This soft, creamy, and crunchy Korean potato salad is easy to make with a few easily found ingredients. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
This creamy, mayonnaise-based potato salad (gamja salad, 감자 샐러드) is the potato salad I grew up on! You’ve probably had a similar type of potato salad from an array of side dishes at Korean restaurants. This recipe is my mom’s potato salad with my little tweaks.
While there are many variations of potato salad, the classic version, also referred to as yetnal (옛날, old-style) gamja salad, is made with mashed boiled potatoes, hard boiled eggs, crunchy vegetables such as cucumber and carrot, and sometimes fresh and/or dried fruits such as apple and raisins.
The consistency of the potato is soft and smooth, and the salad gets nice textural contrasts from the other vegetables. My mom’s potato salad wasn’t overloaded with lots of other ingredients. She would use a small amount of each ingredient and cut everything small and thin to go well with the soft mashed potatoes.
This type of potato salad is usually served as a side dish. Placed on a soft roll or between slices of bread, it’s also enjoyed as a sandwich. I love having the leftovers as a breakfast sandwich. When I make potato salad solely for sandwiches, however, I add a lot more crunchy vegetables, including sliced green cabbage and onions. It’s a slightly different recipe, which I hope to share soon.
Korean potato salad is very easy to make, and this recipe is highly flexible. Feel free to use more or less of the ingredients than what’s in the recipe or add additional ingredients. Simply adjust the amounts of the seasoning ingredients to taste.
Korean potato salad ingredients
- Potatoes: Russet (aka baking) potatoes are great for this type of potato salad. The starchy potatoes give a nicely soft texture. I also like Yukon gold potatoes which have a buttery flavor and creamy texture.
- Hard-boiled eggs: The eggs are classic for this salad but you can omit it if preferred.
- Cucumber: This adds a nice crunch, color and fresh taste to the salad.
- Carrot: This also adds a nice crunch, color and fresh taste to the salad.
- Mayonnaise: Use your favorite mayonnaise. The sweetness and acidity of the mayonnaise widely vary depending on the brand. This is fine because you can adjust it to your taste by adding sugar and/or vinegar/lemon juice.
- Optional filling ingredients: Other common ingredients include apple (thin, small slices), raisins (or dry cranberries), and onion (finely chopped). Some people also use ham (finely chopped), corn, etc.
- Optional flavoring ingredients: Although not classic for this type of Korean potato salad, you can use sour cream or plain yogurt to swap out some of the mayonnaise if you like. A little bit of mustard or dijon mustard will be good too.
How to make Korean potato salad
Peel and cut the potatoes into about 1.5-inch pieces. Try to cut them into the same size for even cooking. Drain and mash them until smooth. I like to leave some chunks for a mix of texture.
Place the egg(s) in a small sauce pot with cold water covering the egg(s). Bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off, cover, and let the eggs cook in hot water for 12 – 13 minutes. Once cooked, remove the eggs and place them in cold water to cool for about 10 minutes before peeling. Gently tap the egg on the countertop to crack all sides. Try to get underneath the film/membrane and start peeling. It’s easier if you peel them in water or under running water.
Cut the cucumber and carrot in half lengthwise and thinly slice. Lightly sprinkle the cucumber with salt and set aside for a few minutes to remove moisture. No salt is necessary as the carrot doesn’t contain as much moisture as the cucumber.
Roughly chop the egg(s), leaving the yolk if using it for optional garnish.
Combine everything, except the egg, and mix with the seasoning ingredients. Taste and add more mayonnaise, salt, and/or sugar to taste. I add the egg at the end not to break up too much.
You can serve this potato salad at room temperature or chilled. It can keep well in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 – 4 days.
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Korean Potato Salad
Other optional ingredients (see note)
Peel and cut the potatoes into similar size chunks (1 to 1.5-inch pieces).
Place the potatoes in a medium size pot, and cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and continue to boil the potatoes until easily pierced with a fork or a chopstick.
Drain and mash the potatoes in a mixing bowl with a fork until smooth. Leave some small chunks if you like. Set it aside.
Place the egg(s) in a small sauce pot with cold water covering the egg(s). Bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off, cover, and let the eggs cook in hot water for 12 – 13 minutes. Remove the eggs and place them in cold water for about 10 minutes before peeling.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and thinly slice. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Set it aside while preparing the other ingredients, and then tightly squeeze to remove moisture.
Cut the carrot in half lengthwise and thinly slice. No salt is necessary as the carrot doesn’t contain as much moisture as the cucumber.
Roughly chop the egg(s), leaving the yolk if using it for optional garnish. See optional garnish below.
Add the cucumber, carrot, mayonnaise (start with 5 tablespoons), salt (start with 1 teaspoon), optional sugar, and lemon juice (or vinegar) to the bowl with the mashed potatoes. Mix everything well. Taste and add more mayonnaise, salt, and/or sugar to taste.
Throw in the chopped egg and toss gently to evenly distribute the egg pieces.
Optional egg yolk garnish
Optional flavoring ingredients: Although not classic for this type of Korean potato salad, you can use sour cream or plain yogurt to swap out some of the mayonnaise if you like. A little bit of mustard or dijon mustard will be good too.