At our house, the first warm day that my husband takes out his grill is potato salad season. I love a good potato salad particularly because it is such an easy side for a casual get together. One labor day I brought it to a luncheon at a friend's family beach house in the Rockaways. Her grandmother was so full of compliments I felt like a Domestic Potato Salad Goddess for the day. Really, I think I just got lucky. Two uninspiring batches of potato salad later and my domestic goddess status was demoted.
The ingredients in my potato salad are like commas in my writing attempts. I just, don't know, when, I have too many, where, to put them in, or when, to leave them out. Like all cooking, art and life (it alway comes to that), the priority has to be balance, then all the ingredients fall into place. The formula: potatoes, one or two crunchy vegetables, one or two flavor boosters like onion, hot pepper, or capers, a choice of meat, egg or fish, an herb or spice, and a dressing to serve as a binder, most commonly mayonaise or oil paired with an acidic flavor. More than that and I have not been successful. The flavors just don't shine through.
So if I haven't mentioned this before, Nick and I live in Greenpoint, Brookyn. This is a well established Polish community with distinctly Polish flavors up and down (and in between) our main drag. This suits me and my Polish-American husband just fine, especially when we are craving some comfort food in form of a smokey fish or meat. The morning of this potato salad, a neighbor brought us a beautiful, rich coral orange steak of smoked salmon from Acme Smoked Fish. Sadly. I have never been able to go myself as they are only open for public retail on Friday mornings. Ah, the limitations of a day job. Thinking of playing hooky anytime soon? Maybe for an exceptional smoked salmon experience? Needless to say, some if it made it into our potato salad and the rest, well, got devoured as is and with our fingers.
Potato Salad Greenpoint Style with Smoked Salmon
5 or 6 potatoes cubed
2 to three scallions (I like to use only the greens) chopped
3 radishes chopped
A handful of the chopped radish greens*
2 teaspoons capers
3 1/2 inch cut of smoked salmon steak diced
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1/2 cup mayonaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 glugs of olive oil
juice of one lemon
Boil your potatos in salted water until tender but not mushy. You want them to be soft when your fork goes through but not to fall apart. Then drain. In a large bowl, toss your chopped radishes, radish greens, scallions, smoked salmon and capers, In a small bowl, whisk together mayonaise, mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice with a little salt and pepper. I like to add the potatoes while they are still very warm but not steaming hot. I would recommend letting them cool for 7 to 10 minutes. The hotter they are the more they will absorb your dressing. You want them to absorb some of the dressing but not so much so that the other ingredients don't get enough. Finish with another sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper.
*I often reserve the greens of a root vegetable to use in a dish like I would parsley. Why waste it when it is tasty and delicious?