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Potato salad on the Korean table


TAPrice
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I ate recently at local Korean restaurant, and the little plates of banchan served with my meal there included a bowl of creamy, U.S.-style potato salad.

I was surprised, but I have this vague memory of encountering potato salad before at a Korean restaurant (I think I was surprise the first time as well).

Is this an odd quirk of my particular local restaurant? Or is mayo-based potato salad not so unusual on the Korean table?

What's the story here? Some kind of cross-cultural contact? A immigrant's substitution of a traditional dish with a somewhat similar American product?

(On a less scholarly track, the potato salad went well with the various kimichis and bibim bap.)

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I've received potato salad as part of banchan/panchan here in Atlanta on several occasions, but have never thought of it as being particularly American. It is creamy, and tastes like it contains mayonnaise, but not much else like celery or onions typical of what you would find in a western version. Much smaller pieces, softer consistency.

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It's actually from Japan but now very common in Korea. They serve it in sandwiches too.

I find it different than American potato salad b/c I find it has more vegetables like cucumbers and carrots and sometimes has sliced apple or pineapple or diced ham in it.

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It's actually from Japan but now very common in Korea. They serve it in sandwiches too.

I find it different than American potato salad b/c I find it has more vegetables like cucumbers and carrots and sometimes has sliced apple or pineapple or diced ham in it.

Interesting. How long has it been common in Japan (obviously not before the final years of the 15th century :biggrin: ).

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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Neat topic. I've often noticed the potato salad at my favorite Korean restaurants, and it perplexed me a little, since it does seem like a Western style dish thrown into the mix, to me at least.

Up until now, I lumped it under the category of culinary blending of traditions that would explain iceberg lettuce salads at Japanese restaurants and Western broccoli in Chinese stir-fries.

I've also noticed some Korean places serving boiled peanuts where they'd normally serve edamame (in Korean sushi restaurants) as part of the banchan here in Georgia. I like the substitution, and I can imagine it might be cost-effective or simply more convenient to procure for the restaurant.

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I saw a sliding scale for (what I and my friends called) "creamy salad" in Korean restaurant banchan.

Top-end quality meat places had both sweet potato and regular potato salad - often served with attractive garnishes, such as on a perilla leaf, with chopped gochu on top. (I adore sweet potato salad)

Slightly cheaper places had either regular or sweet potato salad.

Slightly cheaper places still, like all-you-can-eat meat buffets, served apple salad - essentially chopped apples in mayonnaise. Which was weird, because generally apples were more expensive than potatoes in Korea. Despite the rather abhorrent sound of it - apples coated in mayonnaise - I developed quite the taste for this. It really cut the heat of all the chilis.

Cheap, college student type places, like the ddalk galbi places with self-serve banchan, usually had macaroni with chopped cucumber and corn, dressed with the ubiquitous mayonnaise-ketchup dressing that I christened "mayochup".

The cheapest of cheap served shredded cabbage with mayo-chup. This was often a side dish for tonkatsu or cheapest of the cheap - we're talking $3 a head - all-you-can-eat ddalk galbi joints.

I went through a LOT of creamy salad in Korea.

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It's actually from Japan but now very common in Korea. They serve it in sandwiches too.

Interesting. How long has it been common in Japan (obviously not before the final years of the 15th century :biggrin: ).

I couldn't find a specific citation, but salads themselves weren't popularized in Japan until after WWII (according to the Japanese Wikipedia, not first-hand experience). My guess would be that potato salads became popular somewhere around the late 50s or 60s. I believe it was already a common dish for Japanese families by the 70s and possibly before that.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I love that stuff! I never ate it at home as banchan, but I ate it it at a lot of korean restaurants. Its not really traditional potato salad. its just mostly potatos and apples covered in mayo. Its actually pretty refreshing to eat on a really warm day in korea. I also saw it in some korean sandwiches with plain ol white bread.

koreans <3 mayo I think as much as the japanese do.

BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
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OMG yes, there was a vendor next to Incheon Station who would make a sandwich from three pieces of bread, and on the first layer put ham and American cheese, and on the second layer spread potato salad about a half inch thick. The whole thing was fried monte-cristo style. With a can of Pocari Sweat, that was some fine hangover recovery food there.

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its amazing what the japanese and koreans can do with white bread and mayonaise.

I don't know why, but I am hankering for some korean potato salad with apples and corn on some white bread. I think you would have to pay me to eat that crap when I was in korea.

some korean bakeries sell potato salad rolls here in the US. The problem with savoury applications in korea is that they always manage to taste sweet.

BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
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This is one banchan I also send back with the waitress. Some places sprinkle cornflakes on the salad, some add corn and raisins. What the heck??? It varies from one ssam place to another. I sometimes like the ones with just peas and macaroni in the salad. But I eat it once in a blue moon.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

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Nakji did a great job categorizing the different types of mayo-based salads served at Korean eateries.

Some more recent mayo-based variations served in Korean restaurants:

1. Yellow pumpkin salad - Steamed yellow squash (such as acorn) mixed with mayo, diced red/green peppers, diced onions (optional), raisins (optional).

2. "chon sa chae" salad - Seaweed gelatin based "noodles" mixed with mayo. I have a feeling that this is made from the same process used for making the skinless raviolis popularized by el bulli. Except the noodles are crunchy in texture.

3. Macaroni salad - Cooked elbow macaroni mixed with mayo, chopped carrots (optional), chopped peanuts (optional), raisins (optional).

Edited by thdad (log)
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I see it all the time here in the Seattle/ Tacoma area ..but only in the restaurants not at my Korean friends houses..when I asked my girlfriend ..who happens to be Korean "why?" ..she laughed and said "why not it tastes good with grilled meat doesn't it?" and she is right it does so why not?

the only bad part to me is I don't usually like how it is prepared ..it tastes like that Miracle Whip stuff instead of mayo and is usually very sweet ..each chef and their on recipe however so I keep trying it and hoping.....because I think it would be good with grilled spicy meats and seafood ...it is just so far I have yet to find the one I actually like the taste of...

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