When you think of Japan, you may not think of side dishes like potato salad at first. But, Japanese Potato Salad, or “potesara,” has actually been around in Japanese cuisine for over 100 years! During the Meiji restoration, Western dishes began widely influencing Japanese cuisine, and Japan’s colorful potesara is thought to have originated sometime during that period. Today, this dish is widely enjoyed across the country as a delicious side to lunch and dinner all year round. Take a look for yourself, and consider making this dish as a fun and flavorful addition to any of your holiday meals.
Like many storied dishes, the exact origin of this dish can be disputed, but Japanese people believe that this dish was influenced by the Russian Olivier salad, which was first made by a Belgian chef in Russia. Sources date the first version of this Japanese take on the Olivier salad back to 1896, and the dish has evolved to its current colorful version over the years.
There are a few reasons why Japanese potato salad is so distinct from its Western counterparts. First, it is almost completely mashed, so it has a smoother consistency and texture. Second, some of the ingredients are uniquely Japanese, which lend to its great flavor. Last but not least, this dish features an array of colorful vegetables and deli meat, which makes you able to spot this dish from a mile away. Here are some of the most notable star ingredients:
- Kewpie Mayonnaise: This crowd pleaser may be eye-catching for its bright colors, but is largely celebrated due to its rich, tangy flavor. This is accomplished through ingredients like Japanese mayo, such as the Kewpie brand, which is higher in vinegar and tangier in flavor.
- Vegetables: Japanese people get very creative with their potato salads, and these versions tend to be very healthy due to the generous amounts of nutritious vegetables they add in. Popular veggies include carrots, peas, cucumber, onion, and broccoli, though you can really add in whatever you like!
- Japanese mustard: Karashi mustard is a hot Japanese mustard made from a mixture of mustard seeds and horseradish. It is very spicy and comes in both powder and paste forms.
Make the Best Japanese Potato Salad
Thinking about whipping up this dish for your next dinner party, or just for yourself? Here are some tips to make sure your potato salad comes out delicious:
- Make sure not to overcook the potatoes. You want to let the potatoes boil in water, and then at a simmer. Overcooking will result in a texture that falls apart instead of staying creamy.
- Remove excess moisture from ingredients. This extra step will make sure that your salad does not get too watery and will also mellow out the spices from ingredients such as onions.
- Salt your vegetables. Adding a pinch of salt to your carrots or cucumbers will keep them crunchy, which will balance the smooth texture from the potatoes.
- Get creative with your garnishes. Finish off your dish with some fresh cracked pepper, sesame, or even parmesan cheese if you want to make the dish look and taste extra appetizing.
- Chill before serving. Chilling your salad will give your salad time to settle, and absorb all of the yummy flavors you just incorporated. Chill at least one hour before serving in an airtight container.