Umami Mart Registry

When I was five, my family moved from the heart of the Silicon Valley (Cupertino) to the heart of Tokyo (Aoyama). Although it probably would have been a dream for trendy tots and tweens like Suri or Tavi, I was a tomboy who liked my suburban swing set in Cupertino and despised the high-rise buildings that suddenly surrounded me. And to make it worse, my older sister and I were thrown into a private, Catholic school.

I don't remember much from those three years I spent in Aoyama. But one of the few things that I remember is that my sister had a classmate who was addicted to Kewpie mayonnaise.

The stories I would hear from my sister about her classmate are still vivid today. Everyday this fourth-grader would open her packed lunch and her mom would dutifully pack portable packets of Kewpie mayonnaise in her bento bag. The girl would squirt packets of mayonnaise into her mouth like a kid today would his Go-Gurt. Kewpie was her Ritalin.

I moved to Tokyo again 20 years after my time there in the mid-eighties and found myself back in the land of mayonnaise maniacs. Apparently, the epidemic had spread well beyond that lone fourth-grader. The answer to everything was Kewpie mayonnaise:

Bland okonomiyaki? Mayo.

Unappetizing canned tuna? Mayo.

Raw cabbage too raw? Mayo.

Something's just not right with my pizza? Mayo.

Don't get me wrong, I love Kewpie mayo with my veggie sticks and takoyaki, but I draw the line at pizza. For the occasions that I do indulge in some Kewpie, I was curious to make my own - sans MSG and all the other stuff that's best left a mystery on the ingredients list.

After scouring various Japanese recipes for mayonnaise, it became apparent that the ingredients for homemade Japanese mayonnaise are very straight forward.


1 egg yolk at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp vinegar
180cc or 3/4 cup salad oil



1. In a glass mixing bowl combine egg yolk, salt and vinegar. Whisk very well.


2. Once the egg mixture is mixed up well, add the oil little by little.


I emphasize little by little so that the oil incorporates very well with the egg mixture.


3. The mixture should be thick.

4. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour before enjoying.

Look, I even found a perfect jar!



In a taste test alongside Kewpie (squeezed out on the left) there are noticeable differences.


My homemade mayo is less creamy and more tangy than Kewpie. I might try to increase the egg yolk ratio to vinegar next time. I may also try adding finely grated garlic next time to pump up the umami factor. The texture is also less firm than Kewpie. And because there is no MSG in the homemade version, it leaves a cleaner aftertaste than Kewpie. I can see a lot of potential for my next batch.

I am impressed with this homemade version. Even if the taste and experience is a little different from Kewpie, I really love the fact that I have homemade Japanese mayo stocked in my fridge.

If only I could reconnect with that now grown up fourth-grader and ask her what she thinks of my version of Japanese mayo. Squirt.
Column: Japanify


  • You can also put everything in a container and shake the whole thing vigorously like Shake Weight. 180ml of oil is scary to think though..

    Yamahomo on

  • Squirtilicious! My mouth can’t wait to receive a good homemade squirt when I arrive in SF.

    Love the top pic – so manga. Mayo Man to the rescue!

    Anders on

  • I love how you did all the mixing with chopsticks. That’s so Japanese.

    Aya on

  • i will admit that i do love me some mayo on my japanese pizza…. and everything mayo’d from the bakeries too

    wen on

  • Anders – Yeah, I think I will have a better version for you when you visit. I am determined to make it creamier and less tangy.

    Yamahomo – Agh, the shake weight. Yeah I was a bit appalled by all that oil. I think I want to play with the ratios more next time. More egg yolk, less vinegar and oil.

    yoko on

  • Great tips. Thanks! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    yoko on

  • Yoko, try with less amount of oil (120-150ml) plus add a pinch of sugar at the end.

    yamahomo on

  • すっすごい、このブログ日本語コメント始まってる!! So International, so appropriate.

    Yamahomo on

  • コメントありがとうございました!なるほど、最初に市販のマヨネーズに入れる事ですね。卵はオーガニックのを使用しました。姉の鳥から生みたての卵を使いました!味はおいしかったですが今後はオイルの量をおさえます。

    yoko on

  • マヨネーズを少し作るのは難しいです。むしろたくさん作る方が楽にできます。一番手抜きは、最初に少し市販のマヨネーズをボールに入れ、そこに黄身を入れサラダオイルを入れ攪拌します。分離もなく失敗もありません。でも本当はオーガニックのマーケットで買った卵とオイルで作るのがベストです。

    kenji miura on

  • Late to the party, but Kenji Miura gave some good tips so I wanted to translate:
    He says its easier to make more mayo at once. He said if you begin with a small ball of already mayo, add the yolk & stuff on top of that, you will never have failed mayo. He also recommends organic egg yolks.

    In my personal experience, using more acid (vinegar or lemon juice) makes the mayo stiffer. Also, the Kewpie mayo wiki says their proprietary blend includes Apple Cider Vinegar & other vinegar, as well as sugar and ajimoto. I’ve yet to get the taste to be quite right though.

    I like to use light olive oil to make it healthier.

    Trish on

  • mm delish just wondering what to do with my new bottle of kewpie mayo on, besides the usual mentaiko pasta mix

    annabel on

  • I like the method. I making today thanks

    pravve on

  • Thanks for the translation Trish! How many times have you made this?

    yoko on

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