Classic Mayonnaise


Make mayonnaise with a whisk, or, for the faint-hearted, a hand-held electric mixer to beat in the oil. Adding a small amount of Dijon mustard to the yolks, along with the lemon juice and seasoning, helps the sauce to emulsify as well as flavouring it. The proportion of oil to egg yolk can be varied, depending on the consistency desired, but in general, 1 egg yolk ‘holds’ about 150 ml (¼ pint) oil; if too much oil is added or if you add it too quickly, the sauce separates.

If the sauce does separate or curdle, there are several ways to save it. Begin with a clean bowl and another beaten egg yolk and a pinch of salt and slowly whisk the curdled mixture into the new egg yolk until it emulsifies again. You can also whisk the curdled mixture into a little mustard, lemon juice or vinegar, but be careful the flavour does not become too strong.

Store in the refrigerator for 2–3 days, but bring it to room temperature before stirring or it could curdle. Mayonnaise is the ideal sauce to serve with cold fish, poultry, vegetables, eggs and salads. There are many popular variations too, such as aϊoli, a garlic-flavoured mayonnaise. Makes 300 ml (½ pint).

  1. Set a small bowl on a folded tea towel or kitchen cloth to prevent the bowl moving about as you whisk vigorously. Whisk 2 egg yolks with a little salt, white pepper, tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar and 2–3 teaspoons Dijon mustard until the mixture is well blended and lightened. This stage takes about 1 minute.

  2. Gradually add up to 300 ml (½ pint) oil, drop by drop, whisking constantly. It is easy to add the oil drop by drop if you just let it drip off a spoon. Do not add the oil too quickly or the mixture may curdle. When the sauce begins to thicken, pour the oil in a very slow stream until the mayonnaise reaches the desired consistency. Season to taste.