Photo: Kevin Pang

Umami Issues is The Takeout’s exploration of cooking food with the rich, savory, mysterious taste sensation known as umami. 

Which is the greatest sauce? Bearnaise? Heinz 57? Lemon garlic butter? Horsey? For your consideration, please direct your attention to spicy tuna roll mayo.

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Yes, the creamy gunk inside spicy tuna maki that appears in various shades between pink and orange—this is a versatile slather with many applications outside the sushi confines. I now use spicy tuna roll mayo on roast beef or turkey sandwiches, as a chip dip, a salad dressing, and I bet this would even match well with steak. Its secret weapon is Kewpie, the magical Japanese mayonnaise that includes rice vinegar and MSG to give it that appealing umami potency.

This recipe is inspired by the spicy tuna roll mayo used at Dirk’s Fish, my favorite seafood purveyor in Chicago. They wouldn’t reveal the exact ratios (understandable, as they still sell this in their stores), but the shop did reveal it uses Kewpie plus spiciness from three fronts: Chili oil, Sriracha, and the Japanese orange peel-spice blend of togarashi.

The recipe below is catered to my liking, which leans on the spicier end. If you taste this and find my ratio too zingy, just add more Kewpie.

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Photo: Kevin Pang

Spicy tuna roll mayo

2 Tbsp. Kewpie mayo
1 tsp. Sriracha
1/2 tsp. togarashi
1/4 tsp. chili oil

Combine.

Photo: Kevin Pang

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