Asian Nissin cup of noodles in the US - unless I pay $3 US a cup!!!

(Granted, the flavor comes from MSG, but you know what I mean!)

I enjoy your blog!

Anonymous said...

To make up for the confusion I caused, I wanted to send you this link for homemade mayo. Seems pretty easy!


terri@adailyobsession said...

anon: ah, i see what u mean. i noticed tt too. nissin cup noodles made in the us tastes terrible, i agree! tq for the mayo link. one day, when i get really fresh eggs, i might try making my own mayo:))

tealady: tt's a great tip, two kinds of pickles. will do, tq!

Kikukat said...

My favorite mayo is Best Foods. The label says that East of the Rocky Mountains it is known as Hellman's. But after taking a trip to the East (USA) and trying Hellman's, I must say they taste different. I think most people in Hawaii buy Best Foods. A distant second choice would be Kraft. Miracle Whip is not popular here.

terri@adailyobsession said...

kikukat: oh thank u for telling me bc i think i've seen best foods mayo at the supermarket:)

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