It’s been about 5 months since we moved from Atlanta to the San Francisco Bay Area. So far we’re loving it, but there are a number of things I miss about our old home – as funny as it may sound, incredible tater tots is one of them. Prior to living in Atlanta, I lived in D.C. I think the last time I had tots served to me, was in the cafeteria lunch line in elementary school. It wasn’t until we moved to Atlanta that I was re-introduced to them in a big way. Many of the restaurants we frequented served them as appetizers. These weren’t tots out of a bag, these were handmade, sometimes mixed with various spices, and generally served with a variety of sauces. I don’t know if it’s an Atlanta thing or a southern thing, but I had never seen them elevated in this way, and since moving out of The ATL I haven’t seen them served at all. As it turns out, Mr. HapaNom is in Atlanta for business. Perhaps that’s what has me reminiscing about gloriously crispy and golden-brown tater tots. I enjoy making as much as I can from scratch. But sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy, and I totally get that! There are days when my grocers freezer is my best friend. So no worries! Feel free to use frozen tater tots, the only thing you need to make is the sauce – something that’s quick and easy. The dipping sauce takes no time at all to make. Spicy and umami rich gochujang (a Korean chili paste), sweet honey, tangy lime, and creamy mayo just to name just a few of the ingredients, all thrown into a food processor and pureed – it’s well balanced and makes a perfect dipping sauce for these crispy little gems. Garlic Tater Tots with a Spicy Asian Dipping Sauce are perfect as a snack or side, they also make a great party appetizer! If you’re a big party snacker like myself, just think how easily poppable these tots are – your guests will love them!
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
- 3 tablespoons gochujang
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- Tater Tots*
- 1½ pounds Russet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), scrubbed
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- canola oil, for frying
- 1 scallion, sliced, for garnish (optional)
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the potatoes in the oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes - you should be able to pierce them easily with a fork when they're done. When cool enough to handle, but still hot, peel the skin using a pairing knife (the skin should peel away easily). Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the potatoes into a large bowl. Add the salt, garlic powder, and mix to combine.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop some of the potato mixture into the palm of your hand. Form into a small cylinder - it's less about rolling and more about gentle compression to make each tot. Place them on a sheet pan and repeat with the remaining potato mixture. (I found I didn't need flour in the mix, but If you're having difficultly with the tots taking shape, try stirring in 1 teaspoon of flour). Once completed, gently roll each tot in flour and place back onto the plate. Allow them to rest while you heat the oil.
- Line another baking sheet with paper towels. Add ½ inch of oil to a frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. To check to see if the oil is hot enough, submerge a chopstick or wooden spoon into the oil until it touches the bottom - little bubbles should fizz up. When hot enough, carefully add the tots, about 8 - 10 at a time. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not stir them right away, or they will break apart. At the one minute mark, give them a gentle stir. Once done, use a slotted spoon to transfer the tots to the paper towel lined baking sheet.
- Serve with the spicy Asian dipping sauce and garnish with scallions and sesames. Serve and enjoy!
*For a semi-homemade alternative, a reader suggested using 'Simply Potatoes, Shredded Hash Browns'. If you find that they're not sticking together to form a little tot, try giving a rough chop if the shreds are too long and adding a teaspoon of flour to the mix to help it bind together.
* If you would like to freeze the homemade tots, cool to room temp, and freeze in a single layer. Then store in an air-tight container or freezer bag. When ready to use, heat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until crispy and warmed through.
