Japanese Potato Salad

Everyone loves a good potato salad, and almost everyone has different preferences on how they like theirs. The Japanese like their potato salad a little bit more on the mashed side, the consistency usually leans more chunky mashed taters rather than cubed potatoes. There are ingredients that might be new to the average home cook, so please check the notes detailing the ingredients below. This recipe also calls for cooked shrimp, this is not a traditional ingredient but I love the way it adds extra umami and depth of flavor to the salad.


4 large potatoes (starchy like Russet or Yukon gold), around 2 lbs
½ English cucumber (seedless), minced
½ cup carrots, minced
2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1 cup shrimp, cooked, deveined, and roughly chopped (optional)
1 cup Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise *
2 tbsp white vinegar
pinch of hondashi (granules) **
1 tsp yuzu ***
1 tsp Shichimi togarashi powder ****
¼ cup sliced spring onion (scallions)
1 tbsp  Japanese furikake *****
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Season water generously with salt. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until easily pierced with a toothpick. 
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, place the minced cucumbers and carrots in a bowl and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes. This process extracts extra moisture from the vegetables and helps prevent your salad from getting soggy or water logged. Drain the liquid and gently squeeze the vegetables to discard any excess liquid.
  3. Drain the cooked potatoes and allow them to cool slightly. Use a fork or your hands to peel potato skins (a tea towel will help with holding the warm potatoes). Cut the peeled potato into small rough chunks.
  4. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and roughly mash them, take extra care to still leave some chunky bits. Add the carrots, cucumber, onions, eggs, scallions, and shrimp.
  5. In a separate smaller bowl, mix the Kewpie mayonnaise and white vinegar thoroughly. Add the hondashi and togarashi once the mayo and vinegar has emulsified. Stir until the hondashi pellets have completely dissolved. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Pour the mayo mixture unto the potatoes and mix thoroughly. Chill for 1-2 hours. Top with furikake right before serving.


* Kewpie mayo is uses only egg yolks as oppose to whole eggs like their American counterpart, which makes them creamier. It is also sweeter and has a slight umami flavor to them which makes them a very versatile condiment to have in the kitchen. You can find them in any Asian grocery store, and lately more and more mainstream grocers carry them too.

** Hondashi is the base for a lot Japanese dishes, it is made from a smoked and dried fish called bonito. It infuses food with a subtle seafood flavor and a good dose of umami. When using the pellets, a little goes a long way.

*** Yuzu is a sour Japanese citrus fruit, used both for its juice and its aromatic rind. It is often sold as juice or concentrate, jam or marmalade, or as part of a dressing. Trader Joe’s sells Yuzu Hot Sauce and it works well for recipes that calls for yuzu. However as the name implies, it is a hot sauce albeit a yuzu flavored one, so keep that in mind when using it on recipes which calls for additional heat.

**** Shichimi togarashi powder is a Japanese spice mixture typically containing red chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed. Take extra care not to buy those that are labeled ichi-mi tōgarashi, which is simply ground red chili pepper.

***** Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of cooked rice, vegetables, and fish. It typically consists of a mixture of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate. In Asian groceries, you can usually find several variations such as Ebi Fumi, Katsuo Fumi, Nori Fumi, Noritamago, Salmon, Seto Fumi, Shiso Fumi, and Wasabi Fumi. Details of each varieties can be found here.

Other than the yuzu, the ingredients listed above are readily available at any Asian grocery. Kewpie mayo has been sold at major grocers for a while now. The yuzu I’ve been using is from my trip to Japan, and unfortunately I haven’t found an equivalent stateside.

L-R: my culinary dream team; Togarashi, Hon Dashi, Yuzu, and Furikake

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