Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Humbling Potato

If there is one vegetable that can evoke the biggest sense of uselessness in me, it is the potato. I just don’t know what to do with the damned thing beyond the standard boiling or mashing. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to come up with a dish to submit for Weekend Wokking that would showcase the potato in all its glory. I thought maybe I could do them up Asian-style, but there really weren’t many recipes that inspired me. The one Thai dish that I would have loved to do was massaman curry, but I’ve already done that (and you should too, if you've never had it). There was a Korean dish with potatoes and pork loin that briefly piqued my interest. And of course Indian spiced potatoes would have fit the bill. Yet I couldn’t motivate myself for either of these.

The thing about potatoes is that they're humble, almost too humble. They're never the star of the show, but can certainly save a meal. Think about it, if the main attraction sucks, like an over cooked steak or a dry pork chop, at least the potatoes will be satisfying. So with that in mind, I decided on an easy potato salad with smoked trout and dill. The smoked trout gave it a complex flavor and the dill added that extra bit of freshness. It’s the type of potato salad that brings a bit of sophistication to the humble potato.

Note: For this dish, I used just your average, run of the mill potatoes. They work just fine, but for a little more interest, try using unpeeled fingerlings or small new potatoes. Red potatoes would be very pretty as well.

Fresh smoked trout is difficult to find. So here’s a secret: use the canned stuff. I know some people would balk at this, but it worked beautifully. I got mine at Trader Joe’s, but any respectable brand will do. Just make sure it’s drained well before using. Dab it with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, if necessary, to remove the excess oil and liquid.

Potato Salad with Smoked Trout and Dill
  • Approx 1. 5 to 2 pounds potatoes, peeled, boiled and cooled
  • 3 oz smoked trout (hot smoked salmon works beautifully as well)
  • 1 to 2 tbs finely chopped sweet (red or white) onion
  • 2 to 3 tbs chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tbs mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs sour cream (crème fraiche or crema will also do the trick)
  • lemon or lime juice, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice. Add salt to taste and set the dressing aside until needed.

Depending on how you like your potato salad, dice or coarsely mash the potatoes. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with the onion and dill. Add about 2/3 of the dressing and some salt. Gently mix the salad until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more dressing, salt or lemon juice and pepper. Serve chilled.

I’m still going to submit this dish to Weekend Wokking, which was created by Wandering Chopsticks. Despite the name of the event, the submissions don’t need to be Asian or cooked in a wok. They just have to showcase the (seasonal) theme ingredient, which happened to be the potato this month. If you want to participate in the next round, visit White on Rice Couple to see the round-up and what they’ll choose as the theme ingredient. Once they announce the ingredient, you can send your delicious submissions to me for the August round-up. To see who else is hosting in the future, click here.

Added: Check out the round-up here.


Manggy said...

Damn, I missed it again :/ I think I was overwhelmed. I had a few ideas for French-style potato dishes but I think I developed a phobia after I turned a few potatoes dark blue by putting iodized salt on them :O

You can never go wrong with potato salad, but I've yet to try it with smoked fish (I have a bit of an allergy issue). The sourness+dill is a real winner :)

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Haha! I checked your blog earlier today to see if you had a potato recipe up yet. And sure enough, I check later and Manggy beats me to being the first commenter again. What's up with that? ;P

I love your use of smoked trout and dill. Totally transforms the humble potato salad. I once had fried rice with diced fried potatoes that was really yummy and was debating whether to make that for this round up. But yeah, not too many Asian recipes that use potatoes! But the recipes other bloggers have submitted will give you lots of ideas now. :)

BTW, my verification word? "WUTUP." Haha.

Just Cook It said...

mmm. massaman is wonderful - the first one I ever tasted was on Koh Phi Phi and served to make it taste even better. Is there a recipe you can recommend?

Potato salad: very summery, very tasty. Looks lovely.

Dee said...

manggy, I didn't knwo they turn dark blue with iodized salt. Good to know. If you don't want to use smoked fish, try smoked chicken. It would still go with the dill.

