A little something on the side: Three potato recipes spice up dinner

by Terry B on January 13, 2010

Three different ingredients—cayenne pepper, wasabi powder and, in the case of Marion’s Asian-inspired “poison gas potatoes” below, Sriracha hot sauce—add kick to three different potato side dishes. Recipes below.


Potatoes are pretty versatile as sides go. Even the everyday treatments we all rely on—baked, mashed, roasted, fried—show their flavorful flexibility. But add a little heat and things get really interesting.

This week, we’re featuring three potato recipes that do just that. The results range from subtle, with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, to semi-serious spiciness, with Spicy Roasted Potatoes and Marion’s delicious [if frighteningly named] Poison Gas Potatoes. We’ll start with the one with the most intriguing name.

Poison Gas Potatoes

There’s nothing that will clear the kitchen faster than when these potatoes are cooking and the Sriracha hot sauce hits the pan. Suddenly, eyes and nasal passages are burning, and everyone’s coughing, unless you’ve got a really good vent over your stove. Even with a vent, they make their presence known. Hence the nickname that stuck as the recipe name.

sriracha-huy-fongThere’s also nothing more guaranteed to make spice-loving potato fans happy at the dinner table. With a crispy exterior, spicy kick and tangy, slightly vinegary flavor, they can steal the show from mild-mannered main courses.

The source of all this tangy heat is Sriracha Hot Sauce [pronounced sir-RAH-cha], invented and produced in Southern California by a Vietnamese immigrant. Daniel Patterson sings its praises in “Ingredient of the Year: Sriracha Hot Sauce” in the January issue of Bon Appétit. Patterson calls its creation a textbook example of an immigrant success story. “David Tran came to the U.S. from Vietnam, eventually landing in Los Angeles in 1980. He couldn’t find a chili sauce that he liked, so he decided to make his own, which he sold out of the back of his van. As his following grew, he moved into a processing facility in Rosemead, a Los Angeles suburb, and began adding other sauces—sriracha, named after the traditional Asian chili sauces from the seaside town of Si Racha, Thailand, was by far his most successful. Tran’s Huy Fong Foods now sells more than 10 million bottles of it a year. “

Chefs and home cooks alike have embraced Tran’s “rooster sauce.” Personally, I can’t remember when there hasn’t been a bottle in our fridge. Try Marion’s potatoes and you’ll keep it on hand too.

Poison Gas Potatoes
Serves 4 to 6

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
olive oil
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce [see Kitchen Notes for substitutions]
1 tablespoon finely sliced scallion

Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces of approximately the same volume.

Put in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer.  Cook the potatoes until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, add them back to the pot and dry them over low heat for a minute.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to each of two nonstick skillets.  Turn the heat on to medium high. When the oil is hot and starting to shimmer, pour in the potatoes, half in each skillet. Shake the skillet to distribute the potatoes so none are overlapping and at least one side of each lies flat in the pan. Salt lightly. Then leave the potatoes alone in the pans for about 3 minutes or so, until the first side forms a beautiful golden crust.  Start testing by turning the potatoes in the center of the pan. [I use chopsticks for this, quickly flicking the pieces over.] If the ones in the center are cooking faster, then move them to the outside when you turn them, sorting everything sides to middle.

If your stove has a vent fan, turn it on now. When at least two sides of the potatoes are nicely golden, scatter a tablespoon of Sriracha in each of the pans. Be careful! When I add the hot sauce, I try to lean back a bit in case of spattering. This is the point when the poison gas forms—a cloud of spicy steam that will briefly fill the kitchen and, sometimes, the apartment. With two spatulas, toss the potatoes so that the sriracha is evenly distributed in each pan and the potatoes are orange-red. If necessary, add a bit more Sriracha, but remember—it’s very potent.

Pour into a serving bowl, scatter with the scallions, and serve hot.

Kitchen notes

Can’t find Sriracha Hot Paste? This can be made with Szechwan paste or chili paste. If the brand you use has seeds, pass it through a sieve beforehand and discard the seeds.

Spicy Roasted Potatoes


These potatoes are another crowd pleaser. Roasting them gives them a nice crust on the outside and keeps them tender inside. And mixing baking potatoes and sweet potatoes makes them more interesting visually and flavorwise.

They’re a real cook pleaser too. Simple to prepare—most of the cooking time is unattended—and beautiful to serve. I originally posted this recipe a couple of years ago. You’ll find the original Spicy Roasted Potatoes post here.

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Yeah, that wasabi. The sinus-opening, tongue-burning, horseradish-based condiment often served with sushi. Only here, its effect is much more subtle, a mere suggestion of heat and the mildest hint of horseradish. I use about a tablespoon of wasabi powder in this recipe. You can use wasabi paste instead, if that’s what you can find.

