Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Potato salad, slightly Danish
Potato salad is an Estonian institution, whether you like it or not. I tend to like it, if it's well made.
Until a few years ago you could guarantee that if you were invited to a birthday party, you'd be served kartulisalat. It's pretty close to what's known as Salad Olivier or Russian Salad across the world, though it does taste different. Must the be magic Estonian touch (or the mayonnaise-sour cream dressing) :) I vaguely remember an old joke that any suitable Estonian bride must know a) how to make a good coffee and b) how to make a decent potato salad :D For any larger family gathering, my mum (and all other relatives) would always make a large saucepan-full of potato salad, and we, kids, were often asked to help with the chopping. You see, there's a lot of chopping and mixing involved - a typical Estonian potato salad contains perfectly cubed boiled potatoes (lots of them!), carrots, onions, cucumbers (fresh and/or marinated), as well as apples, green peas, ham/cooked sausages etc - the exact list of ingredients and proportions depend on what's available and personal preferences. I, for example, dislike boiled carrots, apples and peas in my salad, and I never include ham/sausages in the salad if it's served alongside small frankfurters ("viinerid").
However, this summer I discovered a much more minimalist salad that yet manages to deliver the same flavour sensation. The recipe is from a Danish magazine cutting from early 1990s, but adapted heavily over the years. It works well as a quick light meal, or as a side dish to some grilled meat. Recipe below.
Danish potato salad
(Kergelt karrine kurgi-kartulisalat)
Serves 4 as a side dish
600 g potatoes, unpeeled
1 green cucumber
250 g sour cream
250 g mayonnaise
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Boil the potatoes (you can do that on a previous day). Cool a little, then peel. Cut into smaller or larger uniform pieces - it's your choice.
Cut the cucumber into small dice, place onto a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Leave for 15-30 minutes, drain any liquid. (This is not a necessary - or a traditional step - but something I've borrowed from the tzatziki-making process. I love how the cucumbers retain their crunch and the salad doesn't become watery).
Mix all the dressing ingredients, fold in the cubed potatoes and drained cucumbers.