Have you ever tried oeufs mayonnaise in France? A simple egg mayonnaise starter is not nearly as exotic as oysters or frog’s legs that appear on French menus. But somehow this French bistro classic hors d’oeuvre is a winner. Is it the homemade French mayonnaise dolloped on perfectly boiled eggs that makes it so appetizing? As Claude Lebey, a French food critic, once said, “Oeuf mayonnaise cannot be explained. It must be savoured.”
My Introduction To Oeufs Mayonnaise In France
Oeufs durs mayonnaise have deliciously woven themselves into the fabric of my French life.
I find myself happily ensconced in a French family where oeufs mayo reign as the entrée to the perfect French dinner. Obviously, with an egg mayonnaise starter comes the pièce de resistance, homemade French mayonnaise.
It’s the brothers who work together in a labour of love to create the perfect French mayonnaise. One whisks non-stop. One drizzles the oil in a steady stream. One chops chives. The other adds a tiny spoonful of créme fraîche. The other pops the finished product in the freezer for five minutes. All the while the eggs are boiling to perfection.
This French dish is the house speciality. Not to be missed.
Perhaps what makes the classic oeufs mayonnaise so scrumptious is the simplicity of the dish. The marriage of flavours. The cool smoothness of the mayonnaise. Its creamy texture. The jammy egg yolks. And the love with which it is made.
5 Reasons To Devour Oeufs Mayonnaise In France
1. They Are Classic French Bistro Fare
Oeufs mayonnaise holds a special place in French culinary culture. Whether enjoyed as an appetizer, a light lunch, or a prelude to more elaborate courses, oeufs mayonnaise makes for a classic French bistro experience.
Not all oeufs mayonnaise are made equal. You must ask your waiter if the mayonnaise is “fait-maison” or homemade.
As far back as 1936, a recipe was included in the cookbook L’ Art culinaire moderne (Modern French Culinary Art) by Henri-Paul Pellaprat. I suspect they had been appearing on French tables for a long time before that!
2. The French Love Oeufs Mayonnaise
In 2021, according to stats from Deliveroo, oeufs mayonnaise was the most-ordered dish in France. Paris’s Bouillon Pigalle, a former winner of the Oeuf Mayo World Championship, was the go-to for these gourmet hardboiled eggs! This simple dish, egg mayonnaise, is clearly a treasured French culinary tradition.
The love of oeufs mayonnaise is a serious business. When in Paris, one of the “French Brothers” peruses menus displayed outside brasseries. No oeufs mayonnaise? We keep walking! He’s even had a waiter offer to whip up fresh mayonnaise for him.
3. Oeufs Mayonnaise Almost Disappeared
In 1990 Claude Lebey, a French food critic, and journalist Jacques Pessis co-founded ASOM, L’ Association pour la Sauvegarde de l’oeuf mayonnaise. The indispensable staple of the French bistro was falling out of fashion and starting to disappear with the news that eggs were bad for cholesterol. The Association to Protect Egg Mayonnaise started to hand out awards to French bistros who were serving delectable egg mayonnaise.
With the retirement of Lebey in 2013, ASOM went quiet. But in 2018, ASOM was relaunched by four proud gastronomic French, one being Vincent Brenot the grandson of Lebey, and the Competition for the World Champion of oeufs mayonnaise (Oeuf Mayo World Championship) was revived. The French take their oeufs mayonnaise seriously!
In 2023, the annual competition for the best oeufs mayonnaise went to Maxime Plateau, the chef at Au Moulin à Vent in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Every year, the competition has been won by a Parisian. I know where I’m heading for lunch one day soon!
5. There’s Even A French Cookbook Devoted To Oeufs Mayonnaise
If you’re smitten with the simple oeuf mayonnaise and want to be inspired to create in your kitchen, grab a copy of the cookbook l’Oeuf Mayo recettes extraordinaires par 49 grands chefs. Forty-nine chefs each contributed a unique twist on the classic recipe. It’s a great book to peruse.
Oeufs Mayonnaise vs Devilled Eggs
What’s the difference between eggs mayo and devilled eggs? In oeufs mayonnaise, the French homemade mayonnaise is dolloped on top of the hard-boiled egg. For devilled eggs, the yolk is scooped out and then mixed with Hellman’s mayonnaise. Paprika is sprinkled on top.
Eggs mayo can also conjure up visions of egg salad sandwiches. The filling is made with chopped hard-boiled eggs and mixed with mayonnaise. It is spread on bread slices as a sandwich filling. In Britain? Why not cut the crusts off and make a dainty tea sandwich?
French Eggs vs North American Eggs
A chicken is a chicken is a chicken. And the eggs? Well, there is a yolk and a white.
Why then are eggs not refrigerated in France as in North America? Wander through any grocery store, market, or French home and the egg cartons are poised on a shelf. How is this even possible? In North America, eggs are always in the fridge.
Apparently, in North America eggs are sprayed before being sold. The spraying is to protect the consumer from salmonella but removes the protective and anti-bacterial layer that naturally covers the eggshell. It is forbidden by law to wash European eggs and thus the protective layer remains on the shell allowing them to be stored at room temperature. Read more HERE.
Oeufs Mayonnaise Recipe – Like The French Make It At Home
Oeufs mayo are perfect in so many ways From a practical sense, they can be made in advance or at the last minute, as long as the eggs are popped into the fridge to chill a bit.
- make sure the eggs are at room temperature
- add the eggs to a pot of boiling water
- boil for 8 minutes (the egg yolks will be the perfect consistency)
- drain and immediately place in an ice bath or run cold water over the eggs
- peel and cut in half lengthwise
The French brothers claim that the quality of the result is in the strength of the arms! Don’t stop whisking! Some people may recommend using an immersion blender or a food processor to make mayonnaise. The French Brothers highly recommend using a whisk.
- in a bowl place one egg yolk, a healthy dose of Dijon mustard, two drops of red wine vinegar, and pepper
- add a little salt but not too much as there is already salt in the mustard
- add a small teaspoon of sunflower seed oil and whisk until it comes together
- continue adding oil in a steady stream whisking continuously
- non-stop whisking is one of the keys to the perfect French mayonnaise
- whisk until the desired thickness has been reached and the desired amount created
- whisk in chopped fresh chives or your choice of other fresh herbs
- whisk in a tiny teaspoon of crème fraîche
- hold the bowl up and turn it over – the mayo should hold steady
- place the bowl of mayonnaise in the freezer for five minutes
Et voilà – a gorgeous, glossy, pale yellow mayonnaise!
Variations on Housemade Mayo: some people use lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar
Please note: When making your own mayonnaise, do not use olive oil. It can give the mayonnaise a bitter flavour and cause it to separate.
How To Serve Oeufs Mayonnaise
Oeufs mayonnaise look beautiful sitting on a bed of lettuce leaves. Placing the eggs naked on the plate also works.
I like the egg yolk facing up, while others prefer it facing down on the plate.
Three egg halves are a good serving size.
Dollop the velvety mayonnaise on top of the hard-cooked eggs and dive in!
Essential to the enjoyment of oeufs mayonnaise is the French baguette. Be sure there is a basket of baguette slices on the table. It is critical to “saucer” or mop up any last vestiges of the mayo remaining on the plate.
Oeufs mayonnaise – understated yet with star quality both in a French bistro and around the dinner table amongst friends. I hope you find oeufs durs mayonnaise as irresistible as I do.
Until next time,