Did you know that Japan has their own style of potato salad? Well it’s true! In fact they have a wide variety of ‘introduced foods’ that have been customized into a unique Japanese style over the years. These dishes are known as yoshoku, or ‘western food’ and some things in this category may surprise you. One of my favorite yoshoku dishes is Japanese potato salad, which I often make for potlucks!
Japanese potato salad is quite different than your go-to American style potato salad, or the tangy warm German Potato Salad. The Japanese signature style is that it uses plenty of colorful vegetables, to the point where it is more veggie heavy than potato!
Being a yoshoku dish, Japanese potato salad is in the same family as things like Japanese Curry, Tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet, and naporitan. You will also find this potato salad in convenience store sandwiches in the likes of 7-11 or Lawsons.
What Makes Japanese Potato Salad Special?
Other than the previously mentioned high ratio of other things to potato, one thing that makes Japanese potato salad special is the use of Japanese mayonnaise. This mayonnaise is far richer than the western version since it only uses egg yolk instead of the whole egg. It also has a super savory umami factor due to the addition of MSG. The most famous brand internationally is Kewpie, but you can make your own Japanese mayonnaise at home with this recipe.
How To Make Japanese Potato Salad
The ingredients in this recipe are fairly common and easy to find. Probably why this is such a popular homestyle dish. The one thing you absolutely do need is the Japanese mayonnaise as the flavor it imparts to this salad are so unique. If you don’t want to make your own (very easy) then you can try to order it online or pick it up at an Asian grocery store.
- 3 large Potatoes – I use a few Russet potatoes which work well in this recipe. You can use any potato that you would use for fries as it will likely work just fine.
- 1 large Carrot – peeled and sliced into very thin quarter-rounds.
- 2 Persian Cucumbers – or one long English cucumber. Halved and sliced into thin half-rounds
- 1 cup Corn – you can use frozen or canned, both work well in this recipe.
- 2 Eggs – hardboiled
- 75 grams Ham – this is about a couple sheets of thick style lunchmeat ham or about half a cup of julienned cut ham.
- 2 tbsp Japanese Mayonnaise – or to taste. Start with 2 heaping tablespoons and then add more later if necessary (I often go up to 4 but it really depends on how wet your potatoes and vegetables are).
- 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tsp White Pepper – or to taste
- Salt – to taste, plus for salted the boiling potato water
- 1 tbsp Sugar – optional, if you feel the dish would benefit.
- Green Onion – optional, for garnish
Making The Potato Salad Step By Step
Step one in making this salad is to boil the potatoes. Peel them and cut them into chunks, then place in a pot. Fill the pot with water so it is one inch (2.5cm) above the tops of the potato pieces. Bring to a boil and let them cook until the potatoes are fork tender.
While the potatoes are cooking you should work on everything else. Cut your cucumbers into half moon slices and sprinkle them with about two teaspoons of salt. Set them aside and work on cutting the carrots and ham.
Once your potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes, give them a very rough mash. You don’t want creamy mashed potatoes. Just use the masher to chunk them up a bit like the picture above.
Next add the carrots, corn, and ham.
Take your salted cucumber pieces and run them under ice water to rinse them of the excess salt. This will keep the cucumber from bringing too much salt to the potato salad, as well as keeping them nice and crisp.
Add the cucumber, chopped boiled egg, Japanese mayonnaise, vinegar, and white pepper to the bowl. If you are adding sugar you can add it now, or just wait until after mixing and then add to taste.
Give everything a good mix with a paddle or rubber spatula. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Then place in a serving bowl. Garnish with some chopped green onion and enjoy!
What To Eat With Japanese Potato Salad
Since Japanese potato salad is a side dish it can be paired with a variety of dishes. Or even used as the filling for white bread sandwiches!
Here are a few other Japanese dishes that pair well with this potato salad:
- Braised or Grilled meats balance nicely with this creamy salad.
- Onigiri is another popular convenience store staple. My spicy tuna onigiri and this potato salad are a great match when you want to recreate those Tokyo 7-11 trips in between bar hopping.
- Chicken Katsu is a meal in itself but every main can have a side and potato salad shines in this pairing.
Japanese Potato Salad
- 1 Pot
- 1 Bowl
- 1 Knife
- 3 large Potatoes I use a few Russet potatoes which work well in this recipe. You can use any potato that you would use for fries as it will likely work just fine.
- 1 large Carrot peeled and sliced into very thin quarter-rounds.
- 2 Persian Cucumbers or one long English cucumber. Halved and sliced into thin half-rounds
- 1 cup Corn you can use frozen or canned both work well in this recipe.
- 2 Eggs hardboiled
- 75 grams Ham this is about a couple sheets of thick style lunchmeat ham or about half a cup of julienned cut ham.
- 2 tbsp Japanese Mayonnaise or to taste. Start with 2 heaping tablespoons and then add more later if necessary. I often go up to 4 but it really depends on how wet your potatoes and vegetables are.
- 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tsp White Pepper or to taste
- Salt to taste plus for salted the boiling potato water
- 1 tbsp Sugar optional, if you feel the dish would benefit.
- Green Onion optional, for garnish
- Begin by peeling the potatoes. Cut them into chunks and place them in a pot, then add water until over 1 inch (2.5cm) the top of the potatoes. Put on a boil.
- While the potatoes are boiling cut the cucumbers into half rounds and then slices. Place on a plate and sprinkle over about 2 tsp of salt. Set aside.
- Prep the carrots and ham.
- When the potatoes are done (fork tender), drain them and give them a very rough smash. You don't want mashed potatoes, just a few smashes to keep rough chunks in there. Place into a bowl.
- Add the carrots and ham and corn.
- Run the cucumbers under cold water to rinse off the excess salt and chill them a bit. Shake them off and add them to the bowl.
- Finally add the rest of the ingredients and give everything a good mix with a paddle or rubber spatula. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Move to a serving bowl and enjoy!