Kewpie Mayo is a beloved condiment from Japan which holds a special place in the hearts and kitchens of food enthusiasts across the nation as well as beyond.
In this article, which is part of the Kewpie Series we’re currently hosting on the blog, we’re doing something a bit different.
We’ll dive into the unique composition of Kewpie Mayo to find out the ingredients that sets it apart from its Western counterparts, giving you an insider’s look at the secrets behind Kewpie’s famous Mayo!
The Ingredients In Kewpie Mayo
Japanese Kewpie Mayo is the version of the condiment primarily marketed in Japan. While some may call it the original version, all Mayo’s originating from the Kewpie Company are authentic products nevertheless.
As you would expect, the fact that Kewpie Mayo operates in different markets implies that the array of products they offer have variations in the type of ingredients used primarily because of considerations with regards to the taste of the audience they serve, as well as the availability of raw materials among all the things.
Below are the ingredients you’ll find in Kewpie Mayo, Japanese Version.
Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Soybean Oil)
When it comes to Japanese Kewpie Mayo, the primary source of fat is/or the combination of vegetable oils such as canola oil and soybean oil.
These oils, because of their neutral flavor, allow for Kewpie to build the taste of the Mayo the way they like (using natural flavoring as well as spices), and because of their fatty constituents, make the resulting Mayo rich and creamy with a smooth mouthfeel especially when purposed in toasts or used as a salad dressing.
Oils also add stability of emulsion, which lack of thereof, would produce a product other than mayonnaise.
According to Kewpie, samples of the oils to be used for the production process are first scrutinized to ensure they reach the set standards, before they are channelled to the storage tank, from where they are gradually transferred to the production chain via pipelines.
In regular Mayo, oil is expected to make up between 65 to 85% of the formula, and in Kewpie, it’s roughly about 70%, with the rest of the ingredients sharing the remaining 30%.
Egg yolks are another essential component of Kewpie Mayo. The company explicitly describes egg yolk as their secret ingredient to attaining a distinctively rich flavor in their Mayo.
Egg yolks are used without the whites in kewpie, a move that swiftly distinguishes the Mayo from a myriad of other brands out there.
The use of only Egg whites, and more of them, builds upon not only the flavor of the Mayo, but provides a surplus of natural emulsifiers like lecithin which enhances stability, texture and impart a rich, yellow hue.
According to Kewpie, the eggs used in the production process are carefully inspected for freshness as well as quality through testing/research to trace back the nutritional profile of the hen involved as well as the hygiene level of the environment it was raised in.
Then, they ensure the eggs are sterilized before they are cracked and the yolks are seperated for the process.
Vinegar is also another key component in Kewpie mayo.
It adds tanginess to Kewpie Mayo, helping to balance out the richness from the oil and egg yolks.
The acidity in vinegar also aids in emulsifying the mixture, resulting in a smooth and stable product.
As for the type of vinegar used, it’s mostly apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar or a combination of both and even more other types of vinegar like the distilled vinegar and white balsamic vinegar.
Just like with the yolks and oils, the outsourcing of the vinegar is specially granted to a specific company and the product is thoroughly inspected for acid content, extract components, flavor, color, glucide and aroma before it is accepted, stored into a tank and delivered to the production chain via pipelines.
Salt is an essential seasoning in Kewpie Mayo as it helps to enhance the overall flavor profile as well as bring out the natural flavors of other ingredients.
It also acts as a natural preservative, helping to extend the shelf life of the mayonnaise.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is an ingredient you’ll find only in the Japanese version of Kewpie (and maybe in versions of Kewpie produced in other countries with the exception of the United States Of course).
MSG is naturally a flavor enhancer that is common in Japanese cooking. It is mostly used to amplify the taste of dishes.
In Kewpie Mayo, MSG contributes to the distinct umami flavor that sets it apart from Western mayonnaises.
The exclusion of MSG in the United States product is deliberate. The specific ingredient has a bad rap among the American audience. Including it in a version marketed for such an audience might easily backfire, thus, the exclusion.
Spices play a crucial role in Kewpie Mayo by adding subtle, complex flavors that complement the other ingredients.
The specific spices used in Kewpie Mayo may vary, but overall, they work together to create a well-rounded taste of the product.
The term “natural flavor” in the food product world refers to flavoring substances derived from natural sources such as plants or animals.
These natural flavors help to create a unique and distinctive taste in Kewpie Mayo that sets it apart from other mayonnaises in the market.
Obviously, it would be unwise for the company to share the exact natural flavoring they use as well as in what percentages they use them. So Kewpie have resorted to keep it to themselves.
We do know however, that Kewpie Mayo employs ingredients such as Calcium Disodium EDTA to help protect all these flavor.
