This recipe was inspired by a visit to Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian's American History Museum. Just outside the exhibit, a TV runs an infinite loop of Julia's old cooking show. When I heard her describe her method of making mashed potatoes with 2 whole heads of garlic, I swooned. The garlic sweetens as it cooks. I gave the flavor profile an Asian twist by adding wasabi and sesame oil.
Because I was making this with a broad audience in mind, the recipe calls for just enough wasabi to add flavor without heat. You may want to add more. As Julia says, you may be tempted to use less garlic, but you will regret it. —[email protected]
medium Yukon Gold potatoes (approx. 2 1/2 cups), peeled and quartered
salt, plus a generous pinch for the potato water
freshly ground white pepper
wasabi powder (or more to taste), mixed with an equal amount of water
Bring a small pot of water to boil. Separate the garlic into individual cloves and drop them with their skins still on into the boiling water. Boil them for 2 minutes, drain them, and peel the skins off.
Dry out the pot with a paper towel and return it to the heat. Add the sesame oil and the garlic cloves. Cover the pot and cook the garlic over very low heat until it is very soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes with a pinch of salt until they are soft, about 20 minutes. Drain the water. Put the potatoes through a ricer or a food mill.
Pour the softened garlic with the oil through the ricer or food mill, too. Scrape out any garlic left in the bottom of the food mill or ricer and add it to the mix. The garlic will be so mild that even if there are a few chunks, it will not be overpowering.
Add the salt, pepper, and wasabi mixture and stir. Taste and add more seasoning or wasabi to suit your taste. If necessary, return the mixture to the pot and heat over a low flame. Serve hot.