Why You Should Reconsider Al Dente Potatoes

The potato has come a long way since its first known recipe in 1581, per the Christian Science Monitor, and today, while it has become more popular as a food source in its many cooked forms, few recipes entertain the tuber al dente.

An accepted use of al dente potatoes in American food seems to be when they occur in potato salad, according to Jill Silverman Hough. But the United States Department of Agriculture reports potato salad only accounts for a mere 2% of household potato consumption in America. Other than that, there seems to be advocacy against under-cooking the tuber; "since potatoes are dense, starchy root vegetables, they need to be cooked all the way through," explains the Kitchn

It does not stop at mere preference; some cite health concerns. The Rusty Spoon takes a hardline stance, stating, "the bottom line is that no, you can't eat potatoes that have been undercooked" and blames the existence of the naturally occurring compound called solanine that occurs in raw potatoes.

Stir-fried potatoes

Solanine occurs in the thin outer layer of all potatoes and in particularly high percentages when the tuber is green (via Medical News Today and Bionity). To avoid solanine, one can cut away the green parts of the tuber or not use greening potatoes at all. Another way to obliterate the danger is by frying the potatoes, as ScienceDirect shares that this cooking method deactivates the solanine.

James Beard Award-winning food writer Cathy Erway recommends a Chinese recipe with julienned potatoes stir-fried al dente for Taste, saying of the dish, "It's unlike much of what we've seen throughout this potato-filled planet." As is a requisite for successful stir-fries, the wok needs to be scorching hot to get the potato stir fry to a point where it is in the middle ground between crispy and tender ... or you know, al dente (via Bon Appétit). 

Not only can al dente potatoes be delicious, but consumed in moderation or as part of a balanced diet, they have unique health benefits, per  Healthline, in that they contain more vitamin C than thoroughly cooked potatoes and can help control blood sugar levels.