German Potato Salad
This recipe is featured in Pottery & Potato Salad
German potato salad is made without mayonnaise and is delicious. It should sit for at least an hour (more is better) before dinner; it can be made a day ahead. It is best served at room temperature.
- Servings 4
- 680 grams (1½ pounds) red-skinned or other waxy potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes, one per person and one for the pot, or 8 to 10 small ones)
- 59 ml (¼ cup) potato water, or as needed (from cooking the potatoes)
- 59 ml (¼ cup) vinegar
- 1.2 ml (¼ teaspoon) salt, or to taste
- .6 ml (1/8 teaspoon) white pepper, or to taste
- 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) sugar
- Half a medium-sized onion, cut into small dice (about 1/4 cup)
- 59 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil (not olive oil)
- 15-30 ml (1-2 tablespoons) finely chopped mixed dill, parsley and chives (optional)
1. Boil the potatoes. Small potatoes are actually nicer, in which case use two small ones per person. Don’t over-boil them, catch them before the skin cracks, after about 15 minutes; a knife should feel no resistance. Pour off but save the water. Let the potatoes cool until you can comfortably handle them. (I put them on the counter to cool.) Slice them into thin slices. If using bigger potatoes, turn the potato as you slice it so as to make the slices smaller. I usually slice them right into the cooking pot and only at meal time transfer the salad into a nicer bowl.
2. Put the potato water, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar into a small pan and boil it up. Add the onion and let sit for a few minutes. When you stick your finger in the liquid to taste it, your face should twist and a “wow” may escape your lips. If it doesn’t, add a little more vinegar.
3. Pour the liquid and onion over the sliced potatoes. It is fine if you have a little liquid in the bottom – eventually the potatoes will absorb it. Drizzle the oil on top and stir it gently with a wooden spoon. Taste it in about a half hour and adjust the seasoning. It may need more salt and pepper or, if it seems dry, a little more of the potato water. If desired, mix in or garnish with finely chopped herbs. Taste again before you serve it – it may need more adjusting.
NOTE: For variation I have sometimes added two cut-up hard-boiled eggs, or a couple of cubed pickles, or added some thinly-sliced, peeled cucumber – especially if I thought it was not quite enough. The Germans would add about 30-45 ml (2-3 tablespoons) of bacon bits and the fat in which the bacon was rendered. It is delicious, but may raise some American eyebrows. So would my mother-in-law’s final touch: a beat-up raw egg gently mixed in – “so it looks nice and shiny.”