WC, I think manggy waits by his computer for my posts :-) Just kidding. Maybe we should have a contest? Who can post a comment before manggy??

I almost didn't post because I felt potato salad may be a little boring, but Hubby really liked it and said I should.

Alex, thank you. I usually don't cook with dill, and feel like I just re-discovered it with this dish. It just made it so refreshing.

I posted about massaman way back when. Here's the link: The paste recipe is also included, if you're inclined to make your own paste, but there's no shame in store-bought either.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

You nailed it--no matter what the rest of a meal has going on, as long as there are potatoes, everyone can rest assured that there's something good to eat.

Your potato salad sounds interesting. I don't think I've ever had fish in mine. I'll have to try that one of these days...

tigerfish said...

A potato cannot be humble in your hands. They shine!

Dee said...

Mike, the smoked fish makes all the difference in the world. Give it a try!

tigerfish, why, I do believe I'm blushing!

Anonymous said...

Makes me drool.A lot.
Going to try it.Thanks for the recipe

Paula said...

Oh my, does this look good! This is a terrific recipe. What a great excuse, too, for me to get a hold of some smoked trout!

QGIRL said...

Dill is the perfect seasoning for potatoes. Actually, I have only used dill on potatoes and also on salmon. Not sure how else to utilize that herb, maybe in pickling, which is something I have always been afraid of. Sorry, I digress.

As alway,s your recipe (and food art!) are intriguing.
Thanks for the reminder on the Wandering Chopsticks challenge.

I bought some small red potatoes today (before I read your post and was reminded of the challenge) and want to try something Vietnamese style. If I don't have time to shop for the ingredients I'll just do my chickpea and potatoes standby. It is pretty easy and comfort food to me.

Madeline said...

This sounds so good. I love smoked trout. I can't wait to try this.

Dee said...

Paula, I just used the smoked trout from Trader Joes and it worked beautifully. I wonder if New Seasons carries something like that. I'll have to check next time I'm in. Interestingly, the best smoked salmon (which is an excellent substitute) is from QFC. It's not vacuum packed and it's not overly salty. I think it's available in their seafood department.

qgirl, you should post that chickpea and potato salad! I'd love another way to do potatoes.

amethistle and madeline, thank you and let me know how you like it!

Jason said...

Wow, and I thought I was the only person in the world that didn't think potatoes were a gift from god. I grew up in Idaho and am know for "potatoes" but think of them as boring also! I do like them with a ton of sour cream and cheese, or with Herbs de Provence, or mashed with sour cream and garlic, but they hardly ever find a spot on my table. This recipe does look super delish though, so I will have to try it out.
p.s. I had a few friends over tonight and made your asparagus and beef stir fry, and got rave reviews, thanks again for that fab recipe!

Anonymous said...

This is the perfect potato salad for our July 4th BBQ! I love your use of seafood, dill and sour cream with the humble potato. It's definitely gonna get a celebrity status at our party. Thanks!

Dee said...

Jason, I agree about the sour cream. It does so much more than mayo alone. And fresh herbs are definately the way to go with potatoes.

WORC, I will be doing them again for July 4th as well! So easy. BTW, your dish looked great too.

ShellyH said...

Wow, I found your blog today via the foodie blog roll and I am so glad I did! I love your recipes!

Dee said...

Hi Shelly, I'm glad you enjoy the recipes, and thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Hi Darlene, Happy 4th of July for yesterday. Glad to hear you weren't injured by the fireworks. Your salad looks fantastic. I recently found some smoked trout here in Vancouver. It was frozen but thawed in a matter of minutes and was delicious.

Norm Schoen said...

That potato salad looks great! I have been making a grilled potato salad this summer that seems to be a crowd pleaser.

dp said...

Norm, I don't recall reading about it on your blog? I'd love to have the recipe. I need more ideas for potatoes.

eatingclubvancouver_js said...

This potato salad looks like a winner. You've certainly succeeded in glamming up the humble potato! It's citified potatoes now. I love the combination of potato, dill, and smoked trout.