Classic Japanese potato salad recipe. Made with mashed potato and colorful vegetables, Japanese potato salad is creamy yet full of textural crunch. If you’re a potato salad lover, you will be happy to add this delicious version into your repertoire.
Are you surprised if I tell you that potato salad is a home-cooking staple dish in Japan? Economical to make and comforting to eat, it’s no wonder potato salad is universally loved.
Japanese Potato Salad (ポテトサラダ) is a little different from typical versions of American potato salad. The potatoes are roughly mashed, so it’s kind of like mashed potatoes with all the colorful ingredients. It’s creamy and smooth, but with added chunky textures from the vegetables. You can’t stop eating them once you have a bite.
What is Japanese Potato Salad?
Potato salad is another import of western cuisine (known as yoshoku) that is highly embraced by the Japanese. The classic Japanese potato salad is made of mashed potato (leaving some chunks behind), sliced cucumbers and carrots, eggs and sometimes hams. The ingredients are not too different from the western version, but flavoring wise, the Japanese version is always seasoned with Japanese mayonnaise and sometimes rice vinegar.
There are a few variations based on your family’s taste, but it’s more standard than American potato salad varieties. The salad always includes a myriad of vegetables, which makes it healthier and visually eye-catching.
Most of the ingredients are easy to find in regular grocery stores. To make the salad uniquely Japanese, I highly recommend using Japanese mayonnaise which attributes a sweeter, richer creamy flavor. You can find Japanese mayo in Japanese and Asian grocery stores as well as Amazon (or substitute following my recipe here).
Just like the potato salads in the US, Japanese potato salad is also a popular party dish. You might also see it as a side dish in a bento lunch box, next to Karaage and Hambagu (Japanese hamburger steak). But of course, if you’re throwing a Japanese-theme BBQ, potluck or picnic, you will have to complete the menu with this classic Japanese Potato Salad.
Leftover Japanese Potato Salad?
My family loves potato salad so we actually don’t have much leftover. I usually make extra potato salad so that I can make this Potato Salad Pork Rolls (recipe here). Thinly sliced pork is wrapped around the potato salad and the teriyaki glaze goes really well with potato salad. This is a great example of the leftover turns into the main dish the next day.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Japanese Potato Salad
- 2 russet potatoes
- ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (for the potatoes)
- 1 large egg (50 g w/o shell)
- 2 inches carrot
- ¼ cup frozen or canned corn
- 2 inches English cucumber (or 1 Japanese/Persian cucumber)
- ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (for cucumber)
- 2 slices black forest ham
- ⅓ cup Japanese mayonnaise (80 ml)
- kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (to taste)
- freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Peel potato skins and cut into 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm) pieces. They should be roughly about the same size so that they’ll be done cooking around be the same. Put potatoes in a large pot and add water until it covers all the potatoes. We start cooking potatoes in cold water so that it allows them to slowly heat up so they will cook through evenly.
- Boil potatoes over medium-high heat. Once boiling, lower heat to medium and cook until a skewer goes through the potato smoothly, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the water from the pot.
- Put the potatoes back on the stove and let them evaporate moisture completely over medium heat, shaking the pot constantly. When you see there no liquid in the pot, remove it from the heat.
- Mash the potatoes but leave some small chunks for texture. Sprinkle salt and transfer it into a big bowl and let it cool on the kitchen counter.
- Meanwhile prepare a boiled egg. Remove the shell and mash the egg with a fork in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cut carrots into quarter (or half, depending on the diameter) and then slice it thinly. Put them in a microwave-safe container and cover them with water. Microwave for a few minutes until a skewer goes smoothly through the carrot (don’t overcook). Drain water and cool down.
- Peel the cucumber (leave some skin on to create a stripe pattern) and cut it into half or quarter, based on the size of the cucumber. Cut the cucumber into thin slices and sprinkle some salt. Let them stand until moisture comes out. Squeeze the moisture out and set aside.
- Dice the sliced hams into small size.
- Add all the ingredients into the mashed potatoes in the bowl and combine well.
- Add mayonnaise and mix until incorporated. Season it with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Add boiled eggs and mix a bit but don’t overdo it. Let it cool and then refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before serving.
- You can keep the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Aug 31, 2011 as a guest post at An Italian Cooking in the Midwest.