Kimchi—fermented vegetables (and Korea’s national dish)—combines with potatoes, scallions and bacon to become what just may be the best potato salad we’ve ever tasted. Recipe below.
Cabbage and potatoes are our two favorite food groups. Okay, so they’re not technically food groups, but they should be. Cabbage is versatile—think slaws, soups, stews, sideman for corned beef—and it’s one of the healthiest things you can eat. And potatoes… well, they’re potatoes.
We’re not alone in our thinking here. Cabbage and/or potatoes figure heavily in the culinary traditions of many countries and cultures. And some cultures combine the two. Polish bigos, or hunter’s stew, and Irish corned beef and cabbage are prime examples.
One way we’re really enjoying cabbage these days is as kimchi. Korea’s national dish, kimchi is vegetables fermented in various spices for months, often underground. There are countless varieties, some featuring cucumbers, scallions or radishes as the main ingredient, but the one most familiar in the United States is made with Napa cabbage. It is wonderfully tangy, verging on sour, often spicy and loaded with umami.
So when I was flipping through the most recent issue of Food Arts and came across the words “kimchi potato salad,” my immediate thought was “we have to make this.” And when I said those words to Marion, she immediately said, “We have to make this.” We did. It was even more amazing than we thought it would be, and we had set our expectations pretty high. You should make it. Here’s how.
Kimchi Potato Salad
Serves 6 as a side
2-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
4 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch matchsticks (see Kitchen Notes)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons kimchi pickling juice
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped kimchi (see Kitchen Notes)
Cook the potatoes. Rinse them, then put in a big pot with cold water to cover. Salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a vigorous simmer and cook until potatoes can be pierced easily with a sharp knife.
While potatoes are cooking, sauté bacon until crisp in a large skillet, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Prepare the dressing, combining mayonnaise, yogurt, olive oil, kimchi pickling juice, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl.
Assemble the potato salad. When potatoes are just tender, drain and place in a large bowl. Let them cool slightly, maybe 5 minutes. Add dressing and stir gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to coat potatoes. Add most of the scallions, reserving a handful of the green tops, the kimchi and the bacon. Stir gently until just combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with reserved scallion greens. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
Don’t leave out the bacon. We almost did, but biting into occasional little bites of it adds so much to the multilayered experience of this wonderful potato salad. If you must make a vegetarian version of this salad, you can skip it. Otherwise, you absolutely need it.
Finding kimchi. If you have access to an Asian (and preferably Korean) market, you should find a dazzling array. Probably any kind you find will be delicious. Increasingly, you can find kimchi in most supermarkets too.
Hungry for more kimchi recipes? Try Marion’s savory Kimchi Pancake with Chicken.