Buttered Potatoes with Chile Pepper Water Aioli

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8

At his restaurant Mahina & Sun’s, Honolulu-born chef Ed Kenney showcases local and seasonal ingredients with a whole lot of aloha spirit. There, he prepares this dish with breadfruit, also known as ‘ulu. A tropical fruit that’s rich in protein and nutrients, it has been eaten in Hawaii for centuries. ‘Ulu has a potato-like consistency when cooked, so waxy potatoes make a good substitute here. Chile pepper water is a popular condiment in Hawaii, where it is used to add a wallop of heat to all sorts of dishes. Use the leftovers sprinkled on eggs, rice, meats or any other dish that would benefit from a dose of heat. You will also have leftover aioli, which is delicious served with steamed or roasted vegetables or sautéed shrimp, or slathered on bread for sandwiches.


For the chile pepper water:

  • 3 Thai chiles, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) boiling water

For the aioli:

  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./240 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 dash Tabasco
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the potatoes:

  • 2 lb. (1 kg) waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


To make the chile pepper water, in a heatproof pint jar or bottle, combine the chiles, garlic, vinegar and salt. Pour in the boiling water and seal. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using. The chile pepper water will keep, refrigerated, for up to a month.

To make the aioli, in a food processor, combine the garlic and 1/4 tsp. salt and process until the garlic is minced. Stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in about 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) of the olive oil. Drizzle in the lemon juice, Tabasco and 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) of the chile pepper water, then drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil and process until smooth and blended. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To prepare the potatoes, in a large saucepan, combine the potatoes with cold water to cover by about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Season the water with salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the potatoes until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes well and let cool slightly.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the butter about 1 Tbs. at a time and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are coated with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes have absorbed some of the butter, about 4 minutes more.

Transfer the potatoes to a serving platter and serve immediately with the aioli alongside. Serves 8.

Adapted from a recipe by Ed Kenney of Mahina & Sun’s, Waikiki, Hawaii

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