Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Potato and Onion Salad with Smoked Albacore



I present to you: Potato Salad.

That said, it's a pretty special potato salad with smoked trout and piquant arugula, but potato salad. I find that I have many disparate thoughts about this potato salad, and I lack the inclination (and talent) today to string together these thoughts into something coherent and clever.  Instead, I present to you a bullet-point list about a savory, peppery and smoky potato salad that I urge you to give a try should you have the inclination (and time).

  • Deborah Madison (our cookbook's author) tells the story of finding smoked albacore at her local farmer's market. I had smoked trout, instead. Indeed, smoked trout is a boon. Not only is it caramelized and earthy-sweet-smokey, but it is one of those treats with lovely, pleasant memories associated with it. Earlier, I wrote an homage to a friend, who often served smoked trout before a massive Canadian thanksgiving feast. Before the meal, we would all crowd on his and his wife's little balcony with its abundance of flowers and a well-stocked drink cart. There, we would snack on smoked trout and cheese on crackers as each settled into a sweet teasing from one another. Perhaps it was the martini, perhaps it was just the company, but we all felt--what the Danish call--hygge: that warm atmosphere of being with people you adore. Smoked trout is part of the way I began to feel at home in California among dear friends and a dear man whom I still miss. 
  • I spent Sunday morning listening to the final hour of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's  Americanah on Audible. I peeled and sliced apples for an applesauce for breakfast, and I boiled potatoes and eggs for this potato salad for lunch as Adichie's story wound down to its delightful conclusion. I loved Americanah, in part because I love Adichie, and I love her Ted Talk (as do about 8 million other people), and I love her collection of short stories The Thing Around Your Neck, particularly the title story. So, this Sunday morning, it was bittersweet as I finished listening to Americanah. I was eager to finish the book (as I always am when I come to the end of a novel), but I didn't quite want it to end.  This, of course, has absolutely nothing specific to do with potato salad, it's just what I was doing while I made the potato salad. And it was lovely.
  • (I also have to note that listening to a book is so viscerally different than reading it.  Throughout the day, I can hear Adjoa Andoh, the reader of the book, and her voice calling out "Ifem" or "Ranyinudo" in a particular cadence. After spending almost 18 hours with Andoh's voice, I find that I miss her and I miss Adichie's narrative).   

  • I don't like raw onions. Turns out that I like sweet raw onions that have been soaked in champagne vinegar and olive oil. None of the tell-tale bitterness lingers. However, a toothbrushing is in order after eating this salad.
  • This potato salad is equally good hot as it is cold. Make enough of it so that you can try it both ways.  Regardless of whether I served the salad hot or cold, I found that I didn't want the arugula to sit in the oil and vinegar.  Thus, in the hot version, I tossed the handful of arugula in at the last minute with the just sliced potatoes and stirred them around gently to keep the potatoes from breaking up. The arugula added a crunchy contrast to the softness of the potatoes. When I served it cold (read: when I took it for lunch the next day), I set aside un-arugula-ed potato salad to cool and then added the arugula to the cold potato salad just before serving (read: sitting down at my desk with a compostable fork). Thus, the arugula had not grown soggy and the salad was still quite tasty.
 
  • If you need a more traditional potato salad, then may I recommend a previous entry on potato salad from America's Test Kitchen.  I have sermonized, dear reader, about the addition of dill pickles to potato salad; however, I would now like to add smoked trout to the list of fine ingredients one could happily add to potato salad. (Although I would not recommend with dill pickles. That's just crazy talk.) So many options for something that seems so simple.
Okay, that does it for a discursive entry on Thanksgiving memories, a phenomenal book, raw onions and traditional potato salad. Happy Tuesday, my friends.

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Potato and Onion Salad with Smoked Albacore

Yield:
Serves 4

Ingredients:  
1 1/2 pounds potatoes (use fingerlings, or any other waxy boiling type such as Red Date, Salad Red, Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold)*
salt and pepper
1 sweet onion, sliced rounds, about 1 cup
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
16 black or green olives, pitted and halved
6 ounces smoked albacore, flaked**
2 good handfuls coarsely chopped arugula
2 hard-boiled eggs

*I used small Yukon Golds, quartered or halved
**Although another flaky, smoked fish--such as trout---will do

Instructions:
1.  Cover the potatoes with cold salted water and bring to a boil.

2.  While they're cooking, toss the onion with vinegar, oil, olives, dish, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

3.  When the potatoes are fork-tender, drain them, then cut in half lengthwise. While still hot, add them to the bowl along with the arugula.  Turn gently.  Taste for salt and season with pepper.  Serve garnished with the egg, cut into quarters or halves.


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