Mayonnaise is the easiest thing in the world to make, and I am always surprised that people don’t do it more often. We whip up a batch just about every week and nothing tastes better than a dollop of the silky, sensuous stuff on a pile of steamed asparagus for a quicka and stylish starter. Sure, there’s the risk of it not emulsifying but if you make it properly, and add the oil in a very thin and steady stream while beating steadily, you should not pick up any problems.
This recipe handed down to Salvelio by his Spanish mother is simple, but always hits the spot. It also provides a good basis if you want to flavour the mayo further, for example by adding herbs, or even a bit of tomato sauce for “pink sauce”. Don’t cringe – even the best chefs, like Nigella, will confess their nostalgia for “pink sauce”, classically (and more classily!) referred to as Marie Rose sauce. Ah, Marie Rose sauce, that endearing – and enduring – symbol of ’70s cooking… how I long for my Dad’s Avocado Ritz right now!
Incidentally, mayonnaise is widely regarded as a Spanish invention, even though the French and practically every other nation have embraced it as their own. The oldest records of “salsa mahonesa” can be traced back to the town of Mahon, in Menorca, which is part of the Spanish Balearic Islands.
Many mayonnaise recipes also call for the addition of a little bit of mustard, but that is definitely a French touch as no self-respecting Spaniard would sully his or her mayonnaise in this way. (Half a teaspoon of Dijon should do the trick; opt for less if using a stronger mustard. Add it right at the beginning, before adding the oil.)
Personally, I like it plain and simple, with a nice tang, as per Salvelio’s family recipe below. If, however, it’s a bit too acidic for you, then just use only one tablespoon of vinegar.
Also, because you’re using raw egg, try to use the best quality eggs you can find, certainly free-range and if possible organic. I also use good-quality vinegar and pale-as-straw cold-pressed sunflower oil, the pricey one by Flora, to bluff myself that it’s healthier that it really is. You can be sure though, that it’ll have none of the additives or inferior ingredients of shop mayo – and it’ll cost a fraction of the price.
Incidentally, the Spaniards often use olive oil for their mayonnaise, but I find this a touch overpowering. And Salvelio never measures out the oil – he can judge when enough is enough – but I keep the measuring cup handy just in case.
A stick blender works very well for making mayo, but I remember my mom used to do it in a regular blender and hers worked just fine. You could even use an electric or hand beater or, if you’re feeling strong, a good old-fashioned whisk.
This recipe yields about 300ml of mayo and should last for a couple of days in the fridge. – Louise Liebenberg
1 extra-large egg; 2 tbsp or less white grape or wine vinegar; 1/2 tsp fine sea salt; pinch of white sugar; approximately 1 cup plus 1 tbsp sunflower oil.
Beat the egg, vinegar, salt, sugar and the 1 tbsp of oil together; while beating add the rest of the oil in a thin and steady stream, beating until the mayonnaise is thick. Cover and refrigerate.