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What Is Japanese Mayonnaise?
Mayonnaise is a condiment or sauce made from egg yolks, oil, and vinegar or lemon juice. The Japanese version of this European sauce features additional umami in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG); Japanese mayonnaise is also made with egg yolks only, making it more yellow in color than commercial American mayo, which typically uses whole eggs. Japanese mayonnaise is readily available in many Asian grocery stores, but nothing beats the flavor of homemade mayonnaise.
A Brief History of Japanese Mayo
The origins of the word “mayonnaise” are unclear, but the condiment likely evolved from aioli, a sauce made from egg yolks, garlic, and olive oil that’s fundamental to both Catalan and Provençal cuisine. The plain version of mayonnaise, likely popularized by the French, spread throughout Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and was sold commercially in the United States as early as 1907. In 1925, Toichiro Nakashima developed Kewpie mayonnaise, now the most popular brand of mayonnaise in Japan, after trying American mayonnaise during a trip to the United States.
4 Ways to Use Japanese Mayo
Japanese mayonnaise is an essential ingredient, seasoning, and dipping sauce in many Japanese recipes.
- Okonomiyaki: This Japanese savory pancake is typically covered in squiggles of Japanese mayo and dark brown okonomiyaki sauce.
- Tamago sando: To make an authentic Japanese egg salad sandwich, you'll need Japanese mayo.
- Potato salad: In Japan, Japanese mayo is used to make Japanese-style potato salad, a popular breakfast food and snack.
- Karaage: Karaage is Japanese battered and deep-fried food, typically fried chicken. Japanese mayonnaise is typically served with karaage as a dipping sauce.
Simple Japanese Mayo Recipe
Prep Time30 min
Total Time30 min
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon monosodium glutamate or dashi powder
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup neutral-flavor vegetable oil such as canola oil
- In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine vinegar, mustard, salt, MSG, and egg yolks. Process or whisk until fully combined.
- With the food processor or mixer running, slowly dribble oil into the mixture. When the mayonnaise has emulsified, you can add the oil in a steady stream.
- Taste and add vinegar and/or salt if needed.
- Transfer the mayonnaise to a squeeze bottle and refrigerate.
- Homemade mayonnaise will keep for several days.
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