Kamja bokkeum (감자볶음) is a very simple side dish that’s real easy to make and goes really well with other spicy Korean foods. It also is a great side dish for Korean lunch boxes (도시락반찬 doshirak banchan). In fact it was my ultimate favorite side dish to have in my doshirak(lunchbox) when I was growing up. Rice, roasted seaweed, spam or sausage, picked cucumbers(오이지 oeeji) and this potato dish really made my lunch time the happiest time of the day.
- 2 – 3 potatoes (white or russet or any other)
- 2-3 T canola or olive oil
- 1 tsp – 1 1/2 tsp of salt
- black pepper
- 1 T or more Mayonnaise
1. Choose good quality potatoes that are firm and smooth. Less starchy potatoes like white potatoes work well and is also easier because you don’t have to peel the skin. If you are using russet potatoes, you definitely need to peel the skin first. Wash the potatoes and julienne them. Best is to cut a bit thinner than the thickness of shoe string fries but it’s OK if it’s a little bit thicker – it will just take longer to cook.
2. Soak the cut potatoes in cold water for few minutes to let the starch seep out. If you skip this step, the potato pieces will start to stick to each other (kind of like hash browns) when you saute them. Not the end of the world if they bunch up but..
3. Drain the potatoes. Get a paper towel and just randomly grab few potato pieces at a time with the towel to soak up any extra water. The less water there is, the less splatter you will get when the potato goes into the pan so just think about that!
4. Heat 2-3 T of oil (depending on how much potato you have) in a frying pan on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until the oil gets heated (watery consistency). Start with 2 T and you can always add a little more if the potatoes look too dry. Once the oil is heated, add the potatoes to the pan. Stir the potatoes to make sure all the pieces are evenly coated with oil.
5. Lower the heat to medium. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Best strategy is to sprinkle about 1 tsp first, mix it in and saute for 7 minutes or so until the potatoes are fully cooked and tender. Taste the potatoes as soon as they become edible and add more salt if necessary. It should taste well seasoned but not at all salty because you will be eating them with mayonnaise. It is OK if some pieces get browned but you need to make sure they are all evenly cooked so stir them frequently.
6. There! it’s done! Plate the potatoes and add a dollop of mayonnaise on top or on the side. Mix it up when you eat or just dip the potatoes in mayo every time you eat. It really is the simplest thing to make but it adds so much more to a dinner table. Best accompaniment to spicy jjigaes including kimchi jjigae, spicy jorims, janjorims, meat dishes and grilled fish.