Why Owen Han Believes Mayonnaise Is The Perfect Base For Any Sauce - Exclusive

Owen Han — aka the Sandwich King — is a TikTok star and chef who loves combining interesting and unexpected ingredients to create elaborate sandwiches. One ingredient you'll find in almost every sandwich of his is a flavorful sauce that complements all of the other elements. Han has an easy hack to bring his saucy creations to life. In an exclusive interview, Han told Mashed that he believes mayonnaise is the perfect base for any sauce.

For one, mayonnaise — which is made from an emulsion of oil, egg yolks, and an acid — acts as a binding agent. Han explains, "I think it's a really good binder. It's also a pretty neutral flavor in itself, so whatever you add to it, it doesn't mask the flavor ... It works with pretty much any and every sandwich and whatever you add to it, you can just make it as complex and diverse as you want." Han admits that part of his reason for using mayonnaise is simply that he loves it, but he also tells us that you can't beat the versatility and ease of using mayo as a base for sauces.

Han uses three types of mayonnaise in his own kitchen: Hellmann's, Duke's, and Kewpie. Hellmann's and Duke's are both American-style mayonnaise, whereas Kewpie is Japanese-style, which is richer because it is made with just the egg yolks. Kewpie also has a distinct flavor from the addition of MSG as well as a few extra spices.

For the love of mayo

By simply combining an ingredient or two with mayo, Owen Han has created an astounding array of sauces. He's elevated his sandwiches by adding a variety of flavorful extras that include saffron, Calabrian chili, chipotle puree, habanero, pesto, blue cheese, herbs, and wasabi.

It's not difficult to turn mayonnaise into a compelling condiment. Han's Calabrian chili mayo uses two tablespoons of chiles to a quarter cup of mayo. For his saffron mayo, because the spice is so expensive, he mixes in just a pinch that he's crushed with a mortar and pestle. Sometimes, he'll add an additional teaspoon of powdered garlic to punch up the flavor. 

With such a diverse range of possible flavors, finding the right pairing may seem daunting, but it is a process of trial and error for Han. He says, "Really a lot of time, I don't know if the flavors will work until I try it." This doesn't mean that he hasn't thought it out. When coming up with his pairings, Han considers the components of the sandwich and tries to contrast and balance the sweet, spicy, and savory. Ultimately, he takes a leap of faith to see whether it will work. For those at home, this can mean using what you have and adding new flavors to old favorites. Will it work? You won't know until you try it.