I must have been so used to the way how Japanese make their potato salad, I haven’t tried making others for a while. How do you like your potato salad to be done? In crunchy chunks, the smooth fluffy mashed ones or something in between? Japanese potato salad, poteto-sarada ポテトサラダ is that something in between – slightly dense but smooth and creamy. Plus those tiny chunks of unmashed potato, it gives a greater sense of natural homemade taste. You see them often with your Tonkatsu or Ebi-fry set meals, whereas Japanese mothers diligently pack them into children’s school obento or picnic lunch boxes.
Au gratin dish in petite-size made by Kodo Kiyooka 清岡 幸道, a famous potter in Shigaraki 信楽町 area. One distinctive shape and bend-up side handle feature, this handmade signature workpiece is a hot favourite and sold out really quickly.
The best time to have potato salad is Summer! We can’t go without it, can we? As we’re all heading out for BBQ or potluck gatherings, of course we want something easy-peasy and not tire ourselves out during this warm season. Potato salad is surely one ideal dish, quick to make and always satisfy big crowds. This is why I’ve been sticking to Japanese potato salad. Steam and mash the potatoes, cut and slice the vegetables and combine all together with creamy Japanese mayonnaise. Only 3 easy steps and I can get away with this heavenly creamy, lotsa-vegetables starter dish, I really can’t ask for more…!
Apart from potatoes, most recipes call for onion, cucumber, carrot and ham as recommended ingredients. However, as busy mothers we have got to be flexible, so just feel free to throw in whatever vegetables you can find in your fridge and whip up your original Japanese potato salad swiftly with no fuss. But bear in mind, Japanese mayonnaise is a must so as to achieve that satisfyingly rich, creamy texture.
Japanese potato salad
for a 4 person’s share
Prep time 10-15mins, cook time 15-20 mins
4-5 medium-sized potatoes (500g)
1/4 of onion (50g)
1/3 of carrot (20-30g)
1/3 of Japanese cucumber (20-30g)
One small portion of red cabbage (10-20g) *
One small handful of corns
5 Tbsp of Japanese mayonnaise
1 tsp of Japanese wasabi or Djorn mustard
A small pinch of salt and pepper to taste
* To make this a vegan dish, I replaced ham with red cabbage.
1-Prepare a pot of boiling water.
Fill a pot one-third with water and put on the steamer. Bring water to boil over high heat. When you see steam and water bubbling from the pot, it’s ready to get started.
Wash and gently scrub away soil and impurities from the potatoes. Keeping its skin on, scatter washed potatoes over the steamer. Replace the lid and reduce heat to medium. Steam for 15-20 minutes.
Cut remaining vegetables while steaming the potatoes. Wash and remove the skin of carrot, then cut them into thin slices. Do likewise for onion, cucumber and cabbage. You can also use a mandoline slicer. Mandoline slicer is a convenient tool that cuts vegetables to uniform thickness in a quicker way. After slicing the cabbage, give it a quick wash then pat dry.
4-Soak in salt water.
Soak sliced onions and cucumbers in bowls of salt water for about 10-15mins. Salt water helps to remove pungency and enhance sweetness in onions, while cucumbers get extra crispy.
Insert a fork into potatoes to check if they have softened. Once ready, remove from steamer. Peel off skin while the potatoes are still warm. It’s easier. Then mash them up using a potato masher.
6-Mix all together well and serve.
In the same bowl with mashed potatoes, add in onions and cucumbers minus the soaking water. Next throw in corns and carrots, plus strands of cabbage. Mix everything well together with mayonnaise and wasabi. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper to complete the taste.
Don’t worry if you haven’t tried wasabi before, you can always opt it out completely or replace with Djorn mustard. Wasabi has an extremely strong flavour and its hotness is more like a very hot mustard. It is an acquired taste, so it may not be easy for first timers.
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