Vegan Kewpie Mayo
This version of Kewpie Mayo features a slightly different set of ingredients compared to the traditional Japanese version (obviously because the Mayo is targeted for a different customer base: vegans, vegetarians and those on a kosher free diet).
Let’s break down each ingredient in the Vegan Kewpie Mayo.
Expeller Pressed Canola Oil
Expeller pressed canola oil is obviously the vegetable oil used here and it is extracted from canola seeds using a mechanical process.
This oil serves as the main fat source in the mayonnaise, providing a rich and creamy texture just like in the Japanese Mayo.
Water is used in Vegan Kewpie Mayo to adjust the consistency of the mix and help with the emulsification process.
Distilled white vinegar is the vinegar used here, and its acidity contributes tanginess to Kewpie Mayo, helping to balance the richness of the oil and help in the emulsification process. Vinegar also acts as a natural preservative for extending the shelf life of Kewpie Mayo.
Salt is a key seasoning in Kewpie Mayo and it helps to enhance the overall flavor profile. It also serves as a preservative.
Modified food starch is basically processed starch used as a thickener, stabilizer or emulsifier in food products. In Kewpie Mayo, its main goal is to help create a smooth and stable consistency.
Yeast extract is a natural source of umami flavor and is therefore used as the direct replacement for MSG to carter for an umami flavor sensation which adds depth and complexity to the overall taste.
Xanthan gum is a natural polysaccharide that acts as a thickener and stabilizer in Kewpie Mayo. It helps to maintain the desired texture and prevents the mayonnaise from separating into curds.
Mustard flour is a ground form of mustard seeds which adds a subtle spiciness and complexity to the flavor of Kewpie Mayo.
Mustard oil is also extracted from mustard seeds and has a pungent, slightly spicy flavor. It’s addition also contributes to the overall flavor profile of Kewpie Mayo, adding depth and a hint of heat.
Product Of USA
The Kewpie Mayo (product of the USA) is the version marketed for the US Audience and as you would expect, has a slight modification to its composition so as to fit perfectly with the taste of the American audience.
The product of USA can be identified as the bottle that features a unique, slender and squeezable plastic design, a transparent or semi-transparent bottle body so the creamy, pale yellow color of the mayonnaise inside is easily visible and a white bottle labelling which prominently displays the Kewpie brand logo having a cute, cherubic baby (also known as the Kewpie doll) and a sandwich directly underneath.
Product of USA shares the following Ingredients with the Japanese Mayo: soybean oil, vinegar (although it uses distilled vinegar and red wine vinegar), salt, egg yolks and water, and it also shares the following ingredients with the Vegan Mayo: mustard flour, yeast extract and natural flavors.
So how does it differ in taste from these other Mayo you might ask?
It’s all in the sugar content as well as the exclusion of MSG which brings a specific type of umami to the mix that differs from what yeast extract can offer.
What Is The Recipe For Kewpie Mayo?
While it is difficult to recreate Kewpie Mayo exactly as the company does (because it employs complex techniques for emulsification that cannot be easily replicated at home), among a few other things, you can still make a version at home that tastes decent.
Here’s a simple recipe to create Kewpie-inspired mayonnaise:
- 1 cup of vegetable oil (such as canola or soybean oil)
- 3 large egg yolks (preferably pasteurized for safety)
- 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (MSG) or a pinch of dashi powder (optional)
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth and slightly thickened.
- Add the Dijon mustard, distilled white vinegar, salt, sugar and water to the egg yolks and whisk until everything is well combined.
- Slowly drizzle the vegetable oil into the egg yolk mixture while continuously whisking. Start with a few drops at a time and gradually increase the flow, making sure the oil is fully incorporated before adding more.
- Once all the oil has been added to the egg and the mixture has thickened, you can mix then mix in the monosodium glutamate (MSG) or a pinch of dashi powder if desired. This will help enhance the umami flavor and bring your homemade mayo closer to the taste of the original Kewpie Mayo.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. If the mayonnaise is too thick, you can thin it out by whisking in a few drops of water.
- Transfer the mayonnaise to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least an hour before using. This will help the flavors meld together and give the mayonnaise a chance to set.
- Store the homemade kewpie inspired mayonnaise in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Use it as a spread for sandwiches, a dip for veggies, or an ingredient in your favorite recipes.
Here’s another way to make the same Kewpie mayo:
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Kewpie Mayo Have Raw Eggs?
Yes, Kewpie mayonnaise contains raw egg yolks which contributes to its rich and creamy texture as well as deep yellow coloration.If you are concerned about consuming raw eggs, know that the eggs used in making Kewpie follow strict safety and quality control measures and are properly sterilised before incorporated into the recipe.