A twist on potato salad

August 5, 2016

Sweet potato salad (at 3 o'clock) with tuna poke, rice, and cucumbers.

Sweet potato salad (at 3 o’clock) with tuna poke, rice, and cucumbers.

Y’all know I love me some potato salad. My version of traditional potato salad (heavy on the mustard in the dressing; add a little ketchup, too, and lots of paprika) is my go-to comfort food. I make a pretty awesome German potato salad, and I’ve done a few versions with roasted potatoes in a viniagrette that aren’t any slouches, either.

But I’d never made a sweet potato salad. Until last night.

Over on the eGullet.org forum (you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em really ought to check that out; it’s a lot of fun to follow, and a great place for information and to ask questions), there’s a new thread called “create my meal.” A member provides a list of 10 or so ingredients he/she has on hand. Standard pantry ingredients (oils, spices, flours, grains) are assumed. Other members suggest a menu.

It came my turn and I proffered a freezer full of beef, along with chickens and pork chops and a single tuna steak; assorted garden veggies including tomatoes, squash and eggplant; fruit including a pineapple and peaches; and several kinds of cheese. I got a number of suggestions, but settled on a Hawaiian menu that included tuna poke, sweet potato salad, and Hawaiian rib-eye.

I wound up cooking two-thirds of it last night. We decided we weren’t hungry enough for both tuna poke AND a steak, so I decided to wait on the steak until this weekend. (A report on that later; it marinates in pineapple juice and soy sauce with assorted seasonings for a day before grilling, and my mouth has watered since I read the recipe.) I would make the tuna poke, the sweet potato salad, cut up some cucumbers for an Asian dressing, and cook some rice.

I love tuna poke. Quite simply, it’s raw ahi tuna, cut up in small cubes, marinated in a dressing of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and a bit of mirin. It’s tossed, at the last minute, with pineapple chunks and dusted with sesame seeds. I forgot the sesame seeds. No matter; it was fine. And a single tuna steak feeds two of us.

The cucumbers got a dressing similar to the poke, with the addition of some rice vinegar.

The sweet potatoes got peeled, cut in chunks and boiled. There were about 2 1/2 cups’ worth. I added a bit more than a cup of pineapple chunks. Chopped up three strips of cooked bacon, and two green onions (green and white part both). Made a dressing of mayonnaise, ginger, soy sauce, a squirt of sriracha to liven things up, and stirred that up. Pretty salty, so I thought it needed sweetening; recipe called for using agave syrup for same, but I didn’t have any, so I added a teaspoon or so of white corn syrup, which I keep in the cabinet for the occasions on which I want to make a Karo pecan pie or butter toffee.

First lesson I learned: It would be well to wait until your potatoes cooled more than mine had. Warm boiled chunks of sweet potato want to disintegrate when you stir, no matter how gently. A little of that is fine, but I think it could be reduced by waiting until the chunks cooled to room temp.

I also think I’d leave out the bacon next time. Now, I love bacon as well as the next guy, but it just hit a false note in this setting.

I chilled it in the freezer while the rice finished cooking, but it still wasn’t completely chilled when we ate. I will be interested to see how it tastes today, after the flavors have had time to meld overnight.

Anyway, it’s a new take on potato salad, and sweet potatoes are good for you, plus fresh fruit from the pineapple.  All in all, it’s a pretty doggoned good side dish, and one people don’t tend to expect, which is always a good thing. I’d recommend you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em giving it a try; you may like it or you may not, but it’ll broaden your horizons. And our horizons can always use broadening, yes?



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