Japanese Potato Salad
To tell the truth, I was shocked when I found out potato salad was originally a western thing. For Japanese people, this is definitely one of those old recipes that make you nostalgic for mom’s food. In other words, potato salad is so deeply adopted in Japanese cooking we don’t even file it under the category of “Western-style cooking” – we just think of it as our own.
My mom used to make potato salad as a side dish, particularly when the main dish was something with pork, and doubly so if it was stir-fried with soy sauce. So, in Japan, potato salad is more side dish than a main dish, and you don’t eat a large quantity like Germans do.
Even so, like any potato salad, it’s perfect for a party or a barbecue!
Ingredients (for two):
- Potatoes – two
- Cucumber – half a small one
- Cooked ham -half a sheet
- Mayonnaise – two tablespoons (preferably “Kewpie” brand Japanese mayonnaise)
- Optional: Lemon juice or Vinegar – if you’re not using Kewpie mayonnaise, add half a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the mayonnaise to “kewpiefy it”.
- Salt and pepper
- Peel the potatoes and cut them in small chunks and leave them under water
- Place a whole cucumber on a cutting board and sprinkle it with salt
- Applying a little pressure with the base of your hands, roll the cucumber back-and-forth over the salt, until it starts to “sweat” – i.e., give off excess water.
This technique is called “itazuri” and it makes the cucumber’s colors more vivid at the same time it removes any unpleasant bitteness.
- Slice the cucumber as thin as possible. You’re aiming for translucent slices here. And squeeze out the extra moisture.
- Cut ham into thin strips
- Place in a small pan and add just enough water to cover them, add a bit of salt, bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes.
- Drain the water
- Place potatoes in a bowl, purée them roughly with a fork.
- Add the cut cucumbers and ham, then mix it thoroughly.
- Add mayonnaise and mix it thoroughly
- Salt and pepper to taste
Put in the fridge and serve cold.
(Note: don’t get confused by the large quantities in the photos. I just cooked this for a big family dinner, so all quantities in the recipe are multiplied by eight in the photos!)