How to make mayonnaise

Is it a sauce or condiment? No, it’s a miracle in which you, the beginner cook, learn how to mix oil and water. Whether you want to add some magic to boiled potatoes, rev up a burger or create a flavoursome dip, this is the way to go.

To make an outstanding basic mayonnaise, you will need:

  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 additional yolks
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 500ml canola oil

Back in the old days, hearty French peasants would make mayonnaise by hand. We hearty South African peasants are blessed with a more or less uninterrupted supply of electricity. So instead of a ball whisk, forearms like Popeye and the psychological capacity to endure long periods of mind-bending boredom, all you need is a food processor. Ensure that all ingredients are at room temperature, otherwise the emulsion will fail and you will end up with a bowl of yellow slime.

Begin by separating the yolks from three eggs. Next, combine all the ingredients on the list, except the canola oil, within the vessel of the food processor. Rev this up for a minute or 90 seconds to mix the contents well. With the motor running, carefully pour the oil down the spout. What you must achieve is a thin stream of oil, poured slowly into the machine. In a short while, the mass of ingredients will combine into a thick, good-looking emulsion. Congratulations! You have made your first mayonnaise.

Now for some theory. Given this writer’s self-evident enthusiasm for extra virgin olive oil, why does this recipe use canola? Apart from cost, it’s all about flavour. In a sauce like this, olive oil dominates too much. In my view, the taste of olive oil in mayonnaise overwhelms rather than enhances the other flavours of the meal. So now we have fresh mayonnaise waiting to meet the gently boiled potatoes of your dreams. But wait, that’s not all! With only a little ingenuity, you can add a variety of ingredients to enhance and transform your mayonnaise.

You can start by adding a dessertspoon of coarse Dijon mustard. This provides new accents to the flavour and alters the appearance of the sauce. Dijon mustard-enhanced mayonnaise serves you well as a salad dressing. The next adventure in terms of upgrading the mayonnaise involves fresh herbs – the more aromatic the better. Finely chopped fresh basil or mint should be stirred gently into the plain mayonnaise using a ball whisk or fork.

The manual labour demanded here recognises that you want visual evidence of the fragrant herbs you choose. Herbs chopped by hand and stirred into the mix retain their shape and texture while too vigorous a blending in the food processor produces an undesirable light green paste.

Other upgrades, alone or in combination, include finely-chopped fresh garlic, pickled cucumbers, capers and de-pipped olives. Chilli lovers can add either finely chopped red chillies with or without the pips, or for more fire control, a dash or two of Red Tabasco. And a final reminder: all your ingredients must be at room temperature before you start.

Contact David Basckin at [email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.