Try something special and make Japanese potato salad for your next backyard barbecue or picnic. The potatoes are mashed, combined with crunchy carrots, cucumbers and scallions, and tossed with a zesty mustard-vinegar-mayo dressing. A really great potato salad that has become our go-to!
Japanese potato salad falls into the category of yōshoku: Japanized "Western" food. Just as we Americans "Americanize" Japanese food by adding such things as cream cheese and avocado to sushi, for example, Japanese chefs have taken certain European and American dishes and tweaked them to suit their own palates.
I learned about Japanese potato salad while developing a recipe for Japanese Yakitori Chicken because in Japan you'll often find these two dishes side by side. They're meant for each other. Just add some ice cold Japanese beer for a meal of pure perfection.
Japanese potato salad is perfect summer fare, great for a picnic, outdoor entertaining, or on the side with anything grilled.
HOW TO MAKE JAPANESE POTATO SALAD
This recipe comes together quickly and easily, especially if you do all your slicing and dicing while the potatoes are boiling.
- The first step is to cook the potatoes. I've tried this recipe with russets and yellow flesh potatoes. Both are great so use whatever you have on hand or what looks best at the store. Peel the potatoes, cut them into equal sized chunks and place them in a pot of cold salted water. Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes, until they're nice and tender. Let them cool a bit and then mash them with a fork, leaving some small chunks for texture.
- While the potatoes are boiling you can prepare everything else. Peel and halve the cucumbers lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds, slice them again lengthwise so you have 4 long thin pieces. Then cut them into thin slices, crosswise.
- Next peel the carrot, slice it in half or into fourths, lengthwise, depending on how fat it is. Then cut it into thin slices, crosswise. Blanch for two minutes in boiling water.
- Thinly slice the scallions.
- Whisk up the dressing ingredients: mayo, rice vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Toss everything together and chill the potato salad until you're ready to serve it.
You can make this Japanese potato salad up to a day ahead and keep it covered in the fridge. It will last for several days in the fridge but the veggies are at their crispest and best if eaten within 24 hours.
Best mayo for Japanese Potato Salad
Let's talk about mayo for a minutes. Japanese Potato Salad is traditionally made with Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise which is sweeter and tangier than American Mayo. You can find it at Asian grocers or on Amazon. The problem for me is that MSG is a key ingredient in Kewpie Mayo. I'm sure the MSG adds a delicious punch of umami flavor to the mix but many people have an averse reaction to MSG.
I opted for good old Hellmann's Mayonnaise and I am thrilled with the outcome. If you go with Hellmann's and you want a bit more sweetness or tang, add an additional teaspoon or two of rice vinegar and sugar to the dressing.
Interested in trying other potato salad recipes from around the globe?
For a delicious mayo-free Potato Salad try this French Potato Salad or for something unique and festive, try this bright pink Estonian Potato and Beet Salad.
Here's the recipe for Japanese Potato Salad. If you try this recipe I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print
Japanese Potato Salad
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 1x
Japanese potato salad: a creamy potato salad of partially mashed potatoes dotted with crunchy carrots, cucumbers and scallions, and tossed with a zesty mustard-vinegar-mayo dressing. A great side dish for picnics, summer grilling and the outdoor entertaining season.
For The Potatoes and Vegetables
- 2 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 4 or 5 equal sized chunks.
- ½ of a small English cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out with a small spoon, each half sliced lengthwise and then thinly sliced crosswise.
- 1 large carrot, peeled, sliced into halves or quarters lengthwise (depending on the thickness) and then thinly sliced crosswise.
- 4-5 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise
For The Dressing
- ⅔ cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann's but see notes)
- 2 tablespoon Japanese rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon spicy English mustard or Karashi (Japanese spicy mustard)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Maldon salt or more, to taste (or any sea salt or coarse salt)
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
- Place the potatoes and one teaspoon of salt in a pot and cover with cold water by by an inch. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. Drain potatoes in a colander. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl and let them cool for 15 minutes or so.
- Blanch sliced carrots in salted boiling water for 2 minutes to soften them a bit. Drain carrots in a colander and run under cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Let them sit in the colander for a few minutes, until dry.
- Whisk all the dressing ingredients: Mayo, vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper.
- Mash the potatoes with a fork, leaving some small chunks for texture. Add carrots, cucumbers, scallions and half the dressing to the bowl. Toss gently to combine. Add more dressing, tossing, until you get the desired consistency. You may not need all the dressing. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill until ready to serve. The salad can be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge.
Scraping the seeds out of the cucumbers is an important step because the seeds are very watery and will make your salad soggy.
Authentic Japanese potato salad calls for Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise but because MSG is a key ingredient in Kewpie Mayo and many people are sensitive to MSG, I've chosen to use Hellmann's Mayo instead. I'm extremely happy with the flavors using Hellmann's but feel free to substitute Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise if you like.
[This post first appeared on Panning The Globe in May 2018. It was updated in May 2020 with new photos and a few tweaks to the written post.]
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Japanese
Keywords: Japanese style potato salad with carrots cucumber and scallions
About MSG: it's just salt. People who eat potato chips, tortilla chips, and at American restaurants like Burger King, Outback Steakhouse, Carrows, etc. unknowingly, yet regularly consume MSG without any issues.
MSG is not just Salt Ash. Salt is solely Sodium Chloride whereas MSG is composed of Sodium and Glutamic Acid. They are completely different in taste as well. Salt has many different uses & is not just a flavor enhancer but MSG is only used as a flavor enhancer. Salt is salty & MSG has an umami taste. Yes, MSG is used in many FF Restaurants & is found in many unhealthy junk foods too but it's also used in fine dining places as well. It's naturally found in many foods, ex: Kombu & Tomatoes. MSG is safe unless you are not using it in moderation & consume large quantities of it everyday (IMO it's much safer to use MSG then regular table salt)..
Fantastic and easy to make! Just like my Grandma Toyo used to make!
Thanks Jen 🙂
I cook a great deal of Japanese foods. I lived in Japan for a combined total of 14 years of my life, back and forth from the time I was a small child. I also have the luxury of speaking Japanese fluently which allows me to have extensive conversations with Japanese Chefs.
Your recipe for the smooth potato salad is great! Your notes reflect the awesomeness of using Kewpie Mayonnaise if you can stand the MSG. (I can!). Kewpie Mayonnaise has a very distinct and unique flavor that enhances a number of Japanese recipes. I also use it in some of my Western dishes when provides just the right oomph!
For your readers that want to try, it is now available on Amazon and I’ll leave it to you to provide YOUR affiliate link to the products there.
Cheers, and Bon Appetit!
Absolutely love it. Thank you and enjoy your day 🙂
This is the best potato salad I’ve ever had. Better than warm German, even. I thought there was no mayonnaise at all, maybe the rice vinegar calms it down? Anyway, taste, texture, everything about this is fantastic! We’ll make it!
I'm thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the potato salad so much Matt. It's my favorite too! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.
WOW this salad looks and sounds so delicious!
Thanks! I love it. Let me know what you think if you try it.