Ubiquitous in homemade Japanese bento lunches, and often a filling in an ordinary sandwich or a layer in a triple-decker sandwich, this creamy mixture hasn’t a drop of soy sauce, a shaving of seaweed, nor a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Called potato sarada in Japanese, the elements are recognizable: golden potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, ham, corn, and Kewpie brand mayonnaise. Warm potatoes are lightly smashed with a spoon, and mixed with thinly sliced carrots and cucumbers, both salted briefly to make a light pickle. Kewpie mayonnaise, which is smoother and sweeter than American brands, contains some MSG. The yellow potatoes will not fall apart or disintegrate after cooking and lend the bowl a nice color.
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|½||cup frozen corn kernels|
|1||carrot, thinly sliced into half-moon shapes|
|1||Persian cucumber skin on, thinly sliced|
|2||teaspoons kosher or small crystal sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste|
|2||large (1¼ pounds) Yukon Gold or other yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks|
|¼||cup Kewpie or other mayonnaise|
|1||thick slice (1½ ounces) baked ham, cut into ½-inch dice|
|2||scallions, finely chopped|
1. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 2 minutes or until it is tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
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2. In separate bowls, sprinkle the carrots and cucumbers with salt to coat them thoroughly.
3. In the saucepan combine the potatoes, a generous pinch of salt, and cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. Drain into a colander. Transfer to a bowl.
4. With a wooden spoon and an up and down motion, break up the potatoes; smashing some against the side of the bowl. With a rubber spatula, fold in the mayonnaise until well blended.
5. With your hands, squeeze the liquid from the carrots and cucumbers, discarding the liquid in the bowls. Fold the vegetables into the potato mixture. Add the ham, corn, half the scallions, and pepper. Toss until well combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining scallions.