A while back, I attended Ami Yamashita’s (wife of Chef Yamashita) book launch for her new recipe book which features typical Japanese homecooked dishes. These are not your typical famous Japanese restaurant dishes like ramen or sushi, but are very home style, easy to prepare every food.
Digressing, to us non-native Japanese, these homely dishes could actually be more foreign to us than we think. However, this phenomenon is similar to how foreigner are unaware of what our homecooked dishes actually are. Just think of the times where foreigners assumes we eat Hainanese chicken rice or chilli crab at home and we go like ” No???”.
During the book launch, Ami and Chef Yamashita (now assuming the role of the kitchen help instead of being the lead character) demonstrated Japanese Potato Salad, Teriyaki Chicken and Miso Soup. I thought I already understood these dishes so I certainly did not expect to learn so much from the session! She showed us how it can all be done so simply and quickly and I was instantly inspired. I decided to cook it dinner on the very same day, right after the book launch.
The potato salad was so good that it had become one of my staple dishes to whip up at home nowadays. After a few rounds of familiarizing myself with the recipe, here’s what I’ve settled with (for now)!
Hungry Bird’s Japanese Potato Salad
(Inspired by Ami Yamashita)
- 650g – 800g Russet potatoes (or Yukon Gold) (~570g – 700g after peeling)
- 2 Japanese cucumbers
- 80g Frozen sweet corn
- 1 Carrot (~130g)
- 80g Ham*
- 2 Boiled eggs – optional
- 140 – 170g Kewpie Mayonnaise^
- 2 tsp Mustard
- A splash of Japanese rice vinegar (~2tsp) – optional
*For ham, I’ve used both Black Forest Ham and Applewood Ham – both were good. Ham with smokey flavour works best.
^Please only use Kewpie Mayonnaise and not anything else. The amount of mayonnaise will be proportionate to amount of potatoes and you should use my recipe as only a guide and adjust it to taste. If you like your potato salad to have higher ratio of potatoes to other ingredients, you can scale the recipe up for 1kg. Otherwise, you can use less of it. Most supermarkets in Singapore sells potatoes in 1kg bags so this is could be the most convenient amount to use. You can buy the Kewpie Mayonnaise (450g) from Donki for only $4! They have a different packaging too which says “Japanese style” (310g) going for $4.90 but this is actually the same as the $4 version, only different packaging for different regional markets. Do not be fooled!
1. Peel the skin of potatoes and chop them into pieces. Place all potatoes in a big pot and add water. Add in a few pinches of salt. Boil the water together with potatoes. When water comes to a boil, set the timer for 15 minutes.
2. While potatoes are boiling, slice the cucumbers thinly with a mandoline slicer. In a bowl, add in generous amount of salt – 2 – 3tsp or more. Rub in salt evenly and allow cucumbers to stand for 20 – 30mins.
3. Slice carrots to 2mm thickness and chop the carrots into quarter moon shape.
4. Soften the carrots by either boiling or microwave on high in a bowl of water for 3 minutes.
5. Cut ham into 1cm squares. Smaller is better than bigger.
6. Boil sweet corn and set aside.
7. Boil eggs in boiling water for 12 minutes. Chop into small pieces using a egg slicer 3 ways.
8. When potatoes are ready, drain the water and place them in a large bowl. While still warm, add in Kewpie mayonnaise, mustard and rice vinegar. Add salt and pepper to season. Mash up potatoes evenly with a force or potato masher. Set aside.
9. The salt will draw out moisture from the cucumbers and it will end up looking like pickled cucumbers. After 30 minutes, drain the cucumbers well by pouring out the water, squeezing the cucumbers through a strainer and then patting them try with kitchen towel. You want as much moisture as possible to be removed for the best crunchy texture.
10. Combine all ingredients together. Keep in the refrigerator and serve chilled.
As this is a salad, you can vary the amount of ingredients and seasoning to your liking. You can also add in shredded lettuce or onions.
I personally think it still tastes good the next day so this is something you can make ahead.
It is a convenient bento item as well, because you can make it ahead and pack it for lunch the next morning!