I love Japanese potato salad, I cannot stop trying to gild the lily. The last time I made this dish it was still lacking something, I tossed out some ingredients and added others. Being a Californian, there is one addition that I knew would make this creamy salad better, avocado!
An important feature of this dish is the Japanese mayonnaise, which simply tastes better than most European/American brands. A commonly available Japanese mayonnaise is Kewpie brand. But what makes this mayo so different from Western mayonnaise? There is a lot of Internet speculation about the subject, but according to Serious Eats there are several differences—they use vegetable oil vs. canola or olive oils; they use egg yolks only and a greater number of them vs. whole eggs; they also use rice vinegar vs. white vinegar. Three additional ingredients are dashi, malt vinegar, and MSG. These difference make for a very creamy and tangy sauce.
Karl’s Japanese Potato Salad with Avocado
2 medium yellow potatoes
2 green onions, sliced finely
½ cup red bell pepper, diced finely
1 stalk celery, diced finely
1 Tbs. rice vinegar, unseasoned
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼-⅓ cup Japanese mayonnaise
1 medium avocado, diced
1. Peel and cut the potatoes into medium chunks.
2. Place the potatoes in to a pot with water to cover.
3. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.
Tip: The potatoes are done when a knife easily pierces the thickest potato chunk.
Note: An energy saving trick is to remove the post from the heat after 10 minutes and to leave the pot, covered, for an additionally 20 minutes. The heat of the water will finish cooking the potatoes.
4. Drain the potatoes well.
5. Use a large whisk to partly mash the potatoes.
Tip: You want about a 50/50 ratio of mash to medium/small potato chunks.
6. Add the remaining ingredients—except for the avocado—and fold in the Japanese mayonnaise.
Tip: If you add the avocado at this point the pieces will be mashed into a cream. They might also start to turn brown. It is best to fold them in at the last minute.
Note: Add as much mayonnaise as you need to, in order reach your desired consistency, but do not overwork the potatoes, as they may turn “gluey.”
7. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and let it meld, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
8. Just before serving, pit and dice the avocado.
9. Gently fold the avocado pieces into the salad and serve immediately.
Tip: You may garnish the potato salad with black sesame seeds, or finely sliced green onion tops, or my daughter’s favorite, a serious sprinkle of shichimi tōgarashi.