I reckon every home cook should know how to prepare these two incredibly popular condiments – there’s nothing to it. You end up with such a pure product and you know exactly what’s gone into it. Store-bought stuff usually contains preservatives, stabilisers, and poor quality oils. Even worse, ‘low fat’ mayonnaise usually contains nasty starches, cellulose gel, or other ingredients to simulate the texture of real mayonnaise. Just make your own and have the real thing – it’s better for you.
In simple terms, a mayonnaise is an emulsion (a mixture of two liquids that normally don’t mix – in this case, oil and water). When mixed at high speeds, the lecithin in the egg yolk acts to emulsify the water in the yolk with the lovely oil we add, meaning we end up with a thick, creamy, delicious treat that everyone goes nuts over.
Food processor or hand whisked?
Either of these options work perfectly – using a food processor is quicker and easier, but if you don’t have one, just use a clean bowl that you’ve warmed up slightly with hot water then dried out. It’s easier to thicken it up in a warm bowl. Just use a whisk and lots of elbow grease and add oil in teaspoons (or have someone pour it for you).
1 free-range egg
1 free-range egg yolk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/4 cups oil *See my note at the bottom
2 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Salt and white pepper
Process the egg, egg yolk, and Dijon mustard for about 10 seconds until well combined.
Have the oil ready in a measuring cup or jug that’s easy to pour from, or else it will be too hard to get a thin stream of oil and it will go everywhere (trust me, I know this from experience).
With the processor running, very slowly add the oil to the eggs in the thinnest stream you can manage. If you add it too quickly at this point, the mixture won’t emulsify. Keep the thin stream going until half the oil is used up – the mixture should start thickening up.
Once you’ve gone past the half way mark you can start to add the oil a little more quickly, about double the speed, until it’s all in. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and process again to combine everything nicely.
You should now how a nice thick mayonnaise but if you taste it, it will be bland as you haven’t added the lemon or salt. Add the 2 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar, and a good pinch of salt and pepper, process again then taste it. You’ll probably need to keep adding more salt, pepper and lemon/vinegar until it tastes right to you. You’ll probably need more salt than you think.
Once you’re happy with it, transfer to an airtight container and you can keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (or you can check the expiration date on the egg box and it should be fine until then).
Aioli is really just mayonnaise with garlic added – that’s why it tastes so damn good. So there’s no need to call it ‘garlic aioli’ – just a tip. If you’re going to be picky, the oil used should really be olive oil for a true aioli.
To make it, all you need to do is use the mayonnaise recipe above but add a clove of crushed NZ garlic at the stage you whizz the eggs up. You can also use roasted or confit garlic for a richer, less pungent flavour.
*Which oil to use?
It’s a very important question, as the oil it will make or break the final product. Here are my thoughts on various types of oils.
- Grape seed oil: My favourite. A little more expensive, but due to its clean, light taste and polyunsaturated fat content, it’s perfect. You could substitute 1/4 cup for olive oil for flavour.
- Rice bran oil: A neutral oil which works well by itself, or used half/half with light olive oil.
- Light and extra light olive oil: Quite a strong flavour – I’d probably mix half/half with a neutral oil. It’s better in aioli than mayo as the garlic is aioli helps counter the strong olive flavour.
- Extra virgin olive oil: The flavour is far too strong and will overpower everything else.
- Pure olive oil: Only use it if you really like the flavour of olive oil – it will be too strong for most. I’d recommend mixing it half/half with a neutral oil such as grape seed.
- Canola, safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean oils: I wouldn’t recommend these oils be used in mayo or aioli. They are highly polyunsaturated oils that can go rancid quickly – go for quality.