Potato Salad, German Deli Style


Potato Salad, German Deli Style


I prefer potato salad tangy sweet-sour and with little mayonnaise. This contrasts with the glubby, mayonaise-laden, yet somehow bland potato salad I grew up with. When I first tasted the striking potato salad at a German deli in New York, I never turned back. I keep the potato skins on, which the original would generally not, for convenience plus food value. And although I use relatively little mayonnaise, the vinegar makes the salad moist and creamy.


These days, I would keep the parsley as a garnish rather than mix it into the salad because some of my grandkids, as well as other young diners, avoid foods with “green things” in them. But the parsley would typically be mixed into the salad. If desired, coarsely chopped dill pickles can also be mixed into this salad. The potato salad is much better flavored if made ahead of time and refrigerated, a few hours to a few days, before serving.


The recipe serves 6 as a side dish or appetizer.


2 pounds small red- or yellow-skinned potatoes

2 tablespoons minced red onion

4 tablespoons white vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise (“real” mayonnaise works best)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced parsley for mixing in or for garnish


In large, uncovered pan with plenty of unsalted water, bring unpeeled potatoes just to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil them or cover the pan. If water begins boiling, pour in a little cold water to slow it. Swirl the pan occasionally to gently move the potatoes around. After 8-10 minutes, test a potato for doneness by piercing with a toothpick. When tender except for firmness, but no hardness, at the very center, remove from the heat. Drain and cool.


In a large mixing bowl, stir minced onion, vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar, salt and pepper until mayonnaise is thoroughly mixed in. Peel or do not peel potatoes according to your choice. Cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise then cut them across into 1/4-inch slices. Add them to the bowl as they are cut.


Stir the potatoes into the mayonnaise mixture, mixing gently with a large spoon or hands (wear plastic gloves). Let sit for 15 minutes. Mix well again and taste. If necessary, add salt, vinegar and/or sugar. The taste should be slightly salty (the potato will absorb more) and tangy sweet-sour. Refrigerate until used. If combining the parsley into the potatoes rather than garnishing with it when serving, stir it in now.


An hour before serving, stir potato mixture again. Taste and add salt, if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and sprinkle with minced parsley if it was not already mixed in.

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