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It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Zing: Asian Potato Salad

I make no claims to authenticity on this yummy tasty novel–er, salad–save for that a more anodyne version of this dish is found in Korean salad bars and the lunchtime bento specials of many a D.C. pan-Asian restaurant. I mean, sweet potatoes aren’t even orange in Japan and Korea. But, well, that’s where the inspiration came from, though my version has a bit more verve, thanks to two kinds of ginger, two different alliums, and a little hot sauce.

I recently brought this, along with my more authentic sesame-dressed green beans, to a friend’s green card party where both were gobbled up with verve. The honoree, however, who is famed for carrying tiny bottles of Tabasco around in her pocket book, thought this was just divine. While it’s not that hot by any stretch, this potato salad has it all. The rich, complexly tangy dressing dances over the earthy, sweet potatoes in a most delightful way.

Asian Sweet Potato Salad
Makes 6-8 side servings

5 large sweet potatoes
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs miso
1 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 small clove garlic
1 1″ knob fresh ginger, peeled
4 scallions
4 tbs minced cilantro
2 tbs drained & minced pickled ginger*
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbs black sesame seeds*

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1″ pieces. Steam over boiling water about 10 min, until just tender. Carefully remove steamer basket from pot and set aside. In a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, miso, and Sriracha. Mix well.  Using a ginger grater, grate in the garlic and the ginger. Dice the scallions, and add them, with the cilantro and pickled ginger, to the bowl. Add salt and pepper and stir. Add potatoes and gently toss to coat them in the dressing. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

*Both the pickled ginger and the black sesame seeds are optional–the salad will be just as delish without them. They are, however, supremely delightful ingredients that one should really have on hand–even if you’re not going to be making these fabulous things anytime soon…

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