For Mayo, the Magic Is in the Umami

By Korakot Suriya-arporn | Megan Swann


Korakot Suriya-arporn
Megan Swann
40-day Dry-aged Burger, Black Pepper-Kewpie Mayonnaise, and Nueske’s Bacon
40-day Dry-aged Burger, Black Pepper-Kewpie Mayonnaise, and Nueske’s Bacon

It's the most appealing condiment in the most unappealing packaging. It slouches on the shelf in a shameless, clear plastic bag with a red mesh design on the top and an altogether creepy baby on the bottom—arms outstretched. Ring a bell? Kewpie mayonnaise gets its umami-ful tang from MSG powder and komezu—a Japanese rice wine vinegar—and is slightly sweeter than its Western counterparts. 

At David Burke's Primehouse in Chicago, you'll find kewpie everywhere. “I enjoy working with Kewpie for its versatility and broad flavor profile. It complements many of our dishes due to its dynamic taste,” says Chef Dino Tsaknis. “I find it aesthetically more pleasant, creamier, coating the palate better, and it really hits all the senses with its salty, sweet, and sour tastes.” Tsaknis starts his house Kewpie in a food processor with rice wine, malt vinegar, and egg yolk. Then he slowly streams in extra virgin olive and canola oils. In addition to salt and garlic powder, ground bonito flakes boost the umami-ed flavor profile without the use of MSG. Tsaknis adds cracked black pepper and liberally smears his fortified Kewpie on toasted Hawaiian sesame rolls that house his 40-day, dry-aged burger—one of the city’s best expressions of beef and bun. 

Kewpie Mayo (Yield: 10 quarts)
1. In a food processor, combine 1 kilogram rice wine vinegar, 380 grams malt vinegar, and 1 quart egg yolk.
2. In a slow, steady stream, pour a mixture of 6.4 quarts canola oil and 1.6 quarts extra virgin olive oil until emulsified.
3. To season, add 85 grams salt, 30 grams Coleman’s mustard powder, 5 grams ground bonito flakes, and 20 grams garlic powder.

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