As you start to learn about Japanese cuisine you will most likely begin to hear about how special Japanese mayonnaise (マヨネーズ) is. From famous cooks to Japanese individuals living abroad, many flock to Asian supermarkets in search of Japanese mayonnaise - I have been known to drive 50+ miles (80+ kms) to an Asian supermarket if I run out. But why is it so popular?
Difference between Japanese and Western mayonnaise
When it comes to appearance, Japanese mayonnaise is more yellow compared to the light colored Western mayonnaises. In addition, as you pour the mayo, you will notice a creamier consistency and thicker texture. In terms of taste, Japanese mayonnaise has a rich egg flavor and is slightly sweeter than Western mayo. Japanese mayonnaise has been described as having both a tangy and sweet flavor and is high in umami.
These differences in appearance and taste come from significant differences in standard mayonnaise ingredients:
The creamier texture of Japanese mayonnaise comes from the use of only the egg yolk rather than the entire egg. Combined with the darker yolks of standard Japanese eggs, the lack of egg white in Japanese mayonnaise leads it to have a consistency that has been known to convert mayonnaise haters into lovers.
Instead of using distilled vinegar which has a sharp flavor, Japanese mayonnaise calls for either apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar. These softer vinegars allow flavors of other ingredients to come through in the mayonnaise.
Finally, some of the most well known Japanese brands add MSG to give the mayo an added kick of umami. But MSG-free dashi powder (such as our Soda Bushi Dashi Powder) can help to add the same deep umami flavor.
These details that make Japanese mayonnaise unique have led to a global cult following. If you have the opportunity, try adding Japanese mayonnaise to traditional Japanese dishes such as okonomiyaki to more western foods such as salads and sandwiches. Or doing a blind tasting of Japanese and Western mayonnaises to see which you prefer!
Hi All! I am Miriam Weiss and am a mixed race Japanese/American passionate about promoting Japanese culture and all that it has to offer around the world. I grew up between Japan and California and was most recently living in Boston before moving to the Netherlands! I am excited to share my passion and knowledge with all of you!