You can’t beat homemade mayonnaise. It’s quick and easy to make and goes brilliantly with seafood, cold or barbecued meats and salads.
Mayonnaise is an emulsion (a solution of two ingredients that won’t normally mix together) – in this case, egg yolks and oil. But by slowly adding one ingredient to the other while simultaneously whisking, you disperse and suspend tiny droplets of one through the other. The emulsion works better if both the yolks and oil are at room temperature, so take the eggs out of the fridge about half an hour before you need them.
The French insist on using olive oil, but a lot of British people feel regular or extra-virgin olive oil is too overpowering. So use a light or mild olive oil or, failing that, half regular olive oil and half sunflower oil. Aïoli, the garlic mayonnaise from Provence, is traditionally made with a good olive oil.
If the mayonnaise does split or separate while you’re making it, don’t worry. Beat a fresh egg yolk in a clean bowl and slowly add the split mayonnaise while whisking deftly.
It’s also worth noting that mayonnaise keeps well in the fridge for up to five days, so whip up a big bowl that you can dip into.
This recipe makes about 300ml of mayonnaise – enough for 4-6 people.
1. Place a folded cloth underneath a medium bowl to stop the bowl sliding while you whisk. Add 2 medium egg yolks, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and a little seasoning, and whisk well until smooth.
2. Measure out 300ml of light olive oil in a measuring jug and add it to the egg mixture in a slow, steady trickle, whisking with your other hand, until about two-thirds of the oil is incorporated and you have a mixture that’s quite thick and holds its shape in soft peaks.
3. Whisk in 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar, then whisk in the remaining oil in a steady stream. If it’s a little thick, whisk in 1-2 teaspoons warm water to give a consistency that you like.
Make it easier: You can also make mayonnaise in your food processor (if your processor is large, you’ll need to double up on the quantities). With the motor running, gradually add the mild olive oil through the open funnel of the food processor.
Flavoured mayonnaise options
Basil and lime. Swap lemon juice and water for lime juice and a handful of chopped basil. Serve with salads, sandwiches, fish and cold meat.
Stir in a dash of Tabasco and brandy, a pinch of smoked paprika and 2 tablespoons ketchup. Use for prawn cocktails.
Add 1/2 finely chopped shallot, a few chopped capers, gherkins, chives and parsley. Serve with deep-fried fish or fishcakes.
Rémoulade. Add a few chopped gherkins and capers, a few parsley, chervil and tarragon leaves and a dash of anchovy essence (from Sainsbury’s or Waitrose). Serve with shellfish.
Makes enough for 6-8 people.
Put 6 crushed garlic cloves, 3 egg yolks, 3 tablespoons fresh white breadcrumbs, 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar and a little seasoning into a bowl and whisk well (or whizz in a food processor). Gradually whisk in 300ml good olive oil in a slow, steady trickle (or pour through the funnel with the motor running). Whisk in 1 tablespoon warm water and check the seasoning. Serve as a dip with fresh crudités.
Recipes with mayonnaise
Egg with mustard mayo and cress
Indian coleslaw with simple gammon