A Potato Salad That Packs a Serious Umami Punch

Serve with barbecue slathered in one of Steven Raichlen’s three new sauces and Millie Peartree’s sweet-tart Hennessy coladas.

By Mia Leimkuhler

Hello! Mia here, filling in for Melissa Clark, who’s on vacation. I’ll start with a confession: For most of my life, I was a potato-salad hater. Too much mayonnaise, too many lackluster celery chunks, too much meh. Why smush potatoes into mayo when you could shingle them with cheese or roast them until crispy?

What changed my mind was fish, specifically the realization that smoked salmon, tinned mackerel and — favorite of favorites — salmon roe were perfect partners to lush potato salad. So, of course, I immediately saved Kenji López-Alt’s Japanese potato salad with mentaiko (above) to my recipe box. It’s creamy (the base is boiled russets and plenty of Kewpie) and crunchy (thanks to chopped cucumber and radishes), and the mentaiko gives it a satisfyingly salty kick. It’s potato salad, but with umami oomph.

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Japanese Potato Salad with Mentaiko

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But, because I know firsthand that potato salad is not for everyone, here’s Hetty McKinnon’s cold noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce. Made with nutty soba noodles, this recipe is endlessly adaptable. Toss in whichever crunchy veggies you have on hand, and use any seed or nut butter in place of the peanut butter.

Where there are sturdy salads, there’s usually barbecue, and Steven Raichlen has three new sauces to see you through your summer cookouts: Alabama white barbecue sauce, North Carolina vinegar sauce and South Carolina mustard BBQ sauce. The good news is that all three are based on pantry staples — cider vinegar, mustard and mayonnaise — so you could easily make them for spooning onto pork chops and salmon steaks. The bad news is that you may start an argument over which sauce reigns supreme, but, for that, there’s Millie Peartree’s Hennessy colada, a caramelly riff on a piña colada. Make a batch, and everyone will be busy sipping, not sniping.

To finish: Christian Reynoso’s strawberry pudding cake. This magical recipe yields a crisp top crust, tender interior and custardy sauce at the bottom, with juicy berries studded throughout. Pass out spoons and eat this straight from the skillet.

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Thank you for reading! The brilliant Julia Moskin will be with you on Monday. I’ll point you to her report on Ample Hills Creamery’s comeback, and, because to read about ice cream is to want ice cream, her recipe for the easiest vanilla ice cream.

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