This Vegan Japanese Potato Salad makes the perfect side dish – it’s easy to make, irresistibly creamy, and much healthier than the traditional version!
Japanese Potato Salad is fairly similar to Western types of potato salad, but it’s made with fluffy, partially mashed potatoes mixed with cooked carrots and fresh, thinly sliced cucumber. Chopped, hard-boiled eggs and sliced ham are often added too, and the whole thing is coated in umami-rich Japanese (Kewpie) mayonnaise.
Japanese mayonnaise is different from its Western counterpart: it’s creamier, sweeter, more sour, and boasts more umami-flavour (read: contains MSG). I would describe it kind of as a hybrid between Western mayonnaise and salad cream.
Ever since posting my Vegan Spicy Miso Mayonnaise recipe, I’ve been thinking about making a vegan Japanese mayonnaise recipe, and I just knew that a traditional potato salad was the best way to start!
This vegan Japanese mayonnaise is bursting with umami flavour (the non-MSG kind), luxuriously rich and creamy, and works as a perfect coating for the fluffy potatoes and sweet carrots. It all starts with some soaked cashew nuts, which are blended until thick, creamy and irresistibly smooth. I love experimenting with soaked cashews, especially for making delicious sweet treats and savoury sauces.
Believe it or not, potato salad is a traditional Japanese side dish – it’s popular in home cooking, and ready-made versions are also widely available in supermarkets. It’s prepared ahead and eaten cold, often being added to bento boxes as a packed lunch. You’ll find it served in restaurants alongside dishes such as tempura, and you’ll sometimes see it at parties too.
I really hope you’ll love this vegan Japanese potato salad! The combination of the fluffy clouds of potato, crisp, crunchy cucumber slices and sweet carrots all enveloped in that creamy, salty-sweet-sour mayo is absolutely magical for me. One bite and I was immediately transported back to my grandmother’s house in Japan, eating her lovingly prepared potato salad, refreshingly cool on a stiflingly hot summer’s day.
I personally love making this potato because it’s so low maintenance. As it’s best made in advance and really easy to make in large batches, it’s the ideal fuss-free side dish if you’re feeding a crowd, and it’s also great for packed lunches too. Although not traditional, I added green peas for extra protein and fibre, and you can also add tinned sweetcorn. Bearing in mind the extra protein you’ll get from the cashew-based mayo, it’s pretty nutritious too!
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!
- 100g (2/3 cup) cashew nuts
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- Salt, to taste
- 500g (16oz) potatoes (use potatoes suitable for mashing), peeled and diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cucumber, very thinly sliced
- Salt, to taste
- Optional: handful of frozen green peas or tinned sweetcorn
- Soak cashews overnight in cold water or in boiling water for an hour
- Drain cashews and add to a blender or food processor along with all other ingredients
- Whizz until completely smooth, adding a tiny amount of water until the desired consistency is achieved
- Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly - more vinegar for sourness, more salt for saltiness, more maple syrup for sweetness etc
- Place potatoes and carrots (and frozen green peas if using) in a saucepan, cover with salted water and bring to the boil
- Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft enough to easily pierce with a fork (takes around 15 minutes)
- Drain away the water, then put back on the gas for about 30 seconds, just to get rid of any excess water that you didn't quite manage to drain away (you don't want the salad to be soggy!)
- Meanwhile, place the thinly sliced cucumber in a bowl with a good pinch of salt and leave for around 10 minutes, so that the excess water is drawn out of the cucumber
- Drain away the excess water from the cucumber, then add to a large bowl along with the cooked potatoes etc (add sweetcorn at this stage if you like)
- Mix in the mayonnaise whilst the potatoes etc are still hot - the flavour will soak into them better this way
- Taste again and adjust seasonings
- Best served at room temperature or cold. Keeps covered in the fridge for a few days
- *Feel free to substitute with your favourite mayonnaise (store-bought or homemade). To make the flavour more like Japanese mayonnaise, just add a touch more vinegar and maple syrup, or any other sweetener