On Sunday morning, Lifehacker suggested that the surefire way to make pancakes a bit fluffier was to mix a dollop of mayonnaise into the batter. The tweet for this article was accompanied by a photograph of a “pancake” as tall as a building brick, challenging widely-held conceptions of what constitutes a pancake at all. It’s a bouffant sponge of a thing. A pancake wearing a Bumpit.
The tweet sent Twitter into a collective tailspin. This is just a cake, sans the “pan.” It’s a soufflé. Stop this, some of the more impassioned onlookers muttered, likening it to white nonsense of the highest order; the utter caucasity, protesters screamed into the void.
Joke’s on you, folks. The recipe is Japanese.
The Lifehacker article, published Sunday morning, had lifted a page from a Food52 article published nearly two weeks before that had, in turn, home-tested a recipe that had been ricocheting across Japanese Twitter late last month, wherein one culinary virtuoso revealed the trick to making a perfect Japanese pancake, which are known to be quite tall.
It’s a recipe that calls for an egg, 2/3 cup of carbonated water, and two tablespoons of Kewpie mayonnaise in a pot, followed by 150 grams of pancake mix stirred gently and then put to a low flame over a stove. Three minutes on each side results in a crispy shell, thanks to the seltzer, along with fluffy innards due to the mayo.
Both Food52 and Lifehacker advocated for substituting Kewpie mayonnaise—which is a touch sweeter than most commercial American mayonnaise, its flavors more subtle—with Hellmann’s, whose flavors have the subtlety of a sledgehammer. That may explain, in part, the widespread revulsion to the mere idea of this concoction. Still, America is no stranger to sticking mayonnaise in seemingly unexpected places; you really haven’t lived if you haven’t made a chocolate mayonnaise cake.
“At first, when I heard this, my immediate reaction was, ew gross!” Adrianna Adarme, author of Pancakes: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack, wrote MUNCHIES Monday morning. “But after I let it sink in, I remembered that a long time ago, I made a Southern chocolate cake that called for mayonnaise and it was amazing! And the seltzer water isn’t a surprise either because there are a ton of batters and cakes that benefit from sparkling water. A lot of Southerners use 7-UP in their cakes for added lightness—it works!”
“Don’t ridicule something until you’ve tried it, especially when it comes to foreign foods,” food blogger Angela Lattimer wrote MUNCHIES on Monday afternoon. “The kewpie mayo is sweet and adds a smoothness. For me, using kewpie mayo is a bit like including yogurt. They both work beautifully in the right recipe.” Lattimer’s got a mean recipe for thick, fluffy Japanese style pancakes with mayo on her blog, Bake It With Love; it’s one of many mayo pancakes floating around the internet.
“Mayonnaise is essentially just egg and oil, the reason for its slightly funky smell is that vinegar is also added,” mononymous blogger Shihoko of Chopstick Chronicles writes in the preamble to her 2015 recipe for these pancakes. “But when mayonnaise is baked, the vinegar evaporates, thereby eliminating any taste or smell of mayo and just leaving the pure base of egg and oil.”
Shihoko did not respond to immediate requests for comment from MUNCHIES regarding how she feels about this recipe making so many people so upset. Either way, she’s right: Mayonnaise is just eggs and oil, emulsified. Everyone, please calm down.
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