German-Japanese-African octopus salad

One of my coworkers grows potatoes in his garden just outside of Tokyo. Last week, he brought in part of a bumper crop to share. By coincidence, Tamako Sakamoto’s “Taste of Home” cooking column in Friday’s Daily Yomiuri ran an intriguing recipe for a German potato salad with an extra ingredient: octopus.

And that set my plans for the weekend.

Most items in Japanese grocery stores are clearly marked to show their place of origin, and the octopus that was destined for my potato salad came from Mauritania. You couldn’t ask for a more international dish: home-grown Japanese potatoes and octopus from the Atlantic coast of Africa in a German-derived recipe. And in this case, cooked by an American.

Moreover, the results were delicious. The potatoes, onions, bacon, vinegar and whole-grain mustard went together as well as you’d expect, with the octopus adding some chewy protein and a sprinkling of fresh dill jazzing up the taste and aroma of it all.

9789814516112_200_cook-japanese-with-tamako_haftadUpdate

(December 2013) This post originally included a link to the recipe on The Daily Yomiuri website. That page is no longer online — and The Daily Yomiuri is now The Japan News — but you can find many of Sakamoto-san’s recipes in her new cookbook, “Cook Japanese with Tamako.” This octopus salad is not in the book, but there are 13 recipes under the heading of “Fish and Seafood,” plus 16 under “Vegetables and Salads.” Find it on amazon here.

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