14.190 Gamja Project (10) Patatas Bravas

Cycle 14 – Item 190

14 (Fri) July 2023

Patatas Bravas


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with W and IZ

The Gamja Project (10)

In this series, I cook potato dishes using freshly harvest gamja gifted to us from a neighboring farmer at the cabin (for more background and related posts, see THE GAMJA PROJECT).

Based on Korean standards, the amounts stated in the recipes (e.g., “1 onion, finely chopped”) didn’t seem to jibe with visuals in the photo – a Spanish onion must be really small.


I’d made patatas bravas previously (see 6.005 Patatas Bravas with Bacalao), but – without bothering to check that prior post before getting started this time – I had forgotten that I’d followed the same crappy recipe in the cookbook Tapas Step-by-Step (see most recently 14.182 Spanish Tortilla).  So, in failing to study GMTD history, I was doomed to repeat it.

We ate about a third for dinner in the sauce, and snacked on the rest throughout the evening as is, not even salt.

Hit and miss.  Confirming my first impression 8.5 years ago, the sauce was disappointing: cooking for only 15 minutes, the tomatoes tasted underdeveloped.  But the potatoes were perfectly cooked this time, crispy on the outside, fluffy within – and the skins provided additional flavor and texture.

Served with Spicy Chicken Sausages from What’s Pide (see most recently 14.172 Spicy Chicken Dogs), the meal tasted Spanish overall, especially with a bottle of cava.  

2.7 kg of potatoes remaining.

Korean-Swedish Culinary Exchange (26)

In this series, Number One Swedish Fan GK and I collaborate to cook dishes in our respective kitchens on a specific theme – most commonly, I make something Swedish, while he makes something Korean –  then share photos and comments (for more background and related posts, see KSCX). 


[The italicized comments below are GK’s own words, with minor typographical edits from me.]

I’m reporting back from my attempt to try to make, for the first time, one of my favorite Spanish dishes, which happens to be (at least partly) potato based: “Ensaladilla Rusa” (Russian potato salad), a tapa you can find at almost every bar in Spain.  I followed this recipe.

I did some variations from the recipe though.  The recipe called for the potatoes and carrots first to be boiled, then peeled and cut into cubes.  Considering it would be much quicker and save energy, I started with peeling, then cutting, then cooking.  I also cooked frozen green beans and peas.

I tried making mayonnaise from scratch according to the recipe, but I unfortunately failed.  I should add that I’ve had the experience several times to fail when trying to make mayonnaise/aioli from scratch due to the ingredients not being of the same temperature (the eggs just being taken from the fridge and thus not achieving an emulsion, no matter how hard I whisk them). I did another try after letting the egg stand on the counter for a couple of hours, but still, failure again.  

For the purpose of this dish, I just went and bought some ready-made mayo from the store. Unfortunately, because of that, I didn’t get to see the difference between “normal” mayo and “clarified mayo” (mayo with egg whites mixed in).  The recipe called for mixing most of the ingredients with the “clarified” mayo, then mix each of the ingredients separately with the “normal” mayo and put them on top.

Was it worth the effort?  I’m kinda torn.  It was okay, but the recipe was a bit too big (I should have realized that before starting cooking though).  It was kinda similar to the Ensaladilla Rusa I’ve tried in Spain, but still, not as good.  I kinda messed up on the size of the potatoes and carrots (should have been smaller). And I of course also messed up on the mayo.

In the end, it wasn’t all a failure.  I got to try to make a new Spanish tapa.  And I got inspired to try to get better at making mayo, although that may not be too good for my efforts to try to watch my weight.


On my effort:

    • I am very disappointed at myself for making the same mediocre recipe twice, even though the first time had been clearly documented on GMTD.  As such, I am determined to redeem myself by making a proper rendition of this dish in the near future.
    • Aside from the sauce, I was happy to learn that I could simply deep-fry potato cubes and serve them as a snack.

On GK’s effort:

    • Interesting that our respective choices of Spanish potato dishes would be so diametrically different.
    • This might be the most beautiful dish that GK has offered in the series, at least in recent memory.
    • But the amounts of egg and shrimp appear insufficient compared to the rest of the ingredients.
    • In my experiences at Spanish restaurants – albeit, primarily in Manila, though also Spain itself – I don’t recall ever seeing the dish on any menu – not that I’m disputing GK’s claim of its ubiquity.
    • A curious choice to make a Spanish dish that Spaniards themselves, presumably, based on the name, consider to be non-Spanish in origin.
    • If the mayo swapped out with sour cream, this could also seem Swedish.
    • I’ve made something similar, which I attributed to Japanese (see 4.224 Salada), though at the time I hadn’t considered whether the Russian dish might be the original source.
    • On my one and only trip to Russia, I observed that the food felt immediately familiar to mainstream American fare (e.g., potato salad), which had been brought over by immigrants from northern Europe, including possibly Russians.
    • IZ has a Vostok watch, a Russian brand, though he refuses to wear it these days because of the war – just saying.


GK has already provided photos and comments for another Spanish potato dish, which I’ll pair at random with my next potato dish (not Spanish).


One thought on “14.190 Gamja Project (10) Patatas Bravas

  1. Good post!
    Some comments:

    1. I had actualy thought/planned to make patatas bravas first, but decided not to because I find the dish kinda boring and I haven’t tried it that much.
    2. Thank you first the kind comment about the appearance of the dish! But yes, there should definitively have been more eggs and shrimp to top off this dish…
    3. About it’s “non-Spanish origins”, I just presumed that although it might have foreign roots, it was in any case thoroughly “Spanifed”. Looking at Wikipedia though for the dish “Olivier sallad” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_salad) , I find this: “Ensaladilla rusa (“Russian little salad”) is widely consumed in Spain and it is served as a tapa in many bars. It typically consists of minced boiled potato, minced boiled carrots, canned tuna, minced boiled eggs, peas, and mayonnaise”. So it seems I didn’t add the one ingredient (tuna) that sets the Spanish version apart.

    I also find this:
    “Japanese potato salad (potesara, ポテサラ), is often said to be a yoshoku version of the Olivier salad, differing in a semi-mashed consistency of the potato, chopped ham as a main meat ingredient (instead of traditional poultry) and a liberal use of rice vinegar and karashi mustard in its dressing.”, so maybe this is what you made?

    4. I also found this “interesting” info on the page where I found the recipe for the dish:

    “Despite the Russian name, ensaladilla Rusa has become as Spanish as you can get, and is an important dish in Spain’s culinary history. In fact, towards the end of the Spanish Civil War merely speaking of Russia was forbidden, and people renamed the popular dish Ensaladilla Nacional, the national salad!”

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