People are scared of making their own mayonnaise. The technique’s really hard and the stuff you get in jars is fine. Or every time you try to make it, it splits.
There are several recipes out there that make mayo-making a lot simpler than traditional methods. Typically these involve using a blade food processor rather than the traditional whisking method. And they taste pretty good, too.
But mayo made by slowly whisking oil into egg yolks yields a superior end product. Its unctuous loveliness is unsurpassed, and to be honest, makes shop bought mayonnaise look like a quite different food. Pleasant enough, but not befitting the name mayonnaise.
So, this is a traditional method recipe, but I describe a technique that doesn’t fail, if you follow it.
250 ml neutral tasting oil: rapeseed, for instance
50 ml good olive oil
2 egg yolks at room temperature.
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Good pinch of rock salt
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon warm water (optional)
Hand soap (you’ll see)
Clean tea towel (likewise)
Electric hand whisk, or balloon whisk for the exercise, if you want
Large mixing bowl
- Wash your hands with the soap. Then rinse well so no perfumes from the soap remain on your hands, and dry them well.
- Make sure the bowl is bone dry and place it on the folded tea towel.
- Mix the oils together in a measuring jug and place the jug right next to the mixing bowl.
- Put the egg yolks, salt and mustard in the bowl and whisk them for 15 seconds.
- With the whisks still going, dip the very tip of your finger of the hand you’re not using to whisk, into the oil. Let the one drop of oil fall from your fingertip into the moving whisks. Whisk for 10 seconds.
- Repeat step 5 ten times. Don’t be tempted to whisk for less time, or start putting in more than one drop.
- Now repeat, but dip your finger into the oil up to the first knuckle, so a three or four drops are getting into the whirring whisks. Again, do that 10 times, with 10 seconds between each helping of oil.
- Repeat again, but dip your finger into the oil up to the second knuckle. You’ll have to move your hand from the measuring jug pretty sharpish to hover over the whisks. Repeat 10 times with 10 seconds between additions of oil.
- Your mixture will have thickened nicely by now. Things can’t really go wrong from now on, unless you put your mind to it.
- Now you can dip two fingers into the oil to increase the amount of oil you’re putting in. Repeat until about half the oil is gone. It won’t take long.
- Once half the oil is gone, you can trickle the rest of the oil in from the measuring jug, in a very thin stream.
- After all the oil is incorporated, whisk in the vinegar and if you like a thinner mayonnaise, add the water.
- Test the seasoning. If you’re like me, you’ll probably add more salt.
- Use a Chinese mustard or some horseradish for a kick. Wasabi works too, but try and source a decent one.
- Substitute a herb oil for the olive oil, or use a sesame oil (but go easy if you’re using toasted sesame oil; use less than a teaspoon).
- Mix through some garlic that you’ve crushed to a paste to make aioli.
- Use lemon, yuzu or lime juice instead of vinegar.
- The addition of saffron gives a wonderful colour and taste.
The mayonnaise keeps well in the fridge for a week or so; just be careful not to use dirty utensils to spoon it out.
O, and the usual caveats about eating raw egg products apply here. If you’re of a nervous disposition or are pregnant, you may want to avoid mayonnaise altogether. You can buy pasteurised egg yolks in jars, but I’ve never used them.