On The Glory That Is Japanese Mayonnaise


Sorry I’ve not been around a lot recently. I’ve been sucked into some other things and that’s not changed much, but I did want to post and say hi and share something other than politics to think about. I hope to post more often, on a variety of non-political topics.


So, like a good son of a Swiss father with many Swiss and Belgian cousins, I love me some mayonnaise. I mean, I love love love it – I was that college sophomore who lived off campus and occasionally made my own in my blender because the store shelves back then disappointed. I eat it on fries, burger buns, sandwiches, fried fish, subs, and many, many things. Not a fan of mayo-based “salads”, to be honest, but besides that, mayonnaise is regal. Well, except tuna salad. Truly a wonder food.

In all my years of cooking with Asian ingredients, and having first been to Japan 21 years ago, I’ve often seen and encountered Japanese mayonnaise, often the Kewpie brand. I’ve had Japanese mayonnaise in Japan and the US and liked it, but once I found it was the magic ingredient in some yummy noodles I love, I knew I had to try it at home.

That was a couple of years ago – until then I’d never bought it. OMG what a mistake! I cannot believe I’ve missed this divine stuff for so long, wasted years not enjoying it often. If you like mayo, try it. It is, of course, a great mayo for most mayo uses, but I prefer it as a sauce for any number of things. It’s so, so good. It’s a yolkier, creamier, and sweeter mayonnaise than what we’re used to, plus it has a tiny bit of MSG/seaweed extract in it to pump up the umami.

So it’s like a better mayo plus a bit of extra umami kick. I’ve eaten it, plain, as a dipping sauce for often-cold leftovers of many forms of beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, and veggies. It’s also great to make any of your favorite dipping sauces beyond the basic, so adding horseradish, garlic, capers, shallot, onion, any type of hot sauce, vinegar, herbs, spices, mustard, ketchup, bbq sauce, maple syrup (try, don’t judge), lemon or lime juice; I’ve made quite an assortment of dipping sauces for all kinds of meals. I’ve not yet tried this, but allegedly, some chefs use it instead of butter for pan frying some dishes.

Give it a try – it doesn’t have to be Kewpie, but that’s a great brand. It’s shelf-stable until opened. I expect you can buy it at some better “normal” markets, but I’d recommend finding a good Asian market so you can have a little adventure as well. There are so many treasures you can find there, so even if you’re not a mayonnaise fan, go shop there and buy interesting things.  You can ask questions, or pull out the phone and research. It’s amazing what you can discover and experiment with, cheaply.

I’ve often found an enjoyable hour or two wandering around the produce aisle, looking up descriptions, translations, and recipes for what I find. Even if I don’t buy something on that trip, some of those new things percolate in the back of my brain and two months later, “out of the blue”, I’ll be inspired to look up a recipe or two and try them out.

Consider this an open thread for non-political stuff, ideally cooking- or food-related.

A Sunday Night Recipe: Tahini Walnut Rolls

I’m taking a hiatus from politics for a while. Here’s a recipe I played with this week. Love the people in my life who look forward to me experimenting with new recipes and are willing taste-testers.

I have a bunch of Food in Fiction recipes on the cooking blog, I love finding or recreating recipes in novels I’ve read. One of my very favorites was the Lane Cake from To Kill A Mockingbird.  So when I started writing, I wanted to include foods in my books that match recipes on my blog.

In my newest endeavor, I have included a little Turkish Cafe as a part of the local color and I wanted to try out a few pastry recipes to use in the book. This was one of the simpler (and not deep fried) that I decided to give a try.

This is not the definitive recipe – if you Google Tahini Rolls you’ll find dozens of variations. Everyone’s grandma must make her own version. This one seemed the easiest to replicate.

These are much different than I expected. Light, crisp, flaky and not too sweet, they go great with coffee.  I really liked them.  This recipe makes about 2 dozen:

Tahini Walnut Rolls

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg instant dry yeast
  •  4 cups flour (480 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup tahini paste
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs roasted sesame
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds to sprinkle over buns

Warm milk, butter, oil and sugar to 90 degrees (F). Add packet of yeast and mix gently.

Mix together flour and salt and add, 1 cup at a time, to the milk mixture. Blend thoroughly and mix until it forms a soft ball. Knead gently for 2 minutes.

Remove to a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled.

Meanwhile, mix tahini and sugar together until smooth. Chop walnuts.

Divide dough into two balls. Roll one of the balls out until very thin (but not thin enough to tear).

