This smooth and creamy potato salad is packed with crunchy carrots, refreshing cucumber and crispy bacon then seasoned with Japanese condiments to make it the ultimate crowd pleaser! It's perfect for parties, sides or bentos!
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Potato salad might not spring to mind when you think of Japanese cuisine, but it's one of the most popular side dishes in Japan and has been around for more than 100 years!
You'll often see it in bento boxes, served with fried dishes like karaage (fried chicken) or even used as a sandwich filling! (Who doesn't love a bit of double carbs?!)
Japanese potato salad
Potato salad is a worldwide dish and most countries have their own twist on this classic recipe, Japan is no different in that respect.
While Western style potato salad is often quite chunky and flavoured with vinegar, bacon and herbs, Japanese potato salad is smoother, creamier and contains more crunchy vegetables. It's also flavoured with condiments like mayonnaise, rather than herbs.
Ingredients you can use in Japanese potato salad
Japanese potato salad is actually a very colourful and versatile dish. So many different ingredients can be added and every home makes it differently.
It can contain any of the following ingredients:
- Mashed potatoes
- Sweet corn
- Boiled egg
If I'm being honest, I hated potato salad growing up. That's because it always contains raw onion and that was my most hated food as a kid!
My tastes have matured since then, but I still omit onions when I make potato salad. That's one of the reasons why I like homemade potato salad the best! You can make it to suit your tastes.
An Izakaya (居酒屋) is a place that serves food and alcoholic drinks, a bit like a Japanese version of a bar or pub.
Munching and drinking are equally important there and dishes are usually served as tapas (small dish) style.
Izakaya style potato salad?
You might be surprised to find that there are quite a lot of izakayas that serve potato salad!
To give it a more "adult" taste, this recipe uses bacon rather than ham and is seasoned generously with pepper, making it a little bit spicy.
It's easy and quick so it will be good as snacky salad with your beer as well as a suitable side for many dishes!
Tips and Tricks for making the best Japanese Potato Salad
Your Japanese potato salad is sure to be a crowd pleaser if you follow these simple tips!
Use starchy potatoes
If you're used to making American or European style potato salad, this might go against everything you know, but Japanese potato salad is better made with starchy potatoes.
Japanese potato salad is smooth, creamy and doesn't contain chunks of potato. Essentially, the aim is to make a creamy mash and then add the other ingredients. This is one of the elements that makes Japanese potato salad different to Western style so it's pretty important!
Cut the potatoes
This is an obvious one, but cut your potatoes in halves or quarters to help them cook faster.
Start with cold water
If you throw your potatoes into hot water, the outside cooks too quickly and will start to break off before the middle is cooked.
To ensure even cooking, place your potatoes in cold water and bring to the boil. Make sure to salt your water to flavour the potatoes too.
Boil the carrots
Carrots are very crunchy so to soften them slightly, I let them boil in the pot with the potatoes for a while. This also releases some of the sweetness, so boiling the carrots for a little while improves both texture and taste.
Use Japanese Mayonnaise
To give your potato salad an authentic Japanese taste, I highly recommend using Japanese mayonnaise "Kewpie". You can purchase it here on Amazon.
Japanese potato salad is usually served chilled.
If you have time, let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. This will allow the flavours to deepen, resulting in an even tastier potato salad!