Before being catapulted into adult life, we were taught a couple of life saving skills. After lunch, wait at least two hours before you go swimming in the sea, never EVER drink white after red, it takes ten minutes to get a hardboiled egg from the boiling point, spaghettis are cooked when they stick to the wall, how to make a vinaigrette, and, what was going to separate the men from the boys, the sheep from the goats; how to make your own mayonnaise. In a region almost surrounded by water, it was only going to be a matter of time before a friend or a family member would ask nonchalantly while preparing the crab claws and meat: “You do the mayonnaise, yeah?” You knew then that the last task of your right of passage had come before you.
Like wood burning oven baking pizzas, making mayonnaise is all about confidence… And a couple of tips. Unlike the Magician who never reveals his tricks, this Breton will put you on the right track. First, select your tools carefully; even though my Grand Mother was able to make a thick mayo in a thimble, using only a cocktail stick, make things easy for yourself! Pick a nice big bowl and a whisk. You can use Dijon mustard, as this is the norm but the other day, I fancied a bit of a kick and the vibrant colour of English mustard. One generous tea spoon, heaped, at the bottom it goes. Carefully break a large fresh egg and keep the yolk. Put it gently next to the mustard; a pinch of salt, cracked black pepper. Now, for the choice of oil; my parents used groundnut oil for everything, the big big secret of French cooking. For years, I enjoyed making it with olive oil, even though and for some reason, it is a bit harder to get a lovely thickness. The other day, a friend of mine gave me a bottle of Newgrange Gold Camelina oil, the only type available in the country, from this little company in Co. Meath. Camelina is a close cousin to Rapeseed oil, the new gold of the Irish food Eldorado; it is very interesting, with a pungent nose, very mineral and deeply earthy. It is also incredibly high in omega 3, something we could all use a bit more in our diets, especially if like me, your access to fresh fish is a bit limited.
So first, whisk the mustard and egg yolk together. My mother used to put a drizzle of oil as well, at the start. Then, little by little and while keep whisking, pour the oil. You will see that it will thicken very quickly. Almost there, have a taste to gage the salt, now, for a bit of acidity, but not too much, a perfect marriage is simply a few drops of ½ a lemon… Keep whisking and keep tasting, et voilá, done!
To serve, any white fish, wild salmon, a cold roasted chicken, the day after. I had none of the latter available to me so I decided to root the fridge. I found a piece of smoked tuna from Woodcock Smokery in West Cork I had kept for a special occasion that never came. The “use by” date did though so I decided to open it. I had a red onion left, an organic apple and an avocado just about to get to its optimal ripening condition. I grated the avocado, thinly sliced the apple and the red onion. I mixed the lot gently in my Camelina mayonnaise and had a hell of a delicious lunch!
If you want to know more about Irish Camelina or Rapeseed Oil you can visit their website:
… And if Sally Barnes’ Woodcock Smokery tickled your curiosity, it is right here: