Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sweet potato salad

To quote David Sedaris (quoting his mother, actually), "I like a good steak done rare." Mmmh, and I sure do. We had a hankering for some red meat this evening, and steaks on the grill hit the spot. As accompaniment, we made creamed spinach and sweet potato salad. More on that in a minute.

I've never had creamed spinach that I didn't make, and I've only made it twice. As far as we can tell, though, it seems to be a steak house staple. I just made a basic bechamel and wilted in some fresh spinach, along with a dash of nutmeg. Tastes great but is it authentic?

I found a recipe for Sweet Potato Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing while searching for a good pot luck picnic dish for our office Memorial Day party. Typical of myself, I read it once, printed it out, then promptly ignored it and made it the way it seemed, with no measurements and only sketchy memory of the original.

First I cubed and boiled sweet potato, much like you would for regular potato salad, until fork-tender. The dressing was rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, a drizzle of honey, a bit of brown sugar, a few hearty dollops of sambal olek, a dash of sesame oil, and crunchy peanut butter. Whisked together, it looked a bit odd. Amazingly balanced, though. Not really sweet, not too salty, with a tang of sour but a wonderfully earthy nuttiness. I mixed in chopped scallions, then folded the potato, a bit at a time, until coated.

I really liked it! Very like chilled sesame noodles, but without the noodles. The original recipe called for mayo (ew! why?) and snow peas, too. Probably a bunch of other things as well, but we've already established the futility of a recipe. I hope I can recreate it at the end of the month for my coworkers.

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