Kanako's Kitchen

Goma-ae: Dainty Carrot and Green Bean Salad

Posted in Recipe, side dish by Kanako Noda on October 28, 2009

gomaaeHere’s another of those “chopstick vacations” I wrote about last week – tiny little side dishes designed not to stand on their own but, instead, to contrast with the other dishes you put on the table. Goma-ae is an example of how you can make such a dish with just four ingredients: a tasty and refreshing break from any big meal.

Why is this a good idea? Because when you make a seriously Japanese meal, it’s easy to end up with a lot of dishes that more or less belong to the same family of tastes, often marked out by the use of soy sauce. When cooking for guests, you want to surprise their palates now and then with a refreshing dish that tastes like nothing else on the table. For those occasions, this mayonnaise-based salad is just the ticket.

I know, I know: mayonnaise sounds like it shouldn’t come anywhere near a Japanese kitchen. You’d be surprised, though: kewpieJapanese people love mayo, and by mayo they mean one specific brand, which has all but cornered the Japanese market. Kewpie has been selling mayonnaise in Japan since 1925, and its distinctive formulation just tastes like home to us. It’s a little bit embarrassing to say, but a lot of Japanese people abroad prefer Kewpie mayo to French mayonnaise…and, well, the less said about American-style mayo, the better.

If you can’t  find kewpie where you live – or don’t want to pay the extortionate prices Asian stores typically charge for it – just squeeze a little bit of extra lime into regular mayonnaise, and you get something close.

Ingredients (for four)


  • Green beans – about 30 of them
  • Carrots – One large one
  • Mayonnaise – Kewpie brand, if possible – two tablespoons
  • Sesame seeds – two tablespoons
  • Salt – to taste


  • Snap off ends of green beans, boil for about 3 minutes
  • Drain green beans and rinse with cold water
  • Slice longitudinally, into thin strips
  • Peel the carrots, cut them into fine little sticks, boil them in salted water for about 4 minutes
  • Drain the carrots, rinse with cold water
  • Make sure to get rid of all excess moisture in the carrots, shaking them thoroughly in a strainer
  • Mix together the green beans, carrots, mayo and sesame seeds
  • Taste and add salt if needed

boil french beans Slice longitudinally cut carrots into fine little sticks

boil carrots in salted water Rinse with cold water Mix together the green beans, carrots

add sesame finish gomaae click to enlarge

As usual with a “chopstick vacation”, you should think of this more as a way to accentuate the taste of the other dishes you’re making than as a dish in itself. That’s why goma-ae is always served in very small portions.

with mayo

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7 Responses

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  1. Mitchi said, on October 29, 2009 at 1:13 am

    I’m wondering, would this keep well in the fridge If you made too much? Also, this seems like something that would go well with a Korean meal as a side (since the banchan are always served in tiny portions with a myriad of them).

    Also, I’ve seen several recipes online and in cookbooks for making Japanese style mayo, and I was wondering if you’ve ever made any yourself, or if you recommend it (as far as getting the taste right).

    Thanks for posting this!

    • kanako said, on October 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm

      If you make this too much, you can keep it in the fridge for maybe one day. Not so long time.
      And I’ve never made mayo by myself but I think it would surely be more delicious.

  2. Juan & Katy said, on November 1, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I made this yesterday Kanako, along with the Beeck & green peppers and he Chestnut rice (sans chestnuts). It was a huge success, thanks! The rice was pretty good even without the chestnuts (and in spite of me almost burning it)…

  3. Juan & Katy said, on November 1, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Sorry, the above should read “Beef & green peppers and the Chestnut rice”. Note to self – do not post comments while drunk.

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