The Side(s) Show: Potato

Sides can be the main attraction, too!

One potato...

Ex-spud-ite  it!

Even if you had just kimchi to go with your rice, you’d be awright.

But expanding your sides option for a 30 Korean Dinners challenge is important.  Along with your indispensable kimchi, you can serve a multitude of veggie, starchy, and/or fishy sides.  I am especially fond of the soy sauce-braised family of sides, as they are easy to prepare and I grew up on them.  You could probably braise an old leather shoe, serve it up with rice, and everyone would rave at how delicious it is!  But we’ll just stick with potato for this post.

1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato...

1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato…

Hey, did you know that wild potatoes are full of the toxins solanine and tomatine?  Wild llamas know to lick clay before eating these potatoes so the poisons will be absorbed by the clay particles and pass through their digestive tract without incident.  And apparently when people buy these poisonous varietals, that’s by choice, they also purchase clay dust to eat along with.  Now that’s potato devotion.

But don’t worry, the ones you buy from your local supermarket and greenmarket have been bred to be non-toxic so go ahead and put down that clay…

Four easy pieces

Four easy pieces

The only real danger you’ll face with potatoes is how addictive they are, especially in french fry form.  Or this very simple recipe that calls for simmering potato chunks in a soy sauce marinade.

Let it all soak in

Let it all soak in

I fried my potato chunks in a little beef fat before I simmered them, but that’s because I wanted to use up some left over from a short-rib dinner I’d made the night before.

Gettin' soy sassy!

Gettin’ soy sassy with it!

But in its heart of hearts, this is a vegetarian- and vegan-friendly dish, so you are free to keep it that way for you and your veggie friends.

The money shot

The money shot

Braised potato (감자조림)

The ingredients

2 potatoes

4 tbls soy sauce

3 tbls honey or sugar (or a combo)

1 tbls wine or rice wine vinegar

1-2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/2 cup water

black pepper

sesame oil

sesame seeds

The steps

1. Peel potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes and soak for 20 minutes in salted water (2 tsp salt:1 cup water).

2. Make the braising liquid by combining soy sauce, sugar/honey, wine, water and garlic.  In a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil.

3. Add potatoes and let cook.  Do not stir, but shake your pan gently every so often.  Simmer down until liquid is boiled down and potatoes are done, about 20 minutes.  Pierce a potato with a fork or chopstick to make sure it’s done.

4. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with black pepper and sesame seeds before serving.

Note:  I fried my potatoes in a bit of beef fat before cooking in the liquid, but this is very optional.

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