How to Make Restaurant-Style Potato Salad

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Have you tried recreating a restaurant-style potato salad but ended up not enjoying what you made? It seems impossible to mess up a simple dish, yet some home cooks still stumble along the way. Not anymore!

Creamy salads generally follow a straightforward recipe with very minimal cooking required. Want to give it a second try? First, go back to the basics to keep mishaps at bay. And then, you can dress up your creation with as many trimmings as your heart desires. Follow this guide to get started.

Picking the Potatoes

Three different types of potatoes on a wooden table

Did you know that only a few potato varieties exist in the Philippines? The two most commonly grown here are the Igorota and the Granola. Both are all-purpose and have average starch and moisture content. These qualities ensure a well-balanced texture, making them a reliable choice for any potato salad recipe.

Since there are few options, people typically choose based on size: baby, regular, or jumbo. But next time you shop for tubers, also consider the following:

  • Choose potatoes that feel heavy but firm when lightly pressed.
  • Select those with clean skin and few eyes.
  • Avoid tubers with cracks, cuts, soft spots, or sprouts.

How to cook potatoes for a salad?

All-purpose potatoes can hold their shape when fried, baked, or boiled. Thus, it shouldn’t matter if you cook them whole or cut them beforehand; they’ll still maintain their form. Follow this four-step method to cook them for your salad. 

  1. Place whole potatoes in a pot filled with cold water. Add a pinch of salt. 
  2. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cook spuds until tender but still firm, about 30-45 minutes, depending on the size. Use a fork or knife to check their doneness. 
  3. Drain the potatoes, then peel off their skin with a paring knife while still hot. Cooled spuds are more challenging to separate from their skins.
  4. After peeling, cut them into cubes or mash them to your desired consistency (like in a Japanese-style salad). Set aside until ready to use. 

Preparing the Dressing

A saucer of mayonnaise with fresh ingredients in the background

Making the dressing for your salad requires little effort. But first, you need to choose the style you prefer. The classic American version only needs regular mayonnaise seasoned with salt and pepper. If you want to go Asian, add a sweetener to the mix. Meanwhile, you can prepare a German-style salad in two ways. The first is with mustard, while the second calls for a room-temperature vinaigrette. 

Classic Pinoy potato salad dressing

If you want to stay closer to home, this dressing is for you. It’s creamy and sweet with just a hint of tang and spice.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise
  • 1 pc small red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped pickles
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Now that your potatoes and dressing are out of the way, it’s time for assembly. 

How to Make Potato Salad Like a Pro

A bowl of boiled potatoes seasoned with dill, peppercorns, and salt flakes

Ready to build your salad? Gather these ingredients and enjoy the dish in no time!

Ingredients:

  • boiled potatoes, cubed
  • prepared dressing
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • shredded chicken or other protein
  • chopped carrots, celery, or other vegetables
  • chopped chives or other herbs

Method:

  1. Combine cooled potatoes and prepared dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Mix gently.
  2. Add protein, vegetables, and herbs. Toss to combine. 
  3. Refrigerate salad until ready to serve. 
  4. Once ready, transfer salad to a serving dish and garnish with herbs.

Restaurant-style potato salad variations

A plate of marble potato salad beside saucers of herbs and spices

Make your salad stand out by culling inspiration from restaurant versions. Here are a few secret ingredients to zhuzh up a basic potato salad recipe. 

  • Half-and-half: Add creaminess to your salad by adding one part cream and one part milk. Try mixing in yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream, too!
  • Gulaman cubes: Many local restaurants garnish the salad with lightly sweetened red gulaman. Follow suit and add a bit of fruity sweetness to your version. 
  • Bacon bits: Say yes to extra crunch and saltiness! Mix it in your dressing and sprinkle some on top. 
  • Anchovies and capers: Are you looking to up the umami of this dish? A quick trick is to include salty elements like anchovies and capers. But do so with care; it’s easier to add more later than fix an overly salty salad.
  • Vegetables and fruits: Green peas, sweet corn kernels, carrots, celery, apples, pineapples, and grapes are some fresh options you can mix in. They bring color and heft to this beloved side.
  • Cheese: Cheddar, sharp, and cream cheese can add oomph to a starchy salad instantly. 
  • Oil-based dressing: Instead of mayonnaise, try tossing your salad in a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and honey. Perfect for hot summer days!

With this guide, you can say goodbye to overcooked spuds, under-seasoned dressings, and boring mix-ins. Save this cheat sheet and be on your way to making potato salads better than any restaurant. Enjoy!

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