Vegan Kewpie Mayo Is the Secret to This Crispy Enoki Sando

Yes, making your own vegan Kewpie mayo involves MSG. No, that shouldn't scare you.

Photo: Andy Zambrano

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Kewpie mayo is a trending ingredient right now. But it’s one I can stand by because of how versatile it is. Unlike regular mayo, Japanese Kewpie mayo is slightly tangy, sweeter, bolder, more unctuous; overall more complex. It also has the deliciously ‘forbidden’ ingredient: MSG (which you should not be afraid of.)  I, for one, like a dash of MSG in my recipes every once in a while. It’s a great ingredient. Since the traditional version of Kewpie is heavy on eggs, I developed my own vegan Kewpie mayo for us to try out!

There are some key ingredients for this mayo that I highly recommend using. And yes, a trip to your local Asian market may be necessary for this recipe. First would be black salt, also known as Kala Namak. Not to be confused with black sea salt, the color of this salt is actually more on the pinkish side. Kala Namak has a sulfur taste to it that replicates an eggy profile. I bought a large tub of it from an Indian market, so I always have it around. I also use mushroom bouillon powder, which contains MSG; you could also use pure MSG if you have a bag on hand. Both options will do just fine. The last important ingredient is silken tofu, so we can create a smooth texture.

This recipe makes about 3 cups of mayo that will keep in your fridge for a few weeks. You can use it for anything that calls for mayonnaise. Maybe even add it to your ramen broth.

To show off the vegan Kewpie mayo you’ve made, try this fried enoki sandwich. It takes some inspiration from popular Japanese sandos and delivers a compelling contrast of flavors and textures. Pick up the katsu sauce and enoki mushrooms you’ll need while you’re at the Asian market on the hunt for items to make your mayo.


More Related Recipes to Try Next:
Oyster Mushroom and Kabocha Squash Pasta
Vegan Chilaquiles
Chickpea Salad

Crispy Enoki Sando with Vegan Kewpie Mayo


Vegan kewpie mayo

  • 1 package of silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons mushroom bouillon powder or MSG
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black salt (Kala Namak) or regular salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup neutral-tasting oil

Fried enoki mushrooms

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups cold mineral water
  • 400 grams (2 packages) enoki mushrooms
  • Oil for frying

To assemble sandwich

  • White bread, crusts removed
  • 1 small head green cabbage
  • Katsu sauce


  1. In a food processor or blender add all the mayo ingredients except the oil and blend till smooth. Then slowly emulsify with the oil. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until needed.
  2. In a sauce pot, heat up the frying oil to a steady 350 degrees. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, and mineral water to a bowl, starting with the dry ingredients first, and whisk all together. The batter should be a thinner consistency.

  3. Cut off the bottom stub of the mushrooms, cutting as close as you can to the end but getting rid of the dirt. Tear apart the mushroom into small bundles about an inch and a half wide.

  4. Dredge the enoki in the batter making sure to shake off any access. I like to hold the base of the enoki and with my other hand, strain using two fingers right over the bowl.

  5. Place it in the hot oil and fry for 5 minutes, rotating at the half point. You may have to do this in batches. Once it’s turned a golden color, pull from the fryer and onto a bed of napkins to strain and salt lightly immediately.

  6. Shred about half of the cabbage as thin as you can.

  7. To assemble the sandwiches, start with a layer of mayo on the bottom bread, shredded cabbage, 1 to 1 ½ enoki pieces depending on the size, and katsu sauce spread on the top bread piece.