30 November 2009


Blenders, food processors and other new-fangled cooking implements are frequently used for making mayonnaise, but the old-fashioned mortar and pestle can't be beat for emulsifying egg yolks and oil. 
Thai cooks use a clay mortar and wooden pestle for making somtom, a ubiquitious street food made with unripe papaya. I've found that this is perfect for mayonnaise because of its shape - deep and narrow with a lip that curls inward.  Whenever I use a mortar and pestle I sit on a throw rug on the the kitchen floor; the rug absorbs some of the impact and keeps other things from getting dinged up.
I start with an egg yolk, and spend a few minutes pulverizing it at the bottom of the mortar: a rhythmic pounding and twisting that ensures its ability to bind with the oil.  Then, slowly, slowly, a half teaspoon at a time, I add oil and continue to pound and twist the long wooden pestle.  Salt, lemon juice, pepper, ground mustard, and other offerings are added slowly, never threatening the stability of the egg and oil. 


  1. Ooh, I never thought to use a mortar and pestle. Thanks for the tip. You can't beat fresh mayo.

  2. You CAN beat fresh mayo! That's why I use a mortar and pestle. The type shown in the picture is available at Asian stores for around $15.