2014 is going to be a wonderful year — I can just feel it.
I’ve met some wonderful friends through J5MM over the last few years and for that very sole reason I am proud of this blog. But there are two people in particular that I absolutely can not wait to meet in person and it’s going to happen this year. We’ve been friends online now for a while — sharing stories of weekend adventures, Airstreams and best of all — the Japanese culture. Obviously I’m not Japanese but the culture has always fascinated me, so much in fact that at times in my life I have become quite absorbed in learning more about it. Fortunately for me, these sweet friends of mine have generously taken their time to carefully explain traditions as well as other things including the cuisine of the culture to me. They even sent me the best care package ever.
Growing up with my dad I recall his strong fascination with the Japanese culture as well. For as long as I can remember we always removed our shoes before entering our house and we always had a Washitsu which is a traditional Japanese room complete with tatami flooring and shoji sliding doors my dad built himself. This was always his room for meditation, learning how to speak and read Japanese and just relaxing.
Maybe that’s where I got it from.
So this afternoon with long time inspiration from my friends and memories of my dad, I decided to make one of our favorite salads ever. A delicious Japanese potato salad with some pretty unique flavors.
One thing I would like to mention about this recipe is the ingredient “Kewpie Mayonnaise.” Kewpie compared to American mayo is smoother, creamier with an eggy custard like rich flavor. It’s made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar. Its super popular in Japan and Wikipedia says that people who are known to really like mayonnaise are known to be called mayora by their friends. Nice!
I find Kewpie at my local Asian market called Uwajimaya — if you have a local Asian market I bet you could find it there or if not I know you can order massive quantities online :)
If you’re not a fan of mayo, you could substitute the mayo with extra virgin olive oil and I bet it would be just as delicious (and lighter).
Pickling the cucumbers and onions below gives them a nice flavor while helping them become crunchy in the salad. Just perfect ♥
Top your salad with some black sesame seeds — they add a pretty contrast to the salad and nice little crunch too ✿
Here’s to an awesome 2014 !!
~ Monica xoxo
Japanese Potato Salad
- 5 Russet Potatoes (peeled and cut into medium sized chunks -- You can use a waxy variety but the creamy texture from the Russets sent this dish over the top ♥)
- 3 Thick Slices of Ham (chopped into little cubes)
- 1 Small Cucumber (thinly sliced - about 3/4 cup)
- 1 Large Carrot (peeled and then peeled completely through creating "ribbons." Roughly chop the ribbons.)
- Onion (thinly sliced - about 1/4 cup)
- 4 tablespoons Kewpie Mayonaise (found in Asian Markets -- this is honestly what makes this salad so Heavenly but if you don't have access to Asian markets you can use regular mayonnaise which is just fine.)
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Honey
- 1/2 Lemon Squeezed
- 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar (using 1 tablespoon at a time in different steps)
- pinch Black Sesame Seeds (for garnish and a little crunch)
|Put the potatoes in a pot of water taking care to make sure the potatoes are covered by about 1" of water. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to medium cooking the taters until they're soft -- around 15 minutes and easily pierced with a fork.|
|Taking a small bowl, combine your cucumber, onion, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar with a generous pinch of salt. Toss to coat evenly and set aside.|
|In a medium bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, mayo, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and honey. Mix well to combine.|
|When the potatoes are ready, drain and add them (hot) to the mayo mixture. Use a potato masher and gently mash the mixture creating a Heavenly bowl of creamy goodness -- but take care to leave some chunks :)|
|Squeeze as much liquid out of the onions and cucumbers as you can and add them to the bowl followed by the ham and drizzle the juice from 1/2 lemon over the top and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.|
|This only gets better the longer it sits :) Best. Potato. Salad. Ever :)|