The Best Korean Potato Salad (Gamja Salad 감자샐러드)
One of the great things about living in the UK is getting to eat the wonderfully delish Jersey Royal potatoes!
One of the great things about living in the UK is getting to eat the wonderfully delish Jersey Royal potatoes! My favorite spud in the USA has to be the Yukon golds, for their gorgeous gilt hues and naturally buttery taste. Jersey Royals are only available from April to June every year because they are hand planted in January on the isle of Jersey, in sloping fields (called côtil) overlooking the sea. The seed potatoes are fertilized with seaweed, called vraic. The local farmers protect the potatoes during winter frosts by covering the fields with fleece blankets. The result is a truly flavorsome potato, creamy in texture with gorgeous earthy nutty notes.
I thought it was the perfect tater to make a classic Korean potato salad! Known as Gamja Salad, is very similar to western potato salad, but usually incorporates either cucumber or apples for added crunch and sweetness. You’ll often see it as a side dish, or banchan, in Korean restaurants coming out alongside kimchi and other namul / vegetable dishes. I always thought it was a bit random, but it has always been a popular banchan for as long as I can remember.
Usually, the potato salad is spooned into a dish using an ice cream scoop and made with either mashed or chunky cooked potatoes. Its roots probably go back to southern cooking, and this dish coming to Korea via American GIs.
I have jazzed my version up a bit:
- I’m using jersey royals and leaving the skin on. I love the texture and the skin provides a lot of nutrients, including vitamin B, C, iron, potassium and calcium.
- Deseed the cucumber. The extra water from the seeds can make your salad too loose. I also like to cut it a bit smaller than the dice sized pieces normally found in Korean potato salad. I like the crunch, but I don’t like large pieces interfering too much with the creaminess of the salad.
- Soak the shallot in water to remove the harsh onion bite.
- Keep the carrots raw, but finely dice them. The sweetness comes through more with raw carrots and I like the nuanced bit of crunch the smaller cut provides.
- Use a good mayo. I like to use Kewpie Japanese mayo as it has more tang and sweetness. Hellmann’s is a good choice too. You can always add some sugar or vinegar later. If you are watching your cholesterol, feel free to use a canola oil based mayo that is cholesterol free.
- Season the water when boiling the potatoes. I like to add an organic bouillon cube (either chicken or vegetable). If you season your boiling water nicely, the better your potatoes will taste.
- Feel free to add apples or raisins, which is also very common. I have opted for corn in my recipe below as summer corn is in season right now and so tasty!
- Ham is also a popular addition.
If you want to make this more Mediterranean style, feel free to use extra virgin olive oil instead of mayo. You won’t need as much, it is healthier too! You can also add a dollop of Dijon mustard to boost the flavor.
- 1kg (2.2lbs) Jersey new potatoes, or russet potatoes
- 3 large eggs
- 2 ears of corn
- 2 medium carrots (about 75g / 2.6 oz each carrot)
- ½ English cucumber or 2 small Kirby or Persian cucumbers
- 1 echelon shallot, or 2 small round shallots, peeled, halved and placed in a bowl of cold water.
- 160g (1 cup) Kewpie mayo or your favorite mayo
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Wash your potatoes well, using a sponge or soft brush to scrub the skins free of any dirt. Remove any eyes and black blemishes, and place the cleaned potatoes in a large pot of cold water. Place the pot on a stove over high heat. Add a generous amount of salt and a bouillon cube of your choice (either chicken or vegetable, optional) to season the water. Bring to a boil and then lower to a high simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft and able to be pierced easily with a fork. Drain in a colander set over a sink and allow to cool slightly.
Clean the pot out and fill with water. Place on the stove over high heat and carefully place in the eggs, and two ears of corn. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Using tongs, remove the corn once cooked, about 3-4 mins, and set aside to cool. Then using a slotted spoon remove the eggs once hard boiled, about 9-10 mins. Discard the hot water into the sink and place the drained slightly cooled potatoes back into the pot.
Run the eggs under cold water and peel the shells off, cut the eggs into dice sized pieces and place into a large bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs of corn, and place into the same large bowl as the eggs.
Peel the carrots and then cut into thin strips or julienne using a sharp knife or a julienne peeler. Then cut the thin strips into small diced sized pieces (brunoise). Place into the large bowl with the eggs. Remove the shallot halves from the bowl of water and finely chop. Place into the same large bowl.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and discard. Cut the cucumber into ¼ inch or ½ cm sized pieces. Place into the same large bowl. Add the mayo to the bowl and mix with the vegetables.
Using a potato masher, crush the potatoes well, breaking them apart fully. Tip the potatoes into the large bowl with the vegetables and mayo. Mix well and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
If you want your salad a bit sweeter add 1 tsp of white sugar, and to add some more tang, add 1 tsp of Korean apple vinegar or rice vinegar. Place in an airtight container and in the fridge to store, it will stay fresh for 2-3 days after making.
Serve this salad with Korean barbecue as a side dish or as a lunch time snack. In Korea you will often see Gamja salad sandwiches also. Just place a scoop in a soft white roll. I prefer a bit of crunch, so I’ll spread mine over toasted sour dough and eat it like an open-faced sandwich. You can also use this salad to make croquettes. Just form into patties, dreg in beaten eggs, coat in panko breadcrumbs and fry. Serve hot with mustard, tonkatsu and/or ketchup on the side to dip!
Explore Seoul’s fun, vibrant and colourful flavours at our Korean-American street-food restaurant: Seoul Bird. Visit and celebrate with us.
SALTED CARAMEL PANCAKES
Judy’s ultimate guide to Korean food. Get started on your journey! Find out the chef’s top kitchen necessities and best places to eat in Seoul.
Cucumber Kimchi (OI KIMCHI)
Shop cookery books and affiliated discounts for Judy’s favourite luxury kitchenware, home accessories and beauty products.