Creamy, delicious Japanese Potato Salad made easy at home. Elevate a regular potato salad recipe to an izakaya or restaurant style in no time! Fresh and full of flavour, this simple Japanese potato salad recipe is the perfect way to get the family eating more vegetables!
Japanese Potato Salad
As the most popular salad in the nation, Japanese potato salad is an iconic national food. This fluffy creamy potato salad is often served at an izakaya (bar) or restaurants as an appetizer and enjoyed with cold beer or sake. You can also find it as part of a potato salad sandwich at cafes, or in a bento box.
Kids and adults alike love homemade potato salad in Japan! There are almost as many potato salad recipes in the country as there are households.
I love potato salad and have eaten it since I was a child. Of course, I believed my mother’s potato salad was the best in the world. But I’ve been working on perfecting it to make the best Japanese potato salad you’ve ever tasted!
So read on and I’ll show you how to make Japanese potato salad today! Bring joy in your life and share it with loved ones!
What is Japanese potato salad?
Japanese potato salad is often called pote sala. Unlike warm German potato salad, Japanese potato salad is chilled in the fridge and is served cold. It’s often enjoyed with sliced cucumbers and carrots, as well as finely chopped hard boiled eggs.
Japanese potato salad tastes like fresh fluffy and creamy deliciousness. It’s soft and moreish. Finely sliced fresh vegetables are packed with flavourful (almost mashed) potatoes. Unlike sour cream potato salad, the distinct feature of Japanese style potato salad is the use of Kewpie Mayonnaise.
The best potato for Japanese potato salad
We use danshaku imo, particulary the Hokkaido potato variety, which is produced in the northern part of Japan, Hokkaido. They are the best for Japanese mashed potato salad.
This Japanese potato can be replaced with Russet Burbank potato, which is largely available in the US, and Canada.
For British readers, King Edward or Maris Piper potato are the best. I used to buy them at Sainsbury’s and made this Japanese potato salad.
In Australia, Kipfler potatoes work really well. Floury potatoes are good for this recipe.
Ingredients for Japanese potato salad
Kewpie Mayo is a rich, smooth and creamy egg yolk type mayonnaise. It’s widely available around the globe these days. When people talk about mayonnaise in Japan, they alway mean Kewpie.
If you aren’t able to find it, no problem. I added the link in the recipe card. You can make your very own Kewpie Mayo at home.
Japanese rice vinegar is milder than Western white vinegar and is slightly sweetened. It’s easily available at the local Japanese shops, online or quite often in a standard supermarket. I use no additives, pure Japanese rice vinegar from Marukan.
Japanese cucumber is used for this potato salad. You can replace it with Lebanese cucumber (they have minimal seeds). If you use English or hot cucumber, remove the seeds.
How to Make Japanese Potato Salad
This Japanese potato salad recipe is really straightforward. Here’s a few tips.
Do you boil potatoes with skin or not?
I know that some people think that potatoes should be cooked with skin, but for me it just adds to the cooking time, with no real benefit to the taste.
To save your time, peel the skin off, cut it into around six pieces, and cook. Cook them from cold water, and add sugar for thickening the flavour. This is a pro tip!
Remove excess water
Let onion slices soak in water. This removes bitterness. After draining the water, dry the onions with kitchen paper.
Add a pinch of salt to sliced cucumbers and carrots and leave them for a few minutes. They’ll release moisture. Remove this with kitchen paper.
Pro tips!: Removing the excess water from the vegetables is important and helps elevate your potato salad to the next level!
Making potatoes ‘floury’
This section is important. These tips can improve the flavour and taste of potato salad dramatically.
After the potatoes are cooked, drain boiled water out of the pan, but keep the cooked potatoes there. Add heat and remove any excess water from the potatoes. They’ll become ‘floury’ on the surfaces. That’s what you want and is the key to Japanese potato salad.
While the potatoes are still hot, season them with a pinch of salt and rice vinegar. Then add sliced onions.
Potato salad sauce
Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small container. This can help the salad to be seasoned evenly.
Ensure the potatoes are cooled down and then add the sauce and combine it with the potatoes. If potatoes are still hot, mayonnaise may be separated. Next, add sliced cucumbers, carrots and chopped eggs. Combine all.
Mix the potatoes in the pan, but avoid over mixing. If you do, it’ll release too much starch overly released. No one likes the ‘gluey’ texture in potato salad.
That’s it! Serve immediately. Enjoy!
How long does Japanese potato salad last
This Japanese potato salad can be enjoyed as soon as it’s made. What I enjoy the most is to cool it down in the fridge for an hour. If it’s next day, the texture and flavour gets better.
Keep this potato salad in the air tight container for up to five days in the fridge.
Side Dish recipes
Japanese Potato Salad Recipe
- ¼ onion (40g)
- ½ Japanese cucumber (50g: or Lebanese cucumber)
- ¼ carrot (40g)
- 2 hard boiled eggs (medium size)
- 3 medium potatoes (note 1) (1 pound, 1.1 lb, 500g)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Japanese potato salad sauce
- 4 tablespoons Kewpie Mayo (or homemade Japanese mayo)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ½ tablespoon Japanese mastered (or Dijon mastered)
- ⅛ tablespoon ground white pepper
- ¼ tablespoon sea salt
- Thinly slice onions and leave them in water. Set aside.
- Thinly slice a cucumber. Thinly slice the carrot. Then cut again, if necessary, to make them into half inch slices. Place them in a container and add a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Drain water from the onion slices, and remove the moisture with a kitchen towel. Set aside.
- Remove water from the container with cucumber and carrot slices. Then pat them dry with a kitchen towel. (note 2)
- Remove potato skins, and cut the potatoes into six.
- Place the potatoes into a pan, add water until it covers them. Add sugar and start cooking for about ten minutes. (note 3)
- Once potatoes are cooked, drain the boiled water while keeping the potatoes in the pan.
- Add medium heat and remove the excess water out of the potatoes while shaking the pan. Potatoes then become 'floury' on surface. Turn off the heat.
- Cut the potatoes into half with a spatula. Add a pinch of salt and rice vinegar. Stair the potatoes with spatula for three times.
- Then add the sliced onions while the potatoes are still hot, and mix. Set aside, and allow to cool down.
Potato salad sauce
- Add mayonnaise, rice vinegar, mustared, ground white pepper and salt in a small container and mix them up throughly.
- Make sure that the potato mix is cooled down. Pour the sauce over the potatoes, and mix it up with potatoes. Add cucumber, carrot and eggs. Combine all but avoid over mixing.That's it! Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Traditionally Japanese potato, danshaku imo, is used for this recipe. Russet Burbank potatoes are similar to it, and are available in the US and Canada, and Kipfler potatoes in Australia. For British readers, King Edward or Maris Piper potato are the best. I used to buy them at Sainsbury’s and made this Japanese potato salad.
- Moisture is drawn out of the cucumber and carrot slices because of the salt added to them.
- The potato will be soft all the way through if you pierce it with a skewer. But it should still have some structure.