During the summer we were due to have friends round for Friday dinner, and as per my parents’ usual Friday routine they had been to the fishmongers that morning. This time they had come home with a particularly great haul of seafood: squid, prawns and, best of all, crabs. I really fancied some homemade garlic mayonnaise in which to dip the simply cooked fish, and after a great success whipping up a batch in a basic student kitchen I felt pretty confident. I grabbed the electric whisk (on which I am going to (unfairly) blame this entire story and conclude that I will forever more use a hand whisk for mayonnaise even if my arm drops off) and began separating eggs. I was making a pretty big batch of mayonnaise – about 3 egg yolks worth – and dripping the oil in at a painstakingly slow pace. A few hundred millilitres in and suddenly the mixture split. But never fear! Google and Delia Smith were on hand to reassure me that this was not the disaster it seemed. Simply separate another egg, lightly beat the yolk and then drip in the “ruined” mixture. The mayonnaise will begin to take form again and you can return to incorporating the rest of the oil as planned. So I persevered and eventually turned off the whisk with a huge bowl of the best looking mayonnaise you have ever seen. Ever. I lifted the bowl slightly and tapped the balloons of the whisk off the side of the bowl…..CRASH. As I tapped the whisk on the side, the bottom of the glass bowl had hit the counter top and suddenly the bowl was in dozens of shards, small and large, the beautiful mayonnaise in amongst it. A lot of expletives were uttered as I stood frozen in shock. Mum was switching between laughing at me and feeling sorry for me. To be honest, I was all for risking glass cuts in order to eat the mayonnaise, but she didn’t think that was a great idea….so in the bin it went.
Basically, this is a convoluted way to tell you of a newfound fear of making mayonnaise I developed and how a few weekends ago I overcame this to make mayonnaise once again, this time without a glass fragment topping. And if I can do it, SO CAN YOU. I have just a few tips for you: first of all, some people use half, or even all, olive oil but I find this gives far too rich a flavour so I go for 100% sunflower or vegetable oil. Secondly, I would always use a hand whisk and add the oil as slow as humanly possible to begin with – an extra pair of hands can help at this point. And finally, never ever ever bang the balloon of the whisk off the side of the bowl unless it is flat on the work surface. You have been warned.
2 egg yolks
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
300ml sunflower oil
1. Put the egg yolks, garlic, mustard and vinegar into a large bowl. Whisk together well, with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.
2. Begin to add the oil. This needs to be done very slowly, while you continually whisk the yolks. If you have a helper, get them to drizzle in the oil at an almost painfully slow pace as you whisk. If you’re by yourself, just add a drop at a time to begin with. After about 100ml of oil the mayonnaise will begin to thicken slightly.
3. Continue to pour in the oil. You will suddenly notice that the mayonnaise becomes very thick and at this point you can add the oil a little quicker. Once all the oil has been incorporated you should have an indulgently thick, wobbly mayonnaise.
Serve straight away, or spoon the mayonnaise into a jar or a bowl covered with cling film and store in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of days…although I would be surprised if it lasts that long! It is delicious with steamed or grilled seafood, as a dip for homemade chips, in a burger or with fried chicken, or even just in sandwiches for a real treat. And, believe me, it is worth the effort.