Photo/Illutration Potato salad (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

Editor’s note: The theme of Gohan Lab is to help people make simple, tasty “gohan” (meals).

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Countless dishes taste best when they are freshly cooked, but the gentle flavor of a still lightly warm potato salad stands out. Yet when boiled at home, potatoes can turn watery or become sticky if mashed, quite unlike offerings at stores or restaurants.

Cooking expert Akiko Watanabe recommends a salad using steamed potatoes. Since they are not boiled, the tubers do not become watery. Steaming after cutting them into pieces also saves time. Above all, the moist and smooth texture that results is bound to bring a smile to your face.

Watanabe, who has loved potato salads since her childhood, arrived at this method after trial and error. The sugar adds a gentle richness, while Japanese mustard adds zip to the overall flavor. To create an uneven texture, which is recommended, try crushing the potato halfway. Since the crushed potato will coat the rest like a sauce, the amount of seasonings can be reduced as well.

The arranged version is a salad that heralds the arrival of spring, featuring the aroma of newly harvested potatoes, known as “shin-jagaimo.”

TOPIC: Mayonnaise is indispensable

Mayonnaise, an indispensable ingredient of potato salad, was first marketed in Japan in 1925. According to Kewpie Corp., the manufacturer of the first product here, mayonnaise was a luxury item that was not familiar to consumers in those days. There is an anecdote about mayonnaise being mistaken for pomade.

There are two types of mayonnaise, those made with just egg yolks and ones that use whole eggs. The latter predominates overseas. They are said to be whitish and lighter in flavor.

Although some products offer reduced calories, the trend in recent years is “to actively consume healthy oil” and we are seeing more products that feature linseed oil or perilla oil.

The cookery aspect of this week’s recipe was supervised by Haruka Yamada, who handles research and development at Kewpie Corp.


Tips on making potato salad (Masahiro Goda)

(Supervised by Akiko Watanabe in the cooking aspect and Haruka Yamada in the cookery science aspect)

* Ingredients (Serve two)
2 potatoes (260 grams in total), 30 grams carrot, 1/2 cucumber, 1 slice ham, Base seasonings (1/2 tsp vinegar, 1/3 tsp salt, bit of pepper), Seasonings (40 grams mayonnaise, 1/4 tsp Japanese mustard [neri-garashi], 1/4 tsp sugar)

About 260 kcal and 1.6 grams salt per portion

1. Peel potatoes, cut in 2-cm-thick quadrants and immerse in water for 1 to 2 minutes to keep the cut section from discoloring. Drain. Cut carrot into quadrants that are 5 mm thick. Cook both in a steamer with vapor rising for 15 to 16 minutes on medium heat. (PHOTO A)

PHOTO A: Bring water to a boil in a pot, place a steamer on top, add the ingredients and then the lid. Steam until a bamboo skewer enters smoothly. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

2. Finely slice cucumber in rounds, mix with a dash of salt and leave for 5 minutes. When slices become tender, squeeze out water. Cut ham into squares 1 cm on a side.

3. Drain potato and carrot pieces and place in bowl. Push carrot to the side. Sprinkle Base seasonings on potato and crush with fork (PHOTO B).

4. Mix Seasonings in another bowl (PHOTO C), add potato and carrot and mix. Mix in the cucumber and ham, and it’s done.

PHOTO B: Crush potato by pressing down with a fork. Leave about a half not crushed. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)
PHOTO C: After adding the seasonings to the bowl, mix thoroughly with a spatula. It will taste uneven if not mixed well. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)


Akiko Watanabe is a cooking expert who specializes in Japanese cuisine.

Haruka Yamada handles research and development at Kewpie Corp.


Salad of newly harvested potatoes (Serves two)

Salad of newly harvested potatoes (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

Wash 4 to 5 newly harvested potatoes (200 grams in total) by rubbing the skin. Cut into rounds with a thickness of 5 to 6 mm and steam for 10 to 12 minutes in a steamer until a bamboo skewer enters smoothly. Finely slice 30 grams of newly harvested onion, mix with 1 tsp each of sugar and vinegar and leave for 5 minutes. Rinse and drain. Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil, 1 tsp vinegar, 1/3 tsp salt and a bit of coarsely grated black peppercorns to a bowl and mix with onion. Add potato and mix.


Although vinegar and oil separate when mixed, the egg yolk lecithin that is a kind of fat ties them together (emulsification) and mayonnaise is the result. But when the temperature drops to zero or below, the fat and oil in the oil droplets crystalize, break the surface, and cause the oil drops to connect. This leads to the separation of vinegar and oil. Mayonnaise should be stored in the door pocket of the fridge where the temperature is not too low.

The Asahi Shimbun

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From The Asahi Shimbun’s Gohan Lab column