Sometimes classic American dishes get a little tired. Yes, there is everything to love about potato salad, if you share my sentiments on the matter, but why not break out of the expected creamy mustardy eggy goodness with spicy creamy mustardy eggy Thai-inspired goodness? I can tell you one thing, you won’t be seeing duplicates of this potato salad at your next pot luck (unless, of course, you socialize with other NCK readers, which I have to say makes me happy despite the excess of unique potato salad that may ensue). On top of the Thai twist, there’s the added perk of nutrient-packed sweet potatoes. As if that’s a news flash, but I had to mention it.
I’m not totally sure what inspired this salad, but I’m thinking that maybe I was hungry for Pad Thai and a cool, refreshing, filling potato salad all at the same time? As much as I want to be adventurous, I really can’t help but order Pad Thai whenever it’s on the menu, including at a clearly Japanese restaurant that specializes in sushi. When I like something, I like it a lot.
Without overcomplicating the salad, I wanted to incorporate as many Thai flavors as possible. Not only because this is a Thai salad, but because the sweet potatoes need lots of salty and spicy and just flavors in general to balance out what can be an overwhelming sweetness. Confession: I love sweet potatoes, but I tend to absolutely douse them in butter and salt when eating them baked. Steve devoured the salad both times, but I was only truly happy with it on the second go, when I added the hot mustard both to achieve a more intense level of spice and to pay homage to the mustard in any good American tater salad. The other connection to the American version is the hard boiled eggs. They keep the texture varied and serve as a reminder that you’re at a Labor Day picnic, as opposed to your favorite hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant.
As with any good picnic food, there are tons of make ahead options for this salad. Choose the ones you have time for, or do everything at once closer to serving time. Prepare the dressing up to a day in advance so the flavors deepen and play off each other even more. Cube the potatoes in advance and store them in the refrigerator covered in water. Cook the potato pieces and store them in the refrigerator (covered). They’ll become more firm as they cool and stand a better chance of not getting squished when you stir everything together. Finally, assemble the whole salad a day ahead of time if that works best. The potatoes will soak in some of the dressing, which is a good thing, but you may want to stir in a few more tablespoons of mayo before serving to moisten (ahhhh, the M word!!!) the dish.
Thai Sweet Potato Salad
- Yield: 4 to 6 side dish servings 1x
Gluten-free, meatless, vegan option.
- 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1 C mayonnaise (or vegan mayonnaise)
- 2 T lime juice (plus one lime for garnish, optional)
- 2 t roasted red chili paste (see notes below)
- 1 t Tamari (or soy sauce; plus more as needed for seasoning)
- 1 T grated ginger (substitute 1 T minced if you don’t have a grater or microplane)
- 1 T minced garlic
- 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 T hot mustard
- 1/2 C frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced (slice and reserve darker green tops for garnish, if desired)
- 3 T chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
- 2 to 4 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
- Roasted peanuts, chopped (optional garnish)
- If time permits, make the dressing up to a day in advance so the flavors have time to blend and deepen. To do so, stir together the mayonnaise, lime juice, chili paste, tamari, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and hot mustard. Taste and add tamari a little at a time if more salt is needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potato cubes, return to a low boil, and cook until tender. Check the potatoes after 5 minutes–they should be done or nearly done, piercing easily all the way through with a fork or paring knife. Drain the potatoes, rinse with cool water to stop further cooking, then set the strainer in the refrigerator to cool them quickly.
- To assemble the salad, gently stir together the cooked, cooled potato pieces, edamame, slice scallions, chopped cilantro, hard boiled eggs, and dressing. Try not to smash any of the potato pieces. Garnish with any combination of peanuts, scallion tops, cilantro leaves, and lime slices.
Roasted red chili paste lends a warm, not so much spicy, flavor to the dressing. It rounds out the full effect of the dressing, so try to find it! Thai Kitchen brand, which I used, can be found in many mainstream grocery stores. If you experiment with any substitutes, let me know!
Edamame: To thaw quickly, heat in a microwave safe dish at 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. Stop microwaving when edamame is between cold and lukewarm.
- Category: Side Dish
- Cuisine: Fusion
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