This Japanese potato salad recipe is one of the most versatile potato salad recipes you will make. On the menu at Japanese izakayas, in bento boxes, and served with dishes such as tonkatsu in Japan, a Japanese potato salad comprises partly-mashed diced potatoes, finely sliced cucumbers and carrots, corn kernels, boiled eggs, ham, and Japanese mayonnaise.
Our creamy Japanese potato salad recipe makes a quintessential Japanese potato salad, which is part potato salad and part potato mash, thanks to the use of starchy rather than waxy potatoes, and is made with veggies such as corn, carrots and cucumber, along with ham and eggs, and Japanese mayonnaise.
If you’ve travelled in Japan you may have come across this creamy potato salad on the menus at Japanese izakayas (drinking taverns that serve small plates of food), discovered a small perfect mound of the salad in the bento box you bought on the bullet train, or enjoyed it as a side served with moist, tender tonkatsu.
If you love potato salads – and if you’re a regular reader and have made our potato salad recipes before, from our decadent salmon potato salad to our traditional Russian potato salad for an Olivier salad, you know how much we adore potato salads – then you’re going to love this Japanese potato salad.
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Now let’s tell you about this Japanese potato salad recipe.
Japanese Potato Salad Recipe for One of the Most Versatile Potato Salad Recipes You Will Make
Terence is in the kitchen making tonkatsu right now and we have this Japanese potato salad, which I made this afternoon, to go with it. We’ve been seriously craving Japanese food, after almost two years without travelling.
But the kind of Japanese food that I’ve been dreaming of eating again is not fancy Japanese restaurant food. I’ve got no interest in an expensive omakase, rather I’ve been craving the everyday Japanese food that Tokyo office workers eat for breakfast, lunch or after work.
I’ve been dreaming of slurping big bowls of ramen and nibbling from pretty bento boxes to grazing on grilled offal at smoky stand-up eating bars or tucking into plate after plate of yakitori and yakiniku on Memory Lane.
This potato salad recipe makes one of those delicious everyday Japanese dishes that you’ll find served up everywhere from dimly-lit izakayas to boisterous yakitori joints, and will be delighted to discover in the bento boxes you can buy at train stations.
It’s super easy to make and it’s also very versatile. You can do what Japanese home cooks do and add whatever veggies you have in the fridge or freezer you have to use, from frozen peas to wilted spring onions, and supplement those with pantry staples, such as canned corn kernels.
Tips to Making this Japanese Potato Salad Recipe
This Japanese potato salad is so easy to make. It’s no harder to make than other potato salad recipes, so if you’ve researched Japanese potato salad recipes before, don’t let the long list of steps intimidate you.
Firstly, you need to use starchy potatoes, rather than the waxy potatoes normally used in European potato salads, to achieve the texture of an authentic Japanese potato salad, which is somewhere between a classic potato salad and potato mash, although I have spotted some Japanese potato salads that look like mashed potatoes.
You can boil the potatoes as you would normally, skin on or skin off. Once the potatoes are cool, peel them if needed, then dice them. In a mixing bowl, partly mash some potatoes, so that you have some that still hold their shape and remain firm.
Finely sliced carrots and cucumbers are essential to the salad and can be sliced with your sharpest kitchen knife or you can use a mandoline.
I’ve used small cucumbers and left them as whole rounds, however, if you’re using large cucumbers, slice them in half. My carrot was large, so I sliced that into half moons so it was the same size as the cucumber slices. Uniformity is key in Japanese cooking.
Salting the carrots and cucumbers to remove moisture and soften the vegetables is another important step. When you wash the salt off, squeeze out any excess moisture, then pat down the veggie slices with a paper towel.
Corn is another quintessential ingredient in Japanese potato salads. I usually use fresh corn here in Cambodia, which we will grill or steam then slice off the kernels, however, it’s perfectly acceptable in Japan to use canned corn kernels. That’s what I’ve done here and I’ve saved a teaspoon to sprinkle on at the end for colour and texture.
In terms of the rest of the vegetables, don’t feel like you need to make this Japanese potato salad recipe exactly as it is below, as every Japanese home cook and chef has their own Japanese potato salad recipe, and they use it as an opportunity to clean out the fridge.
If you can’t find Japanese rice vinegar, use another Asian rice vinegar, although the taste will be slightly different. Some Japanese cooks would simply recommend leaving the vinegar out and adding extra Kewpie.
Japanese Potato Salad Recipe
- 100 g cucumbers finely sliced
- 60 g carrot finely sliced
- 1 tsp table salt
- 400 g russet potatoes boiled, diced
- 40 g purple shallots finely diced
- 50 g corn kernels boiled or canned
- 1 hard-boiled egg diced
- 100 g ham diced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 4 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 4 chives finely chopped
- 1 tsp corn kernels for garnish
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Lay the cucumber and carrot slices on a tray or cutting board, sprinkle with salt, and rub the salt into the vegetables. After 15 minutes, transfer the sliced veggies to a fine mesh sieve, wash the salt off them under running water, squeeze any excess liquid out of them, then dry them with a paper towel.
- In a mixing bowl, roughly mash around half the boiled diced potatoes, so that half the diced potatoes still remain firm, then add the carrot and cucumber slices, other vegetables, ham, seasoning, mayonnaise, and vinegar, half the chives, and combine well. Taste, and adjust the seasoning to your palate.
- Scoop the potato salad out and into a serving bowl, sprinkle on the remaining chives as well as a teaspoon of corn kernels, and some freshly ground black pepper, and serve.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our Japanese potato salad recipe, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.