Bento filler: Vegan Japanese potato salad


It’s time to get back my bento mojo! Here’s a vegan version of Japanese potato salad, that is a great bento side dish, or the main carb in a salad bento.

When I think of potato salad, there’s one that reigns supreme: Japanese style potato salad, which is usually made with tons of mayonnaise. But since I’ve lost a few pounds in the last week or so, I didn’t want to derail that. So, here is a vegan version of Japanese style potato salad, which is rather lower in fat and uses a tofu ‘mayo’, which ups the protein. It is a variation on a recipe in a Japanese vegan cookbook that I’ve mentioned several times before on Just Bento and Just Hungry, SaiSai Gohan (Vegetable Meals) by Yumiko Kano.

Here’s my recipe for a traditional Japanese potato salad. This vegan version may look just like the traditional version, but it doesn’t have the same very eggy flavor as the traditional kind of Japanese potato salad since well, it has no eggs in it. But it does have a satisfying creaminess and I think it’s quite good.

This should ideally be made at least a few hours before you intend to eat it, since it needs to be cooled down. So making it the night before is ideal. It will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but no more (the same as regular potato salad) so just make as much as you’ll use up in a couple of bentos and a meal or so.

Recipe: Vegan Japanese-style potato salad

This makes 4 servings, at approximately 160 calories per serving.

  • 3-4 medium to large boiling potatoes, totalling 1 lb/450g in weight after peeling
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • About 1/6th of a small onion
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

The tofu “mayonnaise”:

  • 1/2 cup (120g, or about 4 ounces) firm tofu, well drained (drain out excess moisture by putting it between two plates for a few minutes)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • Pinch of sugar

Peel and cut the carrot in half and slice thinly. Peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks.

Add both to a pot and cover with cold water, add a little salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes and carrots are tender - the cooking time depends on how big you cut them up. Test for doneness by tasting a piece.

In the meantime, seed the cucumber and slice thinly. Slice the onion thinly also. Put both into a small bowl, and sprinkle with a little salt, and massage with your hands so that moisture comes out of the slices and they become quite limp. Squeeze out excess moisture.

Drain the potatoes and carrot well. While still hot, put into a bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and a little salt and pepper. Mix well, and leave until cooled down to room temperature. Mix in the cucumber and onion.

Make the tofu “mayo”: Put all the ingredients into a food processor (the ‘baby food’ bowl is great for this, if your food processor has one) and whiz until totally smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, mash as finely as you can with a fork or your hands. Mix into the potato salad.

Cover and cool in the refrigerator.


This potato salad is delicious even without the tofu ‘mayo’. You may want to season it a tad more at the stage where you add the lemon juice and olive oil. Try adding olives and capers for a very zesty non-creamy potato salad. The tofu ‘mayo’-less version keeps a bit better, so may be a better choice in hot weather if you can’t keep the salad somewhere cool, or pack it with an ice pack.

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Nice to see you’re back!

Nice to see you’re back! Hope everything OK for you.

i’m feeling a lot better -

i’m feeling a lot better - thank you for asking :)


do you need to cook the tofu before mixing the tofu “mayonnaise?

the tofu shouldn’t be

the tofu shouldn’t be cooked or it won’t be creamy at all (so be sure to use fresh tofu!)

Re: Bento filler: Vegan Japanese potato salad

How much tofu mayo does that recipe make? 1/2 cup? more? less?

Re: Bento filler: Vegan Japanese potato salad

Thank you for this recipe. I was having a craving for potato salad, but my other searches of vegan potato salad were much fussier and not as economical as yours.

I look forward to trying out the original Japanese version, when I get some more rice vinegar, but it translated well into a traditional Southern-style potato salad.

Re: Bento filler: Vegan Japanese potato salad

Hi Maki,

Fantastic website. I picked up some soy mayonnaise when I was in Japan a few weeks ago to make this recipe but haven't had a chance to use it yet. I'm too lazy to make my own mayonnaise- although your recipe sounds very simple!

Have you tried commercially produced soy mayonnaise in this recipe?


Re: Bento filler: Vegan Japanese potato salad

Thanks for this! I made it tonight and it was so yummy! I picked up some soy mayo at Sotetsu Rosen, so I just used that - though they're not selling it anymore, so when I run out I'll be sure to use your tofu mayo recipe too!

Vegan Mayo

If you want to cut down on time you could just buy vegan mayo. My favorite brand is Vegenaise made with grapeseed oil. It would cut down on your prep time and give you the same creamy goodness as regular mayo. I don't know if it's sold outside of the U.S., but I've found it almost anywhere with a health food section.

Re: Vegan Mayo

Other than tofu mayo, though, Vegenaise is still very fatty ;-) I usually make my soy mayonnaise myself because that way I can control completely what goes into it, but regular soy mayo is still high in fat.

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