Spread ½ of the tahini mixture over the rolled dough. Sprinkle half the walnuts and 1 tbsp of sesame seeds over the dough. Roll up into a jelly roll.  Slice into one inch thick pieces. Lay flat onto a baking sheet. Gently flatten.

Repeat with second ball of dough.

Mix egg yolk with a bit of water and brush over rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.


Open thread.

Saturday Night Recipe Thread: Holiday Treats

From my recipe blog:

I was doing some recipe searching for a project I’ll post about later and sesame seeds were heavily featured. That put me in mind of Sesame Brittle. I thought it might be nice to have it to crumble over ice cream on the Sundae Bar on Christmas Eve.

Such a simple recipe. No candy thermometer needed. I always use oiled wax paper, but I’m wondering if oiled parchment would work better. The heat of candy on the wax paper melts it in places. Difficult to peel off.

Sesame Brittle

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • salt

saucepan, wax paper (or parchment) and baking sheet

In the saucepan over high heat, melt butter and sugar and stir to combine. Without stirring, cook until mixture becomes a light to medium caramel color, about 3-5 minutes, then add sesame seeds and stir in.

Pour mixture onto a well-oiled wax paper or well-oiled parchment paper covered baking sheet and spread into an even, thin layer, about 1/8 to 1 /4-inch thick, with a wooden spoon. The shape will be irregular but don’t worry, you are just going to break it into pieces after it cools anyway.

Immediately shake a bit of salt over top of mixture and lightly press into caramel using the spoon. I used less than a 1/4 tsp for the entire mixture and that was plenty, though your mileage may vary. Allow to set-up for about 10-15 minutes.

When brittle has hardened and cooled, break into pieces and enjoy. Store in an air-tight container. And then hide or it won’t make it to the party.

Top: Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, Spritz Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes (Pecan Cookies)

We skipped the annual cookie baking party – but the recipes for the cookies pictured above and below are here.

Fruit-filled shortbread

BTW, for those who were waiting breathlessly on what movie we chose for this year’s party – the winner is: Speed. A feel-good Christmas tale of two star-crossed lovers racing to fix Santa’s sleigh before the big night and realizing, as Santa takes off with his eight tiny reindeer, they were meant to be and share a first kiss as the credits roll. (I may or may not have watched one too many Hallmark Holiday movies this week)

Open thread

(Has Betty Cracker done her annual drunken auntie cookie bakeoff?)

Thanksgiving Files: Turkey, Sides and Desserts

I’m not cooking this year, so it gives me some time to put together a list of recipes links for Thanksgiving.

Starting with the turkey here are some of my favorites:

Spatchcock Turkey is the only way I make it anymore and you can find the recipe here.

Read more

Friday Recipes: Multi-Pot Bourbon Beef Stew and Cookies

Wow, what’s got into the food goddess? Another recipe? Quick someone check her for a fever.

I’ve posted this recipe before, but wanted to update it for the instant pot. (You don’t need to use the slow-cooker feature after pressure cooking, I had the time and it was easier than trying to find room for it in the refrigerator until dinner that night). You get a bonus Gabe photo, too. From What’s 4 Dinner Solutions:

I used the multi-pot to cook up a big batch of Bourbon Beef Stew (recipe here) for dinner guests. I sauteed the beef in the multi-pot, along with the onions and then added the remaining ingredients and used the soup/stew feature to pressure cook for 20 minutes. I then used the slow-cooker feature to let it cook for the rest of the day.

I have been using potato starch in lieu of flour for gravies and thickening. It makes for a satin texture and I really like it. Bonus, gluten-free.

The bread was not gluten-free and we had two loaves of it. Using this recipe and my new KitchenAid.

Sure looks like someone nicked a cookie before I got my photo

And for dessert, Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe here) – again using the new KitchenAid. I’m enjoying it and can’t wait for the big Christmas cookie baking session in December.

Bonus Gabe supervising the cooking:

I am not cooking Thanksgiving this year (though there still seems to be a 12lb turkey in my freezer). I’ll be traveling instead. That means I will have time on Sunday to put up a post with some Thanksgiving recipes, links to many more and be around to answer any pressing recipe questions.

Have I mentioned I love Thanksgiving?? Also, I know we are going to have 52 different versions of beef stew in the comments, claiming to be the best. So let me say this now, “Yes, yes, yours is the best, what were we all thinking with our inferior offerings?” 😎

What’s on your plate this weekend? Open thread.