The idea for kimchi potato salad came to me when Steven and I were at the wedding reception of a good friend we’ve known since college. His mother is Korean, so to represent that part of his heritage, there was kimchi to go with the ribs, potato salad, and baked beans. When I tasted the kimchi, I was surprised that it was rather spicy, so I looked for something creamy to counteract it. The potato salad was the closest choice, and when I mixed them together, I realized that potato salad and kimchi is a damn delicious combination.
It was fitting, because I think this old friend is probably the first person who ever mentioned kimchi to me. It came up in conversation for some reason, and as a sheltered white college kid from the suburbs, I had never heard of it. He explained it as a pungent, fermented cabbage and vegetable mix that’s kind of an acquired taste, not being what most non-Korean Americans are used to eating. I think it took me years to encounter it and try it, but when I did, I was surprised that I actually liked it.
I think kimchi is more popular than it was when I first heard of it, though maybe not quite mainstream American cuisine yet? Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not very plugged into mainstream eating habits. It’s getting attention for being a superfood, though–like yogurt, the fermentation results in healthy probiotics. Lots of people actually make their own kimchi (I want to try this recipe), but I just bought a jar this time.
I did make my own vegan mayonnaise, though! Recently I learned about vegan mayonnaise made with aquafaba, have you heard of that? It’s “bean water,” aka the water that comes in a can of beans, or that’s leftover from cooking beans. Usually it refers to chickpea/garbanzo bean water, and vegans are doing some amazing stuff with it, like making vegan meringues, and other treats that usually rely on egg whites. I actually hardly ever use mayonnaise, so I don’t keep it around, but I do throw out a lot of bean water when I cook garbanzo beans for hummus, so I used this recipe (doubled) to make vegan mayonnaise for the kimchi potato salad. It was really easy, and turned out perfectly, so I highly recommend it.
I also grew these potatoes! They were kind of surprise potatoes, because I had never grown them before, but I was helping my mom in her yard in June or July, and we came across a bag of sprouted seed potatoes in her garage that she had forgotten to plant. She gave them to me, and I planted them, not really expecting them to do well, since they were getting a late start. But they grew, and I mostly forgot about them until a few days ago, when I noticed that the plants were dying, meaning it was time to harvest them (or my crop had failed, as far as I could tell). I was kind of shocked when I dug them up and found myself with three pounds of potatoes. So that’s the other reason I made this kimchi potato salad. Here’s about half of the potatoes I used for this recipe:
I’ll have a couple more plants’ worth of potatoes to harvest soon, hopefully just in time to make another batch of kimchi potato salad after this one runs out.
Spicy Kimchi Potato Salad
3 lbs waxy or all-purpose potatoes (such as new, fingerling, Yukon Gold, white, or red potatoes)
1 tsp salt, for boiling
2 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
3 green onions, chopped (1/3 cup), plus additional for garnish
1 1/2 cups vegan (or non-vegan) mayonnaise
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
14 oz traditional kimchi, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Add clean, scrubbed whole potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt to a large pot, and fully cover potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until skins begin to crack and a fork is easily inserted.
Remove from stove, drain, and cool on the countertop or fridge until no longer warm, at least 30 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooling, chop the celery and green onions. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and cracked pepper.
After the potatoes have cooled, chop them into 1-inch chunks and put them in a large bowl. Add the celery, onions, and kimchi, and toss to combine. Pour in the dressing, and stir until everything is evenly coated.
Taste, and add cayenne pepper to taste if you want it spicier. Serve with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper for color and additional heat, and chopped green onions.
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