If you are wanting something really nice for a picnic or just to eat at home, salata de beouf will fit the bill marvelously! It is so delicious that when my kids were growing up, my oldest daughter and I used to make it up and just leave it in the fridge to eat whenever we got hungry. The Romanians taught me to make it, but they say it is originally from France, and “beouf” is a French word meaning “beef” in English. It is a kind of potato salad, but it is much tastier than the regular potato salad we eat in the States. I made it today for my family because everyone is on vacation, and it makes it so they can sleep, play, and eat whenever they want. Here is how you make it:
To begin with the ingredients are pretty simple. Romanians were under Communism for many years, and they couldn’t find things in the store, but they could either grow these things in their garden or in their barn and make the mayonnaise themselves. I can make mayonnaise too, but I don’t need to anymore because Korea is a country where you can find mayonnaise in the stores, and today, you can find it in the store in Romania since things are changing fast in Romanian now a days since Communism is gone.
As for the vegetables, you will need potatoes, carrots, and a choice of these three: cucumbers, peas, or pickles. I was told they just look for something green to use. Here in Korea, I can find peas, but I have to go out of my way to find them and they they aren’t my favorite, so I don’t use them. My Korean son in law has trouble with anything sour, so I don’t use pickles unless I happen to find sweet pickles, but I didn’t this time. I chose to use cucumbers because we can all agree on cucumbers.
As for the meat, it is called salata de beouf, and, yes, beouf means beef, but some Romanians have told me they don’t always use beef. One lady told me she uses whatever is available to her at the time. This means she may use small pieces of chicken or pork instead of beef. Use whatever kind of meat you happen to have.
The basic for this salad is the potatoes. They call it salata de beouf, but it is a potato salad, so let’s begin with the potatoes. If I were making this the American way, I would begin by peeling and cutting the potatoes up, but I am making it the Romanian way, so I wash the potatoes, cover them with water, put them in a pot, put a lid on the pot, and put them on to boil until them become soft.
Next, I take my pieces of beef that I bought already cut to small pieces. Your meat should be cut to small pieces, and I have found that when the beef is cut up to use in stew, it is just the right size. If I were Romanian, I wouldn’t brown the beef, but just cover it with water and boil it. However, even though I am doing this the Romanian way, I am still American, and can’t get past browning the beef before I boil it, so I brown it by putting a little oil in my pan and cooking it on all sides first before I cover it with water and set it to boil. I cover it with a lid so the water won’t completely cook out before it is done.
Next, I do the same with the carrots that I did with the potatoes. I don’t peel them or cut them up, but just wash them and put them in a pan to boil. I actually had to cut my carrots in half because they were too long for my pan. I cover the carrots in water, turn the fire on, cover the pan, and leave it to boil. When the water in each pan begins to boil, I turn the fire down because I don’t want any of it to boil over.
At this point, I can take a break if I want while I wait on everything to cook. When the potatoes and carrots are soft, the beef is done too. You know if they are done if you stick a fork in them and it goes in easily. Turn the fire off under all three pans when the potatoes and carrots are soft.
The potato peels will just slip off into your hands.
Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces, then transfer them to a big bowl.
Pour the water out of the potatoes and put the pan of potatoes in the sink. Run cold water over the potatoes to cool them off. Get out your cutting board. As the potatoes cool, take them out one by one and just peel them with your hands. The skins slip off easily. Be careful and don’t pull them out too quickly because you don’t want to burn your hands.
After all the potatoes are peeled, use a table knife and begin cutting them into small bite sized pieces. Cut them all completely up, and then transfer them to a big bowl.
Next, pour the water out of the carrots and run cold water over them. You will now want to peel the carrots, or some people may want to skip the peeling and use them like the are, but always peel mine. I cut the ends off and peel them with the butter knife. The outsides of the carrots don’t come off as easily as the potatoes, but easier than if they were raw.
Peel the carrots with a table knife.
When the carrots are completely peeled, I begin cutting some of them lengthwise, and then set some of them aside. After that, I cut the rest of them into small bite sized pieces. I leave the lengthwise pieces alone, but add the bite sized pieces to the potatoes.
Next, I take out a big long cucumber. If you are using the shorter cucumbers, you will want to use more than one. I wash the cucumber and peel it. I don’t cut all the peelings off, but just some because I have always heard that it is better for your stomach to leave some of the peels. Cucumbers can be strong in your stomach and make you burp a lot, but peeling them like this helps.
After I peel the cucumber, I cut part of it into long thin pieces like the carrots. Next, I cut the rest of the cucumber into bite sized pieces like the potatoes and carrots. I add the bite sized pieces to the potatoes and carrots, then I get out the mayonnaise.
I add the pieces of beef to the salad too. The Romanians are very generous with the mayonnaise. After you have dolloped some on, mix it up. If it doesn’t seem to be covering everything, add some more. Make sure everything is covered in mayonnaise.
At this point, you use the extra carrot and cucumber slices. Decorate your salad. I put them around the outside rim and fan them out from the middle. When I am done, I decide to put a bit of maynaise in the middle to further the decoration. I have a Romanian friend who is an extremely good cook called Elena Frecea. She used to make this salad a lot, and she didn’t leave hers in the bowl. She shaped it and put it on a plate. After that, she used mayonaise, carrots, and cucumbers and decorated it so pretty it looked like a cake. Do whatever you can to make it look appetizing. If it looks good, people are more likely to want to eat it. I always remember the Japanese telling me to use as many colors as possible because it will taste better. When I worked as a professional cook, they used to tell me to decorate everything because people would be more likely to eat something pretty. I decorated so much that people took pictures of things I made and the head chef was upset they took pictures because he thought they were stealing my ideas. Regardless, if you make it pretty, people are drawn to it.
After I decorate it, I cover it and put it in the fridge to let it get cold. When my family gets hungry, they don’t have to wait. They have a complete meal waiting for them in one dish: meat, potatoes, carrots, and cucumbers. This is a delicious dish. If you have a potluck at church, it is a perfect thing to make up ahead of time and take with you. It is perfect for picnic, and it is perfect for just leaving in the fridge for when people get hungry.
A little over an hour later, everyone began waking up from their naps hungry, and dinner was waiting in the fridge. We all got a bowl full of salata de beauof and went to the couch to watch TV and eat together. My Korean son in law said he really liked it. Leaving out the pickles and using cucumbers was the right thing for me to do, but I recommend the pickles unless you have someone at your house who doesn’t like sour things.