There’s no denying that macaroni salad is one of the definitive kings of the summer cookout. It goes perfectly with steak, grilled chicken, and is the perfect foil for anything slathered in barbecue sauce. The kids love it, the adults expect it to be around somewhere, and there’s good reason for that.
It’s freaking good.
But there’s an issue here. American macaroni salad is almost a formula. It’s macaroni, mayo, pickles/relish, mustard, onions, celery, and peppers. That’s pretty much it. By the time you’ve had it a few times, it’s freaking boring. Way too much mayo, way too little flavor. Come on guys, we can do better than that!
But luckily, we don’t have to come up with a new formula on our own. We just have to cast our gaze a little wider. In this case, all the way to the other side of the world. (At least from my personal perspective.) Other countries have done macaroni salad, and the Japanese do it extremely well. Japanese macaroni salad is lighter, cleaner, and more refreshing than the ones I grew up with in my youth. It’s a clean, simple recipe that incorporates Japanese values and culture and mixes them with a decidedly Western dish.
And they nailed it, at least in my opinion.
But enough of me rambling on about how Japanese macaroni salad is something you have to try (because it’s so awesome), let’s jump in and make it, shall we?
Let’s make Japanese macaroni salad:
You’ll need 16 ounces of macaroni noodles, 3/4 cup of sweet corn kernels, 2 hard boiled eggs, 1/2 of an onion, an English cucumber (or 2 Persian cucumbers), some salt and pepper, and some Japanese mayonnaise (If you can’t find Japanese mayo, you can just go with the normal stuff, but it will affect the final product a bit.)
First, slice that cucumber down as thinly as you can.
Toss it in a bowl and add about a tablespoon of salt.
Give all that a good mix, making sure the salt is distributed everywhere. Then set aside.
Start cooking your macaroni according to the manufacturer’s directions. For me that usually means about 8 minutes in boiling salted water.
Peel your hard boiled eggs. And don’t worry if they aren’t perfect. (Seriously, who ever makes a perfectly peeled hard boiled egg?!?) We’re just gonna chop ’em up in a minute anyway, so they don’t have to be pretty.
Yep. There we go. Roughly chop those eggs, toss ’em in a bowl and set them aside.
Now slice 1/2 of an onion in thin strips as shown below in this dramatic shot.
Then dice up 4 slices of ham deli meat into cubes (Well, squares. – Whatever. Just cut them however you want to.)
Now on to the hardest part of this gig. Squeeze the liquid out of your cucumbers.
I don’t mean just give ’em a hug. You gotta squeeze these things like you’re Thor, standing on the fields of battle and crushing your foes in your hand. (Or you can be Wonder Woman if you’d like. it doesn’t matter, just show no mercy here!)
By now your macaroni should be done, so drain it off, then rinse in cold water. (I know, not the norm anymore, but it works here, so trust me on this one!)
Toss the noodles into a large bowl, then toss everything else in with them.
Mix all of this up well, cover in plastic wrap and let it chill out in the fridge for about an hour.
Now, eat it! You can pair this Japanese macaroni salad with almost anything you would pair the standard American version with. And if you don’t like ham, feel free to add whatever it is you love into this recipe. I’m sure it’ll be amazing.
Now for the printable Japanese Macaroni Salad Recipe
- 2 cups (16 ounces) Macaroni noodles
- 1 English (Continental) cucumber, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup sweet yellow corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 red onion, halved and sliced thinly
- 4 slices ham lunch meat or deli ham, cut into about 1/2-inch squares
- 2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise, (preferably Japanese mayonnaise, but pretty much any kind will do.)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Slice cucumber as thinly as possible. Place in a large bowl and add about 1 Tablespoon salt. Mix well, ensuring that the salt covers all of the cucumber slices. set aside.
- Heat a pot of salted water to boiling and cook macaroni according to package directions. drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well.
- Aggressively squeeze the cucumbers to remove as much water as possible. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and for up to 2 days.
- Share and enjoy.
What I would have done differently:
Nothing, really. But do take into account that every Japanese family has their own recipe for macaroni salad, just like American or Canadian families do. So feel free to change yours up based on your preferences.
And there you go, guys. The absolute best macaroni salad you will ever freaking eat.
Or at least everyone in my family thinks so.
Get those grills fired up… because it’s #CookoutWeek 2017!
This week, I’m joining forces with over 40 food blogger friends to bring you delicious recipes perfect for every backyard BBQ, picnic, summer party, or cookout.
We also have a fabulous giveaway featuring products from the brands who have made #CookoutWeek possible! You can enter below to win:
- From blog host The PinterTest Kitchen: $100 Amazon gift card, to use to buy all the supplies you need for your next cookout
- From our sponsor The French Farm: A gift pack of gourmet products hand-crafted by small businesses and using only the finest ingredients – La Favorita Genovese Pesto, Caprichos del Guadalquivir Cadenera Orange Marmalade, and L’Abeille Occitane Lavender Honey
- From our sponsor Smokin’-Os: A sampler pack of their “smokin’-os” wood rings, to help you add wood-fired, smokey taste to your grilled foods, even if you don’t own a smoker
- From our sponsor Primal Kitchen: $200 of Primal Kitchen goodies, including condiments made with avocado oil and bars and shakes with grass-fed collagen
- From our sponsor Langers Juice Company: Your choice of 10 bottles of Langers Juice, with flavors including traditional Apple and Grape, as well as interesting mixes such as Pineapple Orange Coconut, Cranberry Blood Orange, and Mango Peach
- From our sponsor True Made Foods: A 3-bottle sampler pack of sauces with real flavors made from real vegetables and less sugar – Ketchup, BBQ, and Veracha
This prize pack has an ARV of over $400! You have until July 1 at 11:59 PM to enter by following our sponsors and bloggers on social media:
Stay tuned… remember, throughout the week, all of the participating bloggers will be posting delicious cookout recipes. Here are all the bloggers who are part of #CookoutWeek 2017:
The PinterTest Kitchen • 2 Cookin Mamas • A Day in the Life on the Farm • A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures • Amy’s Cooking Adventures • Ashees Cookbook • Baking Sense • Body Rebooted • Bottom Left of the Mitten • Chef Sarah Elizabeth • Cook’s Hideout • Cookaholic Wife • Cooking with Sapana • Eat, Drink, Be Healthy! • Fairyburger • Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice • Family Around the Table • Fix Me a Little Lunch • For the Love of Food • Full Belly Sisters • Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks • Home Sweet Homestead • Join Us, Pull up a Chair • Kate’s Recipe Box • Kelly Lynn’s Sweets and Treats • Little House Big Alaska • My Southern Sweet Tooth • Our Good Life • Oven Tales By Syama • Palatable Pastime • Rants From My Crazy Kitchen • Savory Moments • Seduction in the Kitchen • Sidewalk Shoes • That Recipe • The Freshman Cook • The Mad Scientists Kitchen • The Pajama Chef • The Redhead Baker • The Saucy Southerner • The Spiffy Cookie • The Weekday Gourmet • Tramplingrose • Turnips 2 Tangerines • Uncle Jerry’s Kitchen
As one of the bonus entries in the giveaway, leave a comment on this blog post… what is your favorite side dish to eat at a cookout?