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.