Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Taste of Home: Kartoffelsalat (German Potato Salad)

There is nothing quite like discovering - at 12:45 am - that you forgot to make the potato salad you need for a pot-luck right after work the next day today. Did I mention that said my potato salad needs an overnight stay in the fridge for optimal flavor development? Oh well, sleep is overrated anyway.

While I am making potato salad, I might as well be blogging about it....

I started out by putting some whole potatoes (peel on) in the pressure cooker.  I don't normally boil them in the pressure cooker, but time is of the essence - and I'd really like to go to bed at some point tonight this morning.

While the potatoes are cooking, I started to make some bouillon.

Psst... that's the secret ingredient in German Potato salad - and, as it turns out, the selection of the bouillon is not trivial.

But maybe I should share the recipe with you first. It's a recipe from my Dr. Oetker Kochbuch, but I am only using it as a first approximation.  Note that the recipe calls for salad potatoes.  I use whatever I have in the kitchen, but I believe that my mother prefers Yukon Gold for potato salad.

Once the potatoes are cooked, they need to be peeled and sliced.  The hotter the potatoes are, the easier it is to peel them.  The colder the potatoes are, the less likely they are falling apart.  It's up to you to err in one direction or another.

While the potatoes are cooling a bit, let me tell you about the bouillon issue.

Beef bouillon is actually something I used to import from Germany.  I will use any German brand of "Klare Fleischsuppe" (=bouillon), because they all work fine.  I have seen other bloggers suggest the use of US vegetable bouillon, which is probably not a bad idea.

I would advice against using US produced beef bouillon.  For some reason, the manufacturers of US beef bouillon are under the impression that beef bouillon has to be brown.  This is even true for the US version of Knorr or Maggi brand. (The German version is essentially clear.)  As a result, if you use US beef bouillon, your potato salad will have a reddish brown color - and that's just not a good look for potato salad.

Next, I cut up an onion.  When I make this salad for my children, I leave out the onions, because they don't like them.  I like onions, but sometimes they don't share that sentiment and they give me a headache.  One of the tricks I learned from my mother was to salt the cut up onions and actually store them as salted onions in the fridge.  The salt takes away some of the onion's bite and brings out more of the sweetness.  If you don't like raw onions, you may want to try to salt them before you put them on a salad, for example.

Once the potatoes are cooled enough to handle them, I peel and slice them.  Then I pour the hot bouillon over them and let them sit in the bouillon for 30 min or so, gently turning them once to make sure that every potato comes in contact with the bouillon.

In the meantime, I make up an oil and vinegar dressing - 1 part oil to 1 part vinegar.

After 30 minutes or so (longer, if I have more time), I gently remove the bouillon that has not soaked into the potatoes.  (Don't throw this out. Keep it in the fridge until the next day.  You may need to add it once the potatoes have soaked up all the flavor overnight.)

Now I add the oil and vinegar dressing as well as onions and salt to taste.  Be gentle with the potatoes at this point. They are still hot and can easily turn into a mushy mess.

Finally, the only thing we need is time.  Put the salad into a container with a lid and store it in the fridge over night.

In the morning in a few hours, I'll add some more bouillon, salt, vinegar or onions, if needed.  By tomorrow night tonight, this salad should be just fine.  

Update June 2014:
An updated version of this recipe is available here:


  1. Sieht lecker aus, ist aber total anders, als ich es kenne!
    Liebe Grüße

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.