Delicious Japanese Potato Salad with Mentaiko Recipe: A Spicy Twist

We’re diving into the heart of Japanese cuisine today with a dish that’s as comforting as it is unique: Japanese potato salad with mentaiko. This isn’t your average potato salad. Oh no, it’s a delightful twist on a classic, blending the creamy, familiar texture of potato salad with the briny kick of mentaiko, or spicy cod roe. It’s a fusion that’s bound to tantalize your taste buds.


As we dive into making this flavorful dish, let’s gather all the necessary components. Here’s everything you’ll need to bring this comforting yet tantalizing Japanese potato salad with mentaiko to life.

For the Salad

  • 4 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Mentaiko Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons mentaiko (spicy cod roe), removed from the sac
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably Japanese Kewpie
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • A sprinkle of chopped green onions or chives for garnish (optional)

Equipment Needed

As we dive deeper into the preparation of this tantalizing Japanese potato salad with mentaiko, you’ll find that the equipment needed is quite simple. You won’t need any fancy kitchen gadgets to create this comforting yet exciting dish. Here’s what we’ll use:

  • Large pot: Essential for boiling the russet potatoes and carrots to achieve that perfect, tender bite.
  • Cutting board and sharp knife: For chopping the vegetables and hard-boiled eggs neatly. Accuracy in cutting ensures that every bite has a harmonious blend of all the flavors.
  • Mixing bowls: We’ll use one for mixing the salad and another smaller one for whisking together the dressing. It’s good to have bowls of various sizes on hand.
  • Vegetable peeler: This will come in handy for peeling the potatoes and carrots. A peeler with a comfortable grip will make this task a breeze.
  • Whisk or fork: Essential for emulsifying the dressing, ensuring that the mentaiko, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar are thoroughly combined to coat every piece of vegetable and potato with flavor.
  • Measuring spoons and cups: Precision is key when it comes to the dressing. Accurate measurements of mayonnaise, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and seasonings will balance the creamy, umami, and slightly sweet flavors perfectly.
  • Serving dish: Choose a beautiful dish to present your Japanese potato salad with mentaiko. The visual appeal is just as important as the taste.

Gather these tools, and you’ll be set to create a dish that’s a feast for both the eyes and the palate. Let’s move on to preparing our ingredients and assembling this delightful salad.

Preparation Steps

Embarking on the culinary journey of making Japanese potato salad with mentaiko is both exciting and rewarding. Here, we’ll guide you through each step, ensuring your dish turns out perfectly.

Cooking the Potatoes

  1. Wash and Peel the Potatoes: Start by thoroughly washing 3 large russet potatoes under cold water. Then, using a vegetable peeler, remove the skins. For consistency in cooking, cut the potatoes into uniform, bite-sized pieces.
  2. Boil the Potatoes: In a large pot, bring enough water to cover the potatoes to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water to flavor the potatoes as they cook. Carefully add the potato pieces and boil for about 15 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Avoid overcooking to prevent them from becoming too mushy.
  3. Drain and Cool: Once the potatoes are cooked through, drain the water and transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Let them cool for about 10 minutes. This resting period allows the steam to escape, which prevents the salad from becoming too watery.

Creating the Mentaiko Dressing

  1. Extract the Roe: Carefully slit open one piece of mentaiko (spicy cod roe) using a sharp knife. Gently scrape the roe out into a small bowl. If you prefer a subtler flavor, you can adjust the amount of mentaiko to suit your taste.
  2. Mix with Dressing Ingredients: To the mentaiko, add 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce, and a pinch of sugar. Whisk these ingredients together until you have a smooth and creamy dressing. This mix will infuse your potato salad with the quintessential Japanese umami-packed flavor with a gentle kick from the mentaiko.
  3. Combine: Once the potatoes have cooled, gently fold in the mentaiko dressing. Be careful not to mash the potatoes too much to preserve some texture in your salad. This step marries the creamy, tangy dressing with the soft, comforting potatoes resulting in a flavor-packed dish that is unique yet familiar.

Mixing the Salad

Now that we’ve prepared our vegetables and mentaiko dressing, it’s time to bring everything together. This process transforms our ingredients into a harmonious and palatable dish that’s bursting with flavor.

Assembling the Base

First, ensure that your boiled potatoes have cooled sufficiently. We’re aiming for a temperature that’s comfortable to handle yet cold enough to prevent the dressing from separating. Once they’re ready, gently peel them and cut into bite-sized chunks, transferring them to a large mixing bowl.

Next, add the finely chopped carrots, cucumber, and sweet corn kernels to the bowl. For the carrots and cucumber, we prefer them diced into small pieces, whereas the corn can be added whole. This combination of vegetables not only adds a delightful crunch but also introduces a rainbow of colors making the dish visually appealing.

Then, chop the hard-boiled eggs into small pieces or slice them, according to your preference, and add them to the mixing bowl. The eggs add a lovely creaminess that pairs wonderfully with the tangy dressing we’re about to prepare.

