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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.

Dispensing tricks

Kewpie has two dispensing spouts:

Small round spout

Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise | Something New For Dinner

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.

Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise | Something New For Dinner

Large star-shaped spout

Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise | Something New For Dinner

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.

Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise | Something New For Dinner

Where to buy Kewpie mayo

You can purchase Kewpie mayo at most Asian markets or you can buy it here online.

One more thing

Kewpie Japanese Mayonnaise | Something New For Dinner

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.

12 COMMENTS

Comments

  1. Carla says:

    I typically enjoy your new recipes each week but this week, I have to take issue with your promotion of Kewpie Mayonnaise and its ingredients.

    Do you realize that MSG is one of the top five most harmful food additives? And that 40% of the population has a sensitivity to it?

    How about using a healthier alternative to getting that umami flavor, like miso or anchovy paste? It’d be a lot healthier than using any kind of mayo and would eliminate the problem of MSG.

    Information on the very real dangers of MSG comes from Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon and author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.” In it he explains that MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees — and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more. It’s also know as the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome ingredient for the awful way many people feel after eating Chinese food.

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Carla,

      Thank you for writing in. I am sure there were many readers wondering why I included a product with MSG in my Kale, broccoli & tomato Caesar salad recipe. I realize MSG is a controversial ingredient that many people have concerns with. 19 years ago, when Dr. Baylock published his book, MSG was a big concern for many people, me included. Since that time there has been new research that has failed to link MSG with deleterious health issues. Please see this article that sums up some of this research. http://www.sciencefriday.com/blogs/10/02/2014/is-msg-bad-for-your-health.html?series=28

      That said, I am not advocating anyone eat anything they are not comfortable with. Because MSG is controversial, I added Kewpie mayonnaise as an optional ingredient. My Caesar salad dressing is great without the added mayonnaise, which is the way I have been making it for years. As you suggest, I use several ingredients to boost the umami flavor, including anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmigiano Reggiano. The addition of 1 teaspoon of Kewpie makes the dressing creamier, and in my opinion, just a little tastier.

      One of the things I try to do with Something New For Dinner is to expose people to interesting ingredients and to provide the latest information on nutrition and health. Kewpie mayonnaise, with MSG, hit on both points. There is a large number of Japanese mayonnaise fans and there is new research on the health effects of MSG. In the end, the choice is yours and I respect your choice.

  2. Autumn says:

    Really cool information! Thanks for sharing

    1. Kim says:

      Glad you liked it Autumn.

  3. Yoshi says:

    Kewpie is the best. I love it so much I even made a homage T shirt design on redbubble for kewpie fans. My favourite is using it on okonomiyaki or using it to make Japanese style potatoe salad. The MSG thing is the only thing that makes me use it in small portions. 🙂

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Yoshi. Thank you for writing in. I will have to try okonomiyaki. It looks like a great technique to incorporate a lot of different ingredients. As for the MSG in Kewpie, it does give a lot of people pause. Recent science on MSG has made me reconsider whether MSG is as harmful as once thought. See article I mention in earlier post.

  4. Rich Ormsby says:

    Kewpie is great. “Turns a sandwich into a banquet” and is great on almost anything else. Try Kewpie mixed with Tabasco on deep fried foods, and even french fries.

    My wife is Japanese and yes, she uses it in the traditional Japanese potato salad that Yoshi san mentioned above. In some of the Okonomiyaki places in Japan they actually leave a tube of Kewpie there for you to add as desired.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Thank you for the Kewpie and Tabasco tips Rich. I know there are all kinds of great ways to use this delicious condiment that I have not discovered yet.

  5. Sarah says:

    Hi, I enjoyed this post and appreciated your commonsense thoughts about MSG! We enjoy Kewpie but it drives me nuts the way the bottle ” collapses” once it is less than half full. I can’t i magine the Japanese put up with this and I’m surethey have some cute, beautifully desgned mayo dispenser solution!? Can you enlighten us please?
    Thanks

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I really like Kewpie mayo too, but do not have a fix for the collapsing bottle. Please let us know if you figure something out.

  6. Kate Henry says:

    Regarding the comment about the dangers of MSG. Apparently recent research shows that MSG isn’t as big of a problem as people thought. That brought to mind the fact that scientists once said that coconut oil and eggs were evil incarnate for diets. Today they say both are very good for our health! My how things change.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Kate, I agree with you entirely. The science behind our dietary guidelines has been woefully lacking with many of the recommendations being strongly influenced by lobbyists and industry. I hope the day comes when science is our guiding light. In the meantime, our best bet is to focus on whole foods.

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