I call this my pimped out potato salad. You might think it’s weird to use seafood in a potato salad, but growing up in Hawaii it was pretty common to include crab when making potato salad. Sure, it was imitation crab but it added that unique umami flavor to what could be a bland, starchy salad.
Uni, or sea urchin, is all the rage now at restaurants and you can find it pretty regularly at Bay Area specialty stores. (I got mine at Tokyo Fish Market, but they’re also at Berkeley Bowl and any fish market that sells sushi-grade fish.) The added ikura, or salmon roe, give it that pimped out look like little jewels.
Since the uni and ikura are basically raw seafood, this potato salad is best served at a backyard picnic or summer dinner where you can just bring it straight from the refrigerator to the table. Make enough for everyone to get a bite but this isn’t the best for leftovers, again because of the raw seafood.
But if you’re a fan of uni like I am, then this is another way to taste the creamy sea urchin with creamy yukon gold potatoes, with that periodic hit of saltiness from the roe. You’ll never look at potato salad the same way again.
Potato Salad with Uni, Ikura and Shiso
Makes four servings
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes (medium)
5 to 7 pieces of uni or sea urchin
1 T ikura or salmon roe
3 shiso leaves* (chiffonade)
5 T mayonnaise
2 T Ponzu (Japanese citrus vinegar or substitute with white distilled vinegar)
2 T sugar
fresh ground black pepper
Scrub potatoes and place in pot of water. Bring water to boil and then add salt (just like cooking pasta, water should taste like the sea) and reduce heat to low or simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender where you can insert a knife in and out easily without the potato breaking into mush (about 20 to 30 minutes).
In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise with sugar, vinegar and black pepper. Then split into two parts (you’re going to use one part to dress the potatoes warm and the second part for when you’re ready to serve).
The theory: Why split the dressing? Warm potatoes really absorb the flavor of the dressing, which is why it’s recommended to dress it right when it comes out of the pot. But because I’m mixing in the uni in the second half of the dressing, I don’t want to add it to a warm potato salad so the integrity of the sea urchin isn’t affected by the heat. Plus, it’s nice to get that creaminess added to the salad right before serving. If you don’t want to go through all that trouble, then do it just once with the uni mixed in but wait till the potatoes cool.
When the potatoes are done, drain and let cool a bit so you can handle them. Peel away the skin and cut into cubes, then quickly mix with the mayonnaise mixture. Then refrigerate until ready to eat.
Optional: I like when potato salads bind together. When you remove the potatoes from the pot of water, keep one to cook another 15 minutes. With that potato, remove the skin and then mash it in a bowl with two or three pieces of uni, and add this mash to the second part of mayonnaise.
Right before serving, bring out the potato salad and toss in the second part of mayonnaise with the mashed uni. Add the remaining whole pieces of uni, ikura, and shiso leaves and toss lightly without breaking up the potatoes. Serve immediately.
* If you can’t find shiso leaves, substitute with a tablespoon of chopped chives or green onion.
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