Adding the Mentaiko Dressing

With our base assembled, it’s time to introduce the star of the show – the mentaiko dressing. Retrieve the dressing we prepared earlier, ensuring it’s well-emulsified and the mentaiko has been thoroughly mixed to infuse its spicy, sea-fresh flavor throughout.

Pour the mentaiko dressing over the potato mixture. Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold the dressing into the vegetables and eggs. It’s crucial to mix with a light hand to avoid mashing the potatoes too much while ensuring each piece is coated evenly with the dressing. This step is where the magic happens, as the creamy, spicy dressing melds with the tender potatoes and crisp vegetables to create a dish that’s incredibly satisfying to eat.

As you mix, you’ll notice the salad starting to take on a beautiful, creamy texture with the specks of vibrant red from the mentaiko adding an appetizing color contrast. Keep mixing until you’re confident that the flavors are well-distributed throughout the salad.

Serving Suggestions

After carefully crafting our Japanese potato salad with mentaiko, finding the perfect way to serve it can elevate the dish from comforting to truly memorable. This section will guide you through several serving suggestions designed to complement the dish’s creamy texture and the unique, briny kick of mentaiko.

Accompany With Main Courses

The richness and distinct flavor of our potato salad make it an excellent side dish to lighter main courses. Consider pairing it with grilled fish or chicken. The smokiness of the grilled meat contrasts beautifully with the creamy and spicy notes of the salad. For a more traditional Japanese meal, serve alongside a simple miso soup and steamed rice to let the flavors of each component shine through.

Serve as Part of a Buffet

Our Japanese potato salad with mentaiko is a standout addition to any buffet or potluck gathering. Its unique flavor profile captures attention and can be a conversation starter. Place it next to familiar salads and sides so guests can compare and enjoy the variety of tastes. Be sure to include a serving spoon for easy self-service.

Present as an Appetizer

For a more sophisticated dining experience, you can serve our salad as an appetizer. Consider placing a small portion on a bed of delicate greens such as arugula or baby spinach. The peppery notes of the greens will complement the richness of the mentaiko dressing.

Enjoy as a Light Lunch

On days when a lighter meal is preferred, our Japanese potato salad with mentaiko serves as a fulfilling lunch option. Add a slice of crusty bread or a few crackers on the side for added texture. The salad is hearty enough to satisfy but light enough to not weigh you down.

Garnishing Tips

A final sprinkle of chopped green onions or chives not only adds a pop of color but also introduces a fresh, mild onion flavor that cuts through the creaminess. For a bit of extra decadence, a slight drizzle of additional virgin olive oil or a sprinkle of sesame seeds before serving can add another layer of complexity to the dish.

Regardless of how you choose to serve it, our Japanese potato salad with mentaiko is sure to delight and impress. Each suggestion mentioned here aims to complement the dish’s rich flavors and textures, making every bite a memorable part of your meal.

Make-Ahead Tips

We understand that sometimes we all need a little help in the kitchen to streamline our cooking process, especially when preparing dishes for gatherings or meal planning for the week. Our Japanese potato salad with mentaiko is not just a delight to taste but also friendly for making ahead, ensuring you can enjoy its creamy, tangy goodness with ease whenever you want. Here are our top tips for making this delicious dish ahead of time.

Prepping the Vegetables and Eggs

  • Potatoes: After boiling and mashing the potatoes, let them cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can be prepared up to two days ahead.
  • Carrots and Cucumbers: Dice the carrots and slice the cucumbers, then store them separately in airtight containers in the fridge. They stay fresh and crisp for up to two days.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs: Peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use them within two days for the best quality.

Preparing the Mentaiko Dressing

The dressing is a crucial part of this recipe, balancing the creamy texture with a spicy and briny kick. Fortunately, it can be prepared ahead of time. Simply mix the mentaiko, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar in a bowl. If you’ve opted for additional seasonings, incorporate them now. Store this mixture in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 72 hours before you plan to combine it with the salad. Stir it well before mixing with the other ingredients to ensure the flavors are well-blended.

Assembling the Salad

For the freshest taste and texture, we recommend assembling the salad 1-2 hours before serving. This little window allows the flavors to meld beautifully without the vegetables losing their crunch. However, if you’re pressed for time, the assembled salad can still maintain its quality for up to 24 hours in the fridge. The key to preventing sogginess is to make sure the potatoes have cooled completely before mixing and to add the dressing just before you’re ready to serve or up to an hour before.


We’ve explored how the classic Japanese potato salad can be elevated with the addition of mentaiko, creating a dish that’s both familiar and excitingly new. It’s a testament to the versatility of Japanese cuisine and how simple ingredients can be transformed into something extraordinary. Whether you’re planning to serve it at your next gathering or just looking for a refreshing twist on a beloved classic, this salad is sure to impress. Remember to enjoy the process of making it as much as you’ll enjoy eating it. Let’s embrace the blend of creamy, tangy, and spicy flavors that make this dish a standout. Here’s to making meals that aren’t just food but an experience!

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