Take Two Tapas says
Making tater tots from scratch is always the way to go! The texture is so much better!! Plus no junk! This sauce is blowing my mind. I think I might want to just drink it…
HOLY F!!!! HOW DID I MISS THESE!!!! These are my tater come dream come true…seriously so obsessed! And that pic! OMG I almost licked the damn screen! AHHHHHHHH I am in love…And how do you not have tater tots by you? You poor poor thing…shall I send you some 🙂
before moving to the pacific northwest, i lived on a lot of acreage. a lot of acreage = a lot of rescued dogs. duh 🙂 my pack of hairy babies always included several with docked tails of varying lengths and widths. because of my piggy ways, the shapes of these cute tails reminded me of food items… a baked potato, a hot dog, a blackberry, a dolma, and so on. such lovely memories pass through my mind as i type this to you. present day finds me as one-doggy mom of a big boy boxer named, jimi. the day i met him at the pound, his front half was buried under a blanket so the first thing i saw was his adorable “tater tot” tail. in honor of jimi’s cuteness, this –i have never tried– garlic and potato marriage, and needing something to graze upon as i binge watch season 2 of Mozart in the Jungle, i will make be making these on saturday.
Oh my gosh, I keep telling my husband that if we ever won the lottery, I’m buying a bunch of land and I’m taking in every dog that needs a home! Come on 1.5 billion dollar Powerball! Fortunately, my husband is a vet, so he’s totally on board – though he’s already expressed his desire to live on a goat farm (he says goats are the dogs of the livestock world). I can’t tell you how many goat videos he’s shown me over the years… though they are pretty cute 😉
I was seriously smiling reading through your note. First of all, how great to have enough property to have rescued pups! Second, I LOVE that you equated their tails to various forms of food! Too funny! Jimi and his little tater tot tail sounds adorable! Maybe make a few garlic-free tots for him later this weekend 🙂
Mon Petit Four (@byMonPetitFour) says
Oh yum!! The South knows how to do tater tots. And apparently so do you, Kathleen! These look out of this world good! I love the idea of infusing garlic flavor and then pairing it with a spicy sauce – fantastic!! I’d totally love some of these right now, mmm!
Thanks, Beeta! I hadn’t had them since I was kid… that is until we moved to Atlanta! Now I crave them all the time 😉
Wow these tater tots look perfect and the sauce sounds great!
The sauce is great on hamburgers and hot dogs too 😉
Marissa (@pinchandswirl) says
I am a sucker for tater tots, Kathleen. These have me drooling on my keyboard. Don’t judge! 😉 The spicy sauce looks awesome too…
Oh no judgement here. There should be a splash-guard on my keyboard 😉 So glad you enjoy the recipe!
Sweet and Savoury Pursuits says
I’m getting so hungry reading and looking at those perfectly shaped tater tots, dipping sauce sounds amazing!
Thanks so much! I have a weakness for crispy potato concoctions 😉
In Good Flavor (@InGoodFlavor) says
It’s not every day you come across homemade tater tots. These look delicious and the asian dipping sauce is what makes them uber special. I’d say these are fancy restaurant tater tots. Yum!
Aw… thanks sweetie! If I see tots on a restaurant menu – I’m a happy lady 🙂
Jess @ What Jessica Baked Next says
These tater tots look delicious, Kathleen! Love the dipping sauce, it sounds like the perfect accompaniment!
Thanks, Jess! Give the sauce a try on burgers too 😉
Holy moly!! I actually wrote a swear word there (“holy sh1t!”), it was just my natural instinct, oops! This is incredible Kathleen, that first photo, seriously almost broke my computer screen. I NEED some tots, need need NEED!!!
No tots in SF?? How weird. Almost as weird as Atlanta being known for tots??
Your tots are seriously the best looking tots I’ve ever seen. <3
Ha! Thanks, Nagi. I thought you might like these 😉
I’m sure there are tots being served in restaurants in SF, but I haven’t come across any yet. In Atlanta, it seemed like every restaurant had them on their appetizer list. I think generally there are more tots per capita in the ATL 😛
These are absolutely awesome! Please let me come over and all I want are these tater tots! I have never thought of making tater tots are home, but now I have to! The sauce sounds brilliant too! Nommmm….
