Who has heard of Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise? For shame if you haven’t. It’s a big thing in Japan (obvs) but also with chefs the world over. So here’s the lowdown for you.
What is it?
Kewpie is a brand, not a type. It is the most readily available and distinctive of the Japanese mayonnaise family. You will see it drizzled across everything when you go Japanese eatery-ing. And you can find it in the supermarket in its cute little packaging and a ready-to-use nozzle and no glass container to break!
Most mayo uses whole eggs, but Kewpie uses only the yolks. It also has rice vinegar rather than distilled. It has no sugar, and adds MSG (horrors!) which gives it the significant umami, that thing chefs love to bang on about. The handy packaging leads to many Japanese people carrying it around with them so they can slap some mayo on whatever food appears before them.
Where’s it from?
In the years following WW1 Toichiro Nakashima founded the Nakishamato Corporation. He had worked in the Japanese Department of Agriculture and Commerce and decided to start a food production company called Shokuhin Kogyo Co. In the early 1920’s Toichiro headed to the US and returned with a box of mayo. He adapted the product to Japanese tastes by increasing the amount of egg yolk and then launched the Kewpie brand.
The flavour of Kewpie mayonnaise is very… umm… mayonnaise-y. Truth. It is richer, sweeter and tangier than Australian mayo. Apparently David Chang calles it ‘the best mayonnaise in the world’. You heard it here first, good people.
What does it go with?
Everything you would put mayo on and more. I am not a fan of everyday mayo, but Japanese mayo I love. Don’t ask me why this is so. I am a conundrum, even to myself.