It’s probably not what you’d expect from potato salad—and that’s a good thing.
We’re always looking for new ways to eat potatoes, and the biggest hit of last summer (as far as side dishes go) was definitely our favorite Japanese potato salad. We’re still gobbling it up this year, but Beijing-style potato salad may be the next spud-based superstar.
First off, it’s not anything like the potato salad you normally find at a picnic or BBQ. Not only is there no mayo involved, there’s no boiling or cubing potatoes either. Instead, the spuds are shredded and quickly par-fried in a hot wok (in chile and garlic-infused oil) until only partially cooked, so they stay a little crunchy. They’re usually tossed with vinegar to finish. Some recipes also incorporate ingredients like sesame oil, rice wine, Sichuan peppercorn, and horseradish powder. The taste is sour, fresh, and spicy, and the texture is al dente, not ultra creamy.
It’s also usually served cold or at room temperature, so like almost any other potato salad, it does work as a make-ahead dish. And while it might not seem like a natural fit next to your burger (try it anyway!), it would definitely work with more plainly served meats like steak and ribs, whether they incorporate other Asian flavors or not. Serve these shredded potatoes as part of a DIY Korean BBQ (as you would banchan) or next to grilled tri-tip, or try them hot out of the wok with a roasted chicken on any Sunday night.
For a tutorial on how to slice your spuds, check out the Omnivore’s Cookbook’s Chinese Style Potato Salad recipe—which does not include any vinegar and does add a step of parboiling the potatoes before tossing them in the infused hot oil, proving there are always many paths to success:
If your knife skills aren’t quite up to par, a food processor with a julienne disc is a great tool here—ditto a stand mixer with a julienne attachment. Or try a spiralizer or a handheld julienne peeler.
However you cut your spuds, if you’re not parboiling them first, be sure to soak them for 10 minutes in cold water. That removes some of the starch and makes the potato pieces less likely to clump together, but you also want to drain and pat them dry before you cook them. The actual stir-fry will only take a hot minute, and then you toss the shreds in the dressing (or just some vinegar) and let it come to room temperature (unless you want to eat it hot). That’s it!
It’s an incredibly easy dish, and yet another fantastic way to make the humble yet versatile potato shine.
For some other versions of the dish that do use vinegar, try China Sichuan’s Spicy and Sour Potato recipe and Pickled Plum’s Chinese Shredded Potatoes recipe (which adds a bit of soy sauce).
And if you need even more international potato dishes in your life—who doesn’t?—get acquainted with Greek skordalia, the potato-garlic dip of your dreams.