Homemade Japanese Mayonnaise (日式蛋黄酱)
August 20, 2022  Print
I didn’t know that the mayonnaise that I had been making throughout my childhood was called Japanese mayo until just a short while ago. I had a discussion with a good friend about the difference between Japanese and American mayo. That’s when I did some diggings and found out that Japanese mayo was made with pure egg yolks whereas American mayo was made with whole eggs. In my opinion, the texture of Japanese mayo is richer and smoother. To my surprise, I had actually been making my own Japanese mayonnaise as a kid.
I remember distinctly that whenever I had a sleepover party or study group with my friends during middle school, we would make potato salad from scratch using hand-made mayonnaise in my grandma’s kitchen. There was no internet back then, and our school library certainly did not stock any culinary books. So how exactly we learned about making Japanese mayo is still a mystery to me.
We would use one or two egg yolks and slowly add vegetable oil to first make the mayonnaise base. Then we would boil some potatoes, chop some ham, mix everything with the mayo to make potato salad. I still fondly think of that potato salad as the best I’ve ever had. Making the mayo and the potato salad with my friends was probably the best memory I could ask for as a middle school student when everything else was about exams, homework, and weekend classes.
So that was my personal tale about making the Japanese mayo. Nowadays, Japanese mayonnaise brand Kewpie dominates Japan and much of the Asian market. They are sold in a smartly-designed bottle for easy squeezing. Yes, you can definitely buy this tasty mayo. I use it myself from time to time. Alternatively you can try making some homemade Japanese mayo!
You don’t need electric tools like a food processor or blender to make mayo. All you need is a pair of chopsticks or a fork and little bit of patience. The vegetable oil needs to be added very slowly, a few drops at a time for the first 5 minutes. That is followed by quick mixing. This allows the egg yolks to form a permanent emulsion with the oil. If you add the oil too quickly without enough mixing, the egg yolk and oil will not form a stable emulsion and will stay thin and eventually separate.
Once you make the Japanese mayo base, you can add other flavors. I gave a few example options below, but don’t let me stop you from experimenting! This Japanese mayo can be served the same way as American mayo.
Gluten Free, Low Carb
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1/3 cup mayo
- 1 egg yolk from a large, pasteurized egg
- 1/4 cup light flavored oil (such as canola, grape, or peanut oil)
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, pink salt, or table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar or combination of the two
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sugar
- Option 1: 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (similar to Kewpie mayo in my opinion)
- Option 2: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon wasabi
- Option 3: 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
- In a small mixing ball, add the egg yolk. Use a fork or whisk to blend the egg yolk. Then add just two drops of oil and blend well (DO NOT over pour the oil). Keep adding a few drops of oil at a time and blending immediately. The yolk mixture should be quite thick after each time you blend as the yolk slowly absorbs the oil. Once the egg-yolk mixture start turning lighter in color, increase the amount of the oil slowly while mixing at the same time. I’ve found it’s best to use an oil or vinegar dispenser because you can add gradually and control the amount of oil down to a few drops at a time. Always wait for the sauce to absorb the oil and thicken before adding more, otherwise the sauce will not form a permanent emulsion and will stay thin and eventually separate. It takes 5 to 10 minutes to blend the 1/4 cup of oil by hand.
- Add 1/8 teaspoon of fine seal salt, 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon sugar. Mix well.
- For different flavors, add Dijon mustard, wasabi, or curry powder to the Japanese mayo base. In my opinion, adding a tiny bit of Dijon mustard results in a flavor similar to Kewpie mayo.
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