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According to Amazon, Kewpie mayonnaise contains vegetable oil, egg yolk, vinegar, salt, MSG and spices (no sugar). Hellmann's (which I specify only because it seems like it's the 'canonical' American mayonnaise) contains soybean oil, water, whole eggs & egg yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice, natural flavors and calcium disodium edta.

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To me, the Kewpie mayonnaise seems sweeter, even though it doesn't contain sugar, and the Hellmann's does contain sugar. But that's not even the big difference to me. Somehow, the Kewpie is just "right" in sushi rolls and for just about every other application from that part of the word that benefits from mayonnaise. Yet, I find Kewpie just awful on a bologna sandwich. How are they so different?

If I make mayonnaise, the list of ingredients will look more like the Kewpie, but taste more like Hellmann's.

What gives?

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    I wonder if it's because it's made with rice vinegar it ends up tasting a bit sweeter? I prefer it as well but have never thought to try making it so not really sure but could be worth a try. – PeterJ Jan 24 '15 at 11:59
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    @PeterJ Hmmm, that's a possibility. I'll try to confirm that the vinegar in Kewpie is rice vinegar (unless you already know that?). – Jolenealaska Jan 24 '15 at 12:04
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    @PeterJ AHA! Yes, you're right. The vinegar in Kewpie is rice vinegar. I suspect that is the answer. I'll make mayo tomorrow with rice vinegar, and that should confirm it. If you beat me to it, I'll accept your answer :) I won't answer myself until after I make the mayo, but if you write an answer, I'll accept it if my little experiment backs it up as the answer to the question. – Jolenealaska Jan 24 '15 at 12:46
  • It contains MSG! (which = flavor awesomeness!) – moscafj Jan 24 '15 at 13:41
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    Here's some info on various mayos. The difference could also be that Kewpie is made with just yolks while American mayo is usually whole eggs. – SourDoh Jan 24 '15 at 14:19
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I have used kelp stock powder (konbu dashi) to season a homemade mayo, which I thought made it taste a lot like kewpie.

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OK, I did it. The rice vinegar was definitely the biggest difference. A pinch of MSG (Accent) sealed the deal. I found a recipe on Serious Eats. I tasted after every addition, saving the MSG for last. It wouldn't be as close having skipped anything that I used.

I didn't have real hon-dashi or Japanese mustard, but I had some instant miso soup powder and some Colman's mustard. It was close enough. I also used just rice vinegar, I didn't have any malt vinegar.

I don't have any real Kewpie to do a side by side comparison, but I can tell this is pretty close. It's definitely much closer to Kewpie than Hellmann's.

Everything that has been said here was right.

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Kewpie mayo contains MSG. This boosts the umami flavor. Perhaps you can approximate Kewpie in your homemade by playing with the addition of MSG.

  • You know I will look at MSG too! :) I feel kind of silly though that rice vinegar didn't even occur to me. – Jolenealaska Jan 24 '15 at 13:48

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