Story by: Read Urban, Photos by:
I will admit that I have never been a big fan of mayonnaise. I always hated mayo on my sandwiches, and came to resent the blue jar of Helman’s in the fridge. I never trusted the way it moved. The slight jiggle of creamy white blobs sitting on picnic plates.
When I finally had my first taste of handmade mayonnaise, I started to understand what I was missing. Store bought mayo and homemade mayonnaise couldn’t be more different.
The texture and flavor is something much more subtle and begs for a lot more than egg salad and club sandwiches.
Aioli, which is simply mayonnaise made with garlic and often olive oil, has become a popular condiment over the past several years. Restaurants and cooks tend to toss this word around and use it to describe any flavored mayonnaise, which I guess is fine seeing as there are several variations originating from different areas of Spain, France and Italy. I find pure olive oil to be too strong. Instead, I opt for a neutral oil.
The two most important tips I can give the home cook when making mayonnaise are exercise patience and use room temperature ingredients. Adding the oil drop by drop in the beginning is the only way you can guarantee the emulsion will start. Keeping your ingredients at room temperature will make the process much easier. I find that room temperature egg yolks emulsify much better than eggs straight from the fridge.
You can take the basic recipe for mayonnaise or aioli and tweak it to your taste. Try experimenting with different oils, acids (switching out lemon juice for lime juice) or just add new flavors. The addition of curry powder or gochugaru makes a great sauce. You will start to see how versatile this recipe is.
Mayonnaise from scratch isn’t just a simple condiment; it extends far beyond the sandwich or burger. It is an excellent sauce for vegetables, roasted or steamed. It is especially good on grilled fish. I still might ask for no mayo on my sandwich, but I will always have a place in my heart for real mayonnaise.
• ½ cup oil (half extra virgin olive oil, half grapeseed oil or another neutral flavored oil)
• 1 egg yolk, room temperature
• ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
• ½ small clove of garlic, smashed to a paste
• Lemon juice
• Salt and pepper
Place a damp kitchen towel on a table and a metal mixing bowl atop it. The towel will help anchor the bowl and keep it from moving around. Add the egg yolk, garlic and mustard to the bowl. Whisk to combine, and then slowly add the oil, one or two drops at a time. After you have incorporated at least a quarter of the oil, you can begin to add the oil in a steadier stream. When you have whisked in all of the oil, add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.