Thanks, Lokness! If you’re ever up this way, let me know! I’ll have you over for some tots 🙂
karrie @ Tasty Ever After says
Fried potatoes are my jam. I could eat them 24/7, especially when paired with a yummy sauce like yours. I’m starting to think that you and my Hubby are long lost siblings separated at birth because you make so many of his favorite foods. He LOVES tater tots and will be super excited when I make these for him. So glad you have gochujang in your sauce too. I have a big container of it open in the refrig and I’ve been trying to think of things to use it in. Guess I’ll be making a big gallon jar of your sauce to pour over everything and anything we eat 🙂
Lol! Well your husband must have wonderful tastes 😉 Seriously though, I’m so glad the both of you enjoy them so much! Omg, gochujang is an incredible ingredient – I use it every chance I get! It fantastic in marinades, bbq, dips, sauces. I have a few recipes that use it – if you’re interested, just type it into the search bar. Hope you enjoy, Karrie! xxoo
My pop used to call me tater tot but I have never had the pleasure of eating them or really understanding what they were. Now i understand. These look so delicious. I can;t wait to try them!!
Aww… that’s an adorable nickname – I love it! Oh man, if you’ve never had a tater tot, you’re in for a real treat!
The simply potato hash browns aren’t frozen…That’s the beauty…no built up liquid to worry about…
Oh, wow! How cool is that?! Thanks for clarifying! I’ll be sure to make note. Thanks, Lyn! 🙂
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
Tater tots are what’s up! I think it is a Southern thang, because we had tater tots on crack in FL and we have ’em here in NC. I am LOVING yours, Kathleen! That sauce sounds amazing and like I want to put it on everything! Gimme yo tots (and a vat of that sauce while you are at it! (lol, yes I know I am lame) Cheers, Girlie! <3
Oh please, you are not lame! I always love your comments! All I gotta say is, Southerners sure know how to make a mean tot! 🙂
AiPing | Curious Nut says
There are no tater tots in Malaysia or Taiwan. I know.. blasphemy. You just made tater tots super fancy. I love it.
Ha! Total blasphemy! 😉
Is there some sort of fried potato dish in the cuisine? Some sort of equivalent that could be transformed into a tot?
AiPing | Curious Nut says
Nada. So so sad. But we shall educate these (me?) Asians. They have no idea what they’re missing. :p
Oh my gosh, you should! You’d be like a rock star! 😉
AiPing | Curious Nut says
Tater tots rock star!!!
Ooo… did you try them?!
Helen @ scrummy lane says
My favourite thing about reading other blogs is finding out about regional food. I’ve never heard of tater tots being served as an appetizer before, but it totally makes sense, especially if they’re served as swankily (is that a word?) as yours are. That dipping sauce sounds just sublime!
That’s one of my favorite things about reading other blogs too! I was really surprised by Atlanta’s food scene – they’re doing some really spectacular stuff by reinventing classics and/or soul food.
Swankily? If it’s not a word, it should be 😉 Cheers, girl!
Your post tickled me. Who would think you would miss Tater Tots??? Making fresh is ALWAYS the best. But for those days when you don’t have the time…I have an alternative to frozen tater tots…I use “Simply potatoes hash browns” (actually, I use them for making potato pancakes). They come out beautifully.
Ha! Yeah… I’ve been known to miss weird things 😉
Using the potato hash browns is a brilliant idea, Lyn! Thanks for the tip! I’ll make a note of it in the post 🙂
Lynn | The Road to Honey says
Hmmmm. . .that is so interesting that tater tots are so celebrated in Atlanta. I’ve never really seen that in any other city I have lived in either. But seeing these is making me question why because it seems there is so much you can do with them. Shoot. . .it seems you can even take them to a gourmet level. I mean. . .look at these lovely tater tots with that divine dipping sauce. What’s not to love and it really does make for the perfect appetizer or snack.
Isn’t the food culture so interesting in various cities and regions?! Another big Atlanta food item is pimento cheese (a mixture of cheese, pimentos, and mayo). It’s everywhere and before I lived there, I wasn’t really even sure what it was! Now it’s one of my favorite dips and it’s fantastic melted onto burgers!
I was impressed with the food scene in Atlanta, really impressed. Elevating humble foods to something spectacular is something they’ve nailed.