The Californian food scientist Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking and, to my mind, as influential a writer as Elizabeth David, has experimented on mayonnaise to discover just how much oil and egg yolk can emulsify. The answer was gallons, so it is the ratio of liquid to oil that is crucial when it comes to successful blending of mayonnaise. That and the flavour of course.
Whisk together the egg yolks, mustard and seasoning. Whisk in the oil, initially drop by drop, then as the emulsion becomes stronger, add it more quickly.
Thousands. Crushed garlic or almost any herb can be included. Tartare sauce is made by adding chopped gherkin, capers and parsley. Cocktail sauce – the sweetish pink gunk that usually coats prawn cocktails – is mayonnaise with tomato ketchup and a little extra Worcestershire sauce.
© 2000 Shaun Hill. All rights reserved.