Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Keep it Simple

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1993

  • About

There is something magical about mayonnaise... when you look at the ingredients before making it egg yolks, olive oil, lemon juice or wine vinegar, salt and pepper... perhaps a little mustard... a spoonful or two of water... out of their amalgamation comes one of the great cold sauces, a flavour without which summer would be incomplete.

There are purists who claim that true mayonnaise must be made by hand in a stone mortar with a wooden spoon. This is time-consuming and the mayonnaise is prone to separation during the early stages. True, food-processor mayonnaise is a poor imitation of the real thing: but mayonnaise made using a hand-held electric whisk or a food mixer is excellent, and I would challenge anybody to tell the difference between one made in minutes using a whisk and one made by hand. I accept that, given the time, there is an almost sensuous pleasure to be had from making mayonnaise the old-fashioned way: it is an elemental process which is deeply satisfying. However, I do not have the half-hour needed to indulge myself in this way.

Classic mayonnaise is made using only good-quality olive oil, but I find it tastes far too strong and prefer to use a combination of equal quantities of extra virgin olive oil and sunflower oil. The quantities given here are for 575ml / 1pt of mayonnaise. In fact, two egg yolks will hold more oil than that, but the colour is important.

Eggs should not be used straight from the fridge. Take care, however, that the ingredients are not too warm, or you will have difficulty getting the emulsion to gel. Should it separate, just put another egg yolk into a second bowl and beat the curdled mixture into it starting with a few drips until it holds and then pouring more generously.