A friend brought me some whitefish salad from New York, and I froze what I couldn't use that week since it's highly perishable. However, since the salad base is mayonnaise, on freezing and thawing it separated -- all the oil de-emulsified, turning the salad into a greasy slurry.

Is there any way to restore this to a creamy, spreadable consistency? I don't know of one, but maybe you do?

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    Can you separate the fish from the Mayonnaise? Then you could create a new batch of mayonaise. I doubt the add dill pickle and mix again trick would work on the mayonaise
    – jmk
    Jun 26, 2021 at 22:13
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    I have not tried this, but if I had some whitefish salad slurry I would put it in the blender. What you get should be good as a spread for bagels or on pasta.
    – Willk
    Jun 27, 2021 at 2:31
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    That's an answer @Willk, why not make it one?
    – GdD
    Jun 27, 2021 at 18:18
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    @GdD Cos the result sounds a bit deappetizing? Defrosted blended fish? (My opinion...) Jun 27, 2021 at 20:46
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    It's fish pate @AnastasiaZendaya, it's actually in the deli counter in more than one cuisine.
    – GdD
    Jun 28, 2021 at 7:20

1 Answer 1


Well, If it were just the mayonnaise, it would be easy. I’m sure you already know all this, but for future visitors to this question: mayonnaise, like hollandaise and bearnaise, is an oil-in-water emulsion, with microscopic droplets of oil suspended in the water phase, with lecithin from the egg yolks stabilizing the mixture. The higher the oil to water ratio, the thicker the mayonnaise. A split mayonnaise occurs when the ratio gets too high and the droplets of oil break out of the mixture and merge together. To rescue a split mayo, you simply start a new mayonnaise with an egg yolk and a bit of water, and then slowly blend the split mayonnaise into it, re-establishing the emulsion.

Now, usually when people are rescuing mayonnaise, it has just recently split and is not particularly separated; as a result the oil and water end up getting mixed into the new mayonnaise at about the same rate. If one were to accidentally add all the oil first, the ratio of oil to water could become too high, resulting in the mayonnaise breaking again. In contrast, adding all the water first would be fine.

So if you were to separate out as much of the oil as possible, beat an egg yolk and a bit of water, slowly beat in the watery post, then slowly beat in the oily part, I think you’d end up with a stable mixture. The open questions would be, would the whitefish and other solid ingredients interfere with the re-emulsification? And does the texture of the spread rely on an oil-to-water ratio which is not achievable without industrial emulsification equipment? So I’m not sure whether it is possible to rescue your spread, but that’s how I’d try to do it.

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    Note that in this case the ratios were just fine so mechanical emulsification might just work: a thorough whirr with the immersion blender might just do.
    – Sanchises
    Jun 28, 2021 at 17:18
  • I'll take this, partly because I've decided not to fully test it. I'm going to try to get most of the oil out of the slurry, and then mix it with a little cream cheese instead of trying to re-emulsify.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jun 28, 2021 at 17:43
  • FWIW, the fish might actually help with the emulsification, given that you can make a cod/oil emulsification.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jun 30, 2021 at 17:49

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