Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise
Kewpie mayo is the secret ingredient many professional chefs use to boost the flavor and umami of their dishes. When you think of Japanese cuisine, you probably don't think of mayonnaise, but this condiment is widely used in Japan in both Japanese and western food.
A little history of Kewpie mayonnaise
Mayonnaise was introduced to Japan in 1925 by Toichiro Nakashima. Mr Nakashima learned about mayonnaise while studying agriculture and commerce in the United States. He returned to Japan with a jar of American mayonnaise and soon started his company that eventually was named Kewpie, after his most popular product. Today, 90 years later, Kewpie holds 70% of the Japanese mayonnaise market. Kewpie is phenomenally popular in Japan. Japanese mayonnaise is used on both traditional Japanese food (noodles, sushi, karage) as well as Western cuisine. People who really really love Japanese mayonnaise have a special name "Mayora." Japan even has a museum dedicated to mayonnaise.
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What makes Japanese mayonnaise different?
Kewpie mayonnaise is smoother, creamier, tarter and just plain tastier than American mayonnaise. David Chang of Momofuku in New York City calls Kewpie mayonnaise "the best mayonnaise in the world." Kewpie comes in a squeezable plastic container and is double wrapped in a clear bag that displays a Kewpie doll. Three ingredients make Japanese mayonnaise different from American mayonnaise: 1) Kewpie is made with egg yolks, whereas American mayonnaise is made with whole eggs. 2) Kewpie is made with a proprietary blend of apple and malt vinegar. American mayonnaise is typically made with distilled vinegar. 3) Kewpie has a touch of MSG, which boosts umami, the 5th taste. If you want to learn more about umami, check out my post.
How to use Kewpie
You can use Kewpie simply to replace American mayonnaise on sandwiches, burgers, egg salad, tuna salad, potato salad, etc. In Japan it is used to dip vegetables and garnish pizza. But don't stop there. Kewpie can be added to salad dressing to boost flavor and help emulsify oil and vinegar, as I do for my Kale, broccoli and tomato Caesar salad. Taste the dressing before you add Kewpie and after. You will see the difference. Kewpie can be used to make all kinds of flavorful dipping sauces. Kewpie is mixed with sriracha to make the "dynamite" condiment used in spicy sushi. Kewpie loves wasabi, miso, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and karashi, a Japanese hot mustard. Use these additions to make flavorful dipping sauces.
Kewpie has two dispensing spouts:
Small round spout
A small round spout is located under the top of the red cap. This spout is used to garnish with fine lines of mayonnaise. You can even write your name.
Large star-shaped spout
Remove the red cap and there is a larger star-shaped hole that is used to dispense larger amounts of mayonnaise in a neat star-shaped pattern. It is like having a built-in pastry bag in your mayonnaise bottle.
Where to buy Kewpie mayo
You can purchase Kewpie mayo at most Asian markets or you can buy it here online.
One more thing
My dog Chubby was recently sick and inexplicitly stopped eating. She lost four pounds in about a week and my vet was very worried about her. To try and get her to eat I made her some poached chicken and rice. While cooking the chicken and rice I was in the process of writing this post and on a whim I added a small spoonful of Kewpie mayo. It was magic. Chubby cleaned her bowl for the first time in a week. Afterwards I started to second guess the wisdom of giving a dog anything with MSG in it. I searched online and found vets sometimes prescribe a little MSG for another dog problem that is frankly too gross to write about on a cooking site. I wouldn't make Kewpie a regular addition to a dog's diet, but in a pinch, it worked for Chubby.