Sunday, October 25, 2009

Korean Style Roasted Potatoes: Adventures in traveling

To MSL, CSP, my brothers and the crazy parents who decided that we could do this.

When I was 12 years old, my parents and another family's parents decided that five children, age range from 5 to just turned 13, could handle an international trip to Korea, alone. In fact, the four parents decided to take off to China for 2 weeks, the same day as us, but on an earlier flight, leaving the 5 of us alone in the LAX airport to go to Korea. My friend MSL, being unusually tall and being the oldest was in charge and I was her deputy chief of staff. The three younger kids were to obey us and we got on our plane to Korea. Everything went smoothly on flight and upon landing we managed to grab our huge bags from the baggage claim area. The only minor problem was trying to explain to customs why one of our bags had 25 lbs of frozen meat in it, but even that wasn't so horrible.

We walked out into the airport waiting area and there waiting for my brothers and me were aunts and uncles lined up two deep. It was a big deal for us to travel so far (and alone!), and my family came out in full force to grab us and take care of us. We were going to my aunt's house with my paternal grandmother but even so, my mother's side of the family had all come out just to catch a glimpse of us and see the relatives who were from so far away.

We spent a lot of that summer just having fun with our extended family. It was dinners at this restaurant with this family, a week in a beautiful house with another family, trips all over Korea and just lots of fun eating and playing. But even with all the food there is only one dish that sticks out in my memory even to this day, and it was a the simplest of potato dishes prepared for me by my paternal grandmother. It was a sweltering hot day and electricity was a precious commodity, but even then, the "spoiled" kids from America were sitting in front of an air conditioning unit. My grandmother came out with this plate of potatoes and a small bowl of salt. She proceeded to break off small pieces, blow on them, dip them in the salt and feed us by hand. The potatoes were crispy, delicious and the simple crunch of salt just made them incredibly addictive. My brothers and I began shoving each other out of the way to get the precious little bites our grandmother was feeding us.

This is not a spectacular dish - it is not fine dining but it is good. It requires three ingredients, four if you count boiling water, and is very simple technique. But let me say this - Son and Daughter #2 generally do not like potatoes, but when I make them like this, they often eat four or five.

Korean Roasted Potatoes

1 -2 lbs red rose potatoes, small ones - no bigger than a golf ball.
3 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil (I use safflower)
sea salt for sprinkling or dipping

Wash and rinse your potatoes. Fill a large pot with water and add potatoes. Cook until tender about 20 minutes. (Poke a fork in and make sure your potato is cooked all the way through.) Drain.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. This part is the most time consuming, but you'll get the hang of it.

In a fry pan over medium heat, add oil and the peeled potatoes. Cook until golden on one side and then shake the fry pan to get them golden on other sides. Total cooking time is around 6 minutes.
Place into a bowl and sprinkle with some sea salt.
Printable recipes

14 comments:

angie s said...

ah...i was craving this during my last pregnancy but couldn't figure out exactly how the potatoes were cooked! just a vague memory of it from korea when we went hiking up a mountain! i'm going to try as soon as i get back home!

Amanda said...

Yum, simple but delicious! I make a potato dish similar to this, but hadn't thought to use the sea salt :)

kim said...

These are fabulous! Both daughters LOVED them, and like yours, they are usually not baked potato fans. Hubby and I are still munching away on the leftovers... yum!

Amelia PS said...

i love how simple this recipe is, yet how unique the final result turns into! Now I know how I'll prepare those fingerling potatoes I just bought.

Patrick Belardo said...

Do you have a recipe for the slightly sweet potatoes served as banchan at many Korean restaurants?

dawn said...

These are my daughter's favourite snack from Korean rest stops. I swear she eats 5 pounds of potatoes every time we go on a road trip.

Joanne Choi said...

funny how a simple potato dish garners so many comments. Patrick - there are a few potato dishes - so help me narrow it down...I assume you're not talking about the mayo potato salad. I thought possibly you were talking about the stewed soy sugar potatoes - which are relatively easy to make or the potato hash - which is something different. I'll need a bit more description.

caroline k said...

i loved reading about this because i remember fondly that my grandmother made this for me and my brother and also fed it to us even though we were old enough to just eat it ourselves.... makes me miss halmoni and her cooking even more!

angie s said...

tired this one today and was very yummy. simple but really hit the spot

Ji-Hyung said...

I love your story to go along with the recipe... reminds me of my own childhood and memories. Thanks for sharing both story and recipe...

선미 (Sunmi) said...

Mm, I love going back to Korea to spend time with my extended family, too! Being the "cousins/조카/grandkids in America" means that my brother and I get to eat a lot of really great food during the whole visit. :) Now it's my turn to cook for my relatives when they visit me here!

Just curious, why did you have 25 lbs. of frozen meat in one of your bags?

amy said...

i HAD to read this post (once i saw the "dedication") not only for the recipe, but also for the anecdote--i am pleasantly surprised that this was not one of C's "eventful" (unpleasant) flights to korea! as for the meat...only an insider can truly understand, no? will definitely try the recipe soon!

Sooae said...

YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Thank you yet again for another amazing item I"m going to def try this week!

julia said...

love the recipes, but i also get a giggle out of the stories...it's funny how only the first generation parents were crazy in that way--simply assuming that kids can handle themselves. but we all turned out fine, don't you think?!

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