Duck Egg and Saffron Aioli


I was sitting at the back of the 205 bus the other day when I came up with the idea of making my own aioli  using duck eggs instead of hen’s eggs for a richer result, perhaps with some saffron and lots of finely chopped tarragon. This all seemed fairly straightforward and like a good idea at the time.

All I can say is NEVER AGAIN.

I don’t own an electric whisk and my food processor is broken so I decided to use my trusty old hand whisk. I crushed a fat clove of garlic with some salt and added the egg yolks. It all started fairly promisingly, things were looking wobbly and pale and altogether pretty perfect. Then foolishly, I added what must have been two drops of oil instead of one and it was game over.

The wobbly became more like a grey, grainy cream that refused to transmogrify back into mayonnaise no matter how much I coaxed it. However, being a stubborn one I persisted, determined to whip everything back into shape. I proceeded to spend the next four hours whisking like a proper loser. That’s four hours of my life I will never get back.


Eventually, after my right arm had gone completely numb and I realised I was muttering and swearing at the bowl under my breath I decided, reluctantly to admit defeat.

I thought about it a lot the next day. It really preyed on my mind. Determined not to be beaten I tried again, and again started off well, this time the wobbly phase was substantially prolonged. However, heady with success I got cocky with the oil again and once again ended up with a curdled grainy mess. At this point I had actually developed blisters on my hands so conceded that in the long run, perhaps mayo failure was better than losing the use of my right hand.

Gutted, I stirred in half a bottle of Hellman’s a pinch of saffron and chopped tarragon. And even then it was still pretty horrible and far too rich. Sometimes the supermarkets really do know best.


  1. Dan

    Oh my God, Four hours! you must have one arm built like a Russian shot putter.
    That’s the problem with making any type of Mayo – expensive ingredients…..well, the Olive Oil is pretty expensive – means it HAS to work, and if it doesn’t….well….I don’t even want to think about it. I’ve made my own once, and it was a success – but I used the electric whisk attachment on my blender/chopper thing.
    Top marks for experimenting!

    • gastrogeek

      Yeah my arm is still killing me – am lying in the recovery position trying to block the whole thing out of my mind – boo hoo!

  2. Mayonnaise can be rescued. Start off another egg yolk and more oil. When this looks promising, slowly add the curdled mixture, fingers crossed. My husband once started off with a 2 yolk mayonnaise, and ended up with 5 yolks and about 750 mls mixture!
    I’ve made it both with a hand whisk and a handheld mixer. The key seems to be add the oil very slowly at first. Good luck if you try again. The home made stuff tastes much better than Hellman’s.

    • gastrogeek

      Christine – thanks for the advice, you clearly have more patience than me! I will definitely try the adding the curdled mixture to a fresh yolk trick, maybe just not for a while. I need to let go and move on for now.

  3. Get a slave to do it next time. You know , like a real chef would.

  4. LOL. Do you even like duck eggs?
    I once ate an ostrich egg omelette in south Africa. Horrible. It was to hen eggs what breast milk is to cow milk. Sort of oily.

    • gastrogeek

      Uuurgh! That sounds pretty vile. I think that’s definitely it for my foray into “alternative” eggs, am definitely sticking to good old hens eggs from now on…

  5. Pingback: Bengali “Moussaka” « Gastrogeek

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