I also use buttermilk in this recipe, instead of plain milk or cream. When we have it in the house, I use buttermilk for my plain mashed potatoes too—I find that the slightly tangy taste it adds lets me get by with using less butter for some reason. And as much as I love butter, less is good.

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks [I always use Yukon Gold, but russets would also work]
3/4 cup buttermilk [you can also use milk]
1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1/4 cup butter [1/2 stick]
salt to taste

Put potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Season with salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until just tender, about 10 – 15 minutes. Meanwhile whisk wasabi powder into buttermilk. Drain cooked potatoes and return to pot. Heat over a low flame for just a minute or so to evaporate excess moisture.

Add butter and buttermilk/wasabi powder mixture to potatoes and mash thoroughly with a hand masher. If potatoes are too thick or dry, add more milk, just a tablespoon or so at a time—you don’t want them mushy. Season to taste with salt.

Make ahead. Potatoes can be made an hour or so ahead. Cover and keep at room temperature. Rewarm before serving over low heat, stirring frequently.


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Toni January 13, 2010 at 4:24 am

I think you’ve been reading my mind. I just made scalloped potatoes for the first time in my life. I’ve just had this necessity for potatoes lately – is it a winter thing? I ADORE the name “Poison Gas Potatoes”! Must make it!!!! (I’m weird, OK?)

Melissa January 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Ohhhh…you’re potatoes look excellent. Nice and golden brown & crusty (a good thing for potatoes or bread!) I bet they would make great breakfast potatoes.

altadenahiker January 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I may not be able to find skate, but I can sure rustle up a potato or two. I always have a supply of Sriracha and use it with a pretty free hand. If not available locally, he has a website and you can order online.

Terry B January 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Hi, Toni. We’ve gone through starch phases over the years. For a while, we went through 25-pound sacks of rice at an alarming rate. Then boatloads of pasta. Now we seem to do pasta, potatoes and rice, in that order of volume. Regarding the name, when Marion was committing her recipe to a written version, I suggested telling the nickname but calling them something less volatile. She asked why and I couldn’t come up with a good reason. So poison gas potatoes it was.

I’d never thought of it, Melissa, but these would be great for breakfast! Particularly with eggs and maybe sausage or bacon.

Altadenahiker—You hit me as someone who uses a free hand with the hot sauce. You can also find Sriracha on Amazon, in case you’re looking for something to help you hit the free shipping dollar amount.

altadenahiker January 13, 2010 at 7:44 pm

I love that Marion held firm on the name. It stands out from the crowd.

Dani H January 13, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I almost licked the first photo of the potatoes. I LOVE fried potatoes and onions with breakfast. These days, that’s a very rare treat. I look forward to trying the spicy roasted potatoes, too. I’m not big on pasta or rice, so potatoes are my starch of choice when splurging. I came to love Tabasco sauce as a child in Texas – could I substitute Tobasco for the Sriracha?

Terry B January 14, 2010 at 12:45 am

Altadenahiker, I think my main concern was what bizarre search results this post might end up in. But hey, even kooks need to cook, right?

Dani H—I’m sure Tabasco sauce would make an interesting version of these potatoes. But if you’re a lifelong fan of that great hot sauce, you owe it to yourself to branch out and explore Sriracha too. It has a huge following too, and for good reason.

Alina January 14, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hehe preparing Poison Gas potatoes sounds exciting!! :) The first picture is great.
The wasabi mashed potatoes must be very interesting too. Speaking about wasabi, I’ve recently discovered wasabi peanuts – that’s something *Extremely* addictive! Unfortunately they are not sold here, I brought them from Slovakia (they’re made in Thailand though). Do you think there’s a method for making wasabi peanuts at home?..:)

Alta January 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm

LOL @ Poison Gas Potatoes! That similar thing happens in my kitchen when I toast dried chiles – everyone starts sneezing and coughing and we have to open a window. I’d definitely try these though – Sriracha is a MUST in our household.

Terry B January 14, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Alina—I had to check your site to see where “here” was. No wasabi peanuts in Latvia, eh? I found a recipe for wasabi peanuts [and wasabi peas too, another delicious treat] at Backwoods Home Magazine. The roasting time sounds suspiciously long, but other than that, it sounds like a good, easy recipe.

If you’re toasting dried chiles, these potatoes sound right up your alley, Alta!

Miss Franberry January 17, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I nearly teared up int he kitchen trying these out. Thanks!

I’ve just started my own little food blog, and I’m definitely adding you to my blogroll.


Martin September 10, 2012 at 4:35 am

Love to print out this receipe, but this stupid site doesn’t have a print icon to eliminate pictures and comments. PLEASE COMPLAIN

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