Grocery Guide: Japanese Mayo

I loathed mayonnaise for an entire childhood, but was mistaken. Miracle Whip was the vile family culprit. No great loss, as there's not a lot of kid food that requires mayonnaise anyway.

As an adult, I was still wary of any jar of white stuff with Kraft on the label, so I chose Hellman's. It would've been a lifetime loyalty, but I married a girl who'd lived in Tokyo for a year, and she turned me on to Kewpie, the Japanese favorite in a soft, lascivious-feeling plastic squeeze bottle.

What makes it so special? Kewpie is made with egg yolks and rice vinegar, rather than whole eggs and distilled vinegar, so it has a richer, tangier taste. It also has that umami thing from a small dose of monosodium glutamate.

We use it for a dip for vegetables, like broccoli, and for French fries, chicken nuggets, and sautéed asparagus. A squirt added to vinegar and oil makes an instant salad dressing. The Kewpie bottle has a star-shaped opening at the top, so the mayo squeezes out with a decorative flair.

Our favorite use is for tuna salad, and remarkably simple and tasty egg salad.

Egg Salad Cover two eggs with cold water in a pan, and bring to a boil, covered. Turn the heat to low, and cook eggs 13 minutes. Remove eggs and put them into cold tap water to cool.

After you peel the eggs, smash them coarsely with a fork. The eggs yolks should be bright yellow with none of that hideous green coating. Add 1½ to 2 tablespoons of Kewpie, salt, and pepper. Mix. That's all.

Kewpie mayonnaise is available at Nippon Daido, Dun Huang, and Central Market.

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