Why Yes! Asians eat mayonnaise too! Especially Japanese and Koreans, who are probably more familiar with the Hellman’s brand than any middle class American family. Similarly, they use something called Kewpie mayonnaise, which is much akin to its western brethren, but contains a whole lot more sugar, stabilizers, and comes in a convenient squeeze bottle with a star-shaped tip. You know, for whenever you get the hankering to decorate some deli meat, or a hand roll. This ubiquitous condiment is used mainly as a binder for salads, with the most common being Korean or Japanese style potato salads. (There’s also a popular Korean fruit salad dish that uses mayo as a dressing.)
Have you ever sat down at a Korean restaurant to be happily greeted with dozens of small plates of cold dishes and snacks, even before you’ve even ordered? These are called panchan, and are usually highly seasoned, spicy/sweet and sour, to stimulate the appetite. Some more popular ones are of course, kimchi, bean sprouts salad, wheat gluten, cold cucumber salad, fried soybeans, seaweed salad, and mashed potato salad. This last dish may seem oddly out of place with all of its creamy, fatty gloriousness, but is in fact, quite common in Korean households. In a culture where most of the ingredients are fresh, healthy and discernible, I suppose they can get away with splurging on one that’s the complete opposite.
Korean Potato Salad
1 lb. potatoes
1/2 cucumber, sliced lengthwise
1/2 yellow or Spanish onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise or Kewpie
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Peel the potatoes and roughly cut into 1″ pieces. Put into a pot, cover with water and boil until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Place the carrot, whole, into the pot as well.
2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the cucumber and set aside. Slice the onion into thin rings and soak in a bowl of cold water.
3. Drain and roughly mash the potatoes, leaving some large bite-size pieces. Let cool. Dice the carrot into 1/4″ cubes. Drain and pat dry the onion slices.
4. Add the carrots, onion, cucumber, mayo, and sugar to the potatoes and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.