More about Yohshoku

Previously, I wrote about yohshoku, or Japanese-style western cuisine. Prompted by a question from Elise, I've done a bit more research on this. (Much of this is gathered from a book in the Just Look Just Cook cookbook series from Yomiuri Shimbun Co., called "Yoshoku in Japan". (Note that it can be spelled Yohshoku or Yoshoku.))

There are two types of Western-style cooking in Japan. One is the authentic kind, that is available in real French, Italian, etc. restaurants. The other kind is the type of western-style cooking that has been adapted to Japanese tastes, and into Japanese homes as part of everyday cooking. Japanese people are very adept at adopting a foreign culture and making it part of their own, and food is no exception. In general, yohshoku can be classified as western-style food that has been changed and adapted so that it fits well with rice rather than with bread - thus making it uniquely Japanese.

Here are the basic ingredients used for yohshoku.

  • Bechamel sauce, aka "white sauce". A sauce made by thickening flavored milk with a butter and flour roux. Canned or vacuum-packed white sauce is a kitchen staple in Japan.
  • Demi-glace sauce is soup stock that has been reduced until thick and gelatinous. This is also a kitchen staple in Japan (canned or in jars).
  • Tomato sauce or canned tomatoes.
  • Meat sauce - made with ground beef and tomato sauce. This is also widely available canned in Japan, though many people make their own of course.
  • Mayonnaise. The most popular brand in Japan is called Kewpie, and it's a thick, yellow mayonnaise. To me, it's the most delicious commercial brand, almost as good as making your own.
  • Soup stock cubes. (The big brands in Japan are the Swiss - Knorr and Maggi.)
  • Grated cheese. In Japan most people use the pre-grated kinds.
  • Herbs used mainly as decoration, but for flavoring too: parsley, chervil, arugula, and dill. (You never used to see arugula in cookbooks until the last 10 years or so, but parsley, chervil and dill have been around for ages.) Bay leaf is also used a lot for soups and stews.
Filed under:  basics japanese yohshoku

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in japan, do they have a dish where the mayonnaise is smothering the chilled prawns, honeydew and celery?

the chinese restaurants in SE asia started serving it this way about 10 yrs back.


Wena, the only sort of "traditiona" uses of mayonnaise I can think of in Japan is as a salad dressing, especially for potato salad. I love Japanese potato salad...though it has tons and tons of mayonnaise in it.

The other way mayonnaise is used is as a sauce for okonomiyaki, which is often described as Japanese pizza...I'll have to post a recipe for that soon. :)

Mayonnaise with shrimp, melon and celery sounds...strange. I'd have to try it... (though I hate the use of mayonnaise/ketchup sauce for that rather awful '70s appetizer that seems to be making a comeback, prawn or shrimp cocktail...)

I never knew there was an official name for it. Thanks for enlightening me!

Shrimp cocktail sauce contains no mayonnaise. It's bascially ketchup or chili sauce with horseradish. I rather like it. Costco sells humungous trays of shrimp with cocktail sauce at very cheap prices: you can really scarf all the shrimp you want.

Mayonnaise is put on any any sort of sandwich in Japan, including tonkatsu sandwiches. Given that tonkatsu has its own distinctive sauce, I don't know why they need to add mayonnaise. Mos Burger puts just a tiny bit on their hamburgers, not enough to taste, but enough to gross out mayonnaise phobics like myself.

I hate mayonnaise, and I hate having to peer closely at menu pictures and interrogate restaurant staff before I can order anything.

I love Kewpie mayonnaise! It's the only mayonnaise I really can stand. My cousin once made blanched white asparagus and dabbed Kewpie mayonnaise on top-- it was delicious.

Hmm, the shrimp cocktail I've had in recent years seems to come with a sort of tomato-and-mayonnaise dipping sauce, sort of like Thousand Island dressing. I prefer the good old tomato and horseradish "cocktail sauce" though - even with (slay me) raw clams.

I think Delia Smith has a recipe for a tomato-and-mayonnaise dipping sauce for prawn cocktail in one of her recent books too.

the one i had wasn't a shrimp cocktail. no thousand island sauce in sight.

oh, please do post a recipe for okonomiyaki! I have been enjoying it a small stall here in NYC, but would like to try to make it at home too...

Okonomiyaki - the only pizza with mayonnaise on it :-)

Mayonnaise isn't my favorite, either, but Nihon cuisine has redefined it for me. They use it on maki rolls (lest we forget). They'll use the real good Kewpie brand, and they'll also use it sparingly - just enough to moisten and bind.

I'm going to experiment with some variations in weeks to come, including:

- Adding wasabi to mayonnaise, again mainly for use on maki rolls.

- Sesame oil. Mayonnaise, after all, is a simple emulsion of egg yolk protein in an oil. My intuition is that I should use a mixture of sesame and cannola, or a similar oil, because sesame oil can be real strong.

- Soy protein mayonnaise. This time soy substitutes for the egg yolk. Maybe miso paste would be great for this?

- Kewpie flavored with asian chili paste or spiracha. Should be nothing short of tremdous on fish.

- Fold in some sugar and a little whipped cream for a dessert topping with body and character, that's also a little less Western.

does anyone know where i maybe able to purchase canned demi-glace sauce in new york city?

would love to use it as sauce on top of omu-rice.


This is kind of out of the blue and a really late post, but is it true that Asian countries believe that westerners put mayo on a lot of things?

Also, on the shrimp with mayo, I've had a Chinese dish that is hot with shrimp (I think it's fried), walnuts, and broccoli as a garnish where the shrimp is covered in mayo.

Since "Asian countries" covers a lot of countries with big populations, I have to say...I have no idea.

I don't think Japanese people think that all westerners put mayonnaise on everything, but then I can't really speak for them either! Japanese people do put mayonnaise on a lot of things themselves.

Western or European cooking does have the reputation for using a lot of sauces, and when it comes to American food, it has a reputation for being sort of fattening (and coming in huge portions) I guess.

I was in Penang Malaysia a few months ago we had fried wontons served with mayonnaise - we had never seen fried wonton's served with mayonnaise before. It was super yummy, I actually bought some Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie) and made wontons when we got back to Australia and now I'm hooked! Not the healthiest food but hey we don't eat it too often so it's ok!