Aioli literally means “garlic and oil” in French and Catalan. It’s like a mayo on steroids, popular in Mediterranean countries, especially in France (Provence), Italy (Liguria) and most regions of Spain (called Alioli), mostly prevalent along the Mediterranean coast (Valencia, Cataluña, Murcia and Andalucía) where it is served literally by the bucket-full. Every restaurant in Alicante provides a bowl of decadent, creamy looking Alioli, with chunks of fresh baguette for customers to dunk before ordering their meal.
In Cataluña, they present a stew of potatoes cooked with only salt and bay leaves and served with dollops of alioli on top. It accompanies any kind of seafood, roasted or grilled fish and it is an indispensable addition for the renowned paella. Yes, it is a very popular staple in Spain, even sold in every supermarket, just like mayo here.
In Provence, it is affectionately called Le Grand Aioli and it is also dropped on top of a dish of braised veg (usually carrots, potatoes, artichokes, shallots and green beans). Indeed, aioli is yet another food item that has made its stalwart presence into the food arena with different flavor profiles to render complex and unique flavorings to the classic.
In America, it’s become the common dipping sauce for calamari and shrimp cocktail (try it without the usual cocktail sauce and you’ll be amazed). Crab cakes are elevated with aioli instead of the characteristic remoulade or tartare sauce. It makes an incredible sandwich spread; it is colossal on hamburgers and empanadas. And a vigorous dip, perfect for sweet potato and French fries. Try it with roasted veggies and even better, roasted artichokes. As you can see the list of possibilites is limitless.
So, if you have been abstaining from the idea of making it, get your Aioli on. Not only it’s a most original sauce, and ridiculously uncomplicated to whip together, but the results are so magical you will wonder why you were so skeptical to begin with.
Basic Aioli starts with garlic and salt mashed together in a pestle and mortar. There is a velvety excellence obtained when mashing it in a mortar, preventing the chunks of raw garlic from clumping about in the Aioli. Spanish Aioli contains about 8-10 garlic cloves, but I go for putative anonymity. If you’re a Vampire slayer, by all means add as many as you like. The objective is to have garlic flavoring, but not allow it to completely dominate the sauce. Also, some aiolis have emulsifiers such as egg yolks, while some don’t contain any egg product at all.
3-4 garlic cloves – peeled and roughly chopped
½ TSP of kosher salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 TSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP lemon juice
½ cup of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
½ cup of Canola oil
Mash the garlic cloves with the salt in the pestle to obtain a smooth paste. I use the measuring cup that was provided with my Breville immersion blender and place all the ingredients inside, including the oils – you can also use a medium sized mason jar.
Insert the blender all the way to the bottom of the plastic cup, turn it on and blend for about 30-40 seconds without lifting, until you see the emulsion getting thicker around the sides of the cup. Then move the blender up and down slowly a few times till the mixture has thickened to the desired consistency. The whole process takes less than 1 minute.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, place all the ingredients (not the oil) in a food processor and blend till smooth. Slowly, and I mean slowly or your Aioli will curdle, start drizzling the oil while the machine is running and you will see it start getting thicker. Blend until you have achieved a smooth-like mayonnaise. AND VOILA!
2 egg yolks at room temp
½ TSP of chipotle powder
4 cloves of chopped garlic – mashed previously in the pestle and mortar to a smooth paste
1 TSP kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Chopped fresh parsley – about 2 TBSP
1 TBSP lemon juice or lime
1 TSP of turmeric – for color
½ TSP of Grey Poupon mustard – smooth or grainy (your choice)
½ cup EACH of EVOO and Grape-seed Oil
Prior to starting, mash the garlic cloves with the salt in the pestle as with the basic recipe. Place all the ingredients in the measuring cup of the immersion blender and proceed with the instructions for the basic Aioli
ROASTED GARLIC CHILI AIOLI
(Include the basic Ingredients for the basic Aioli above – without the raw garlic and the lemon juice)
1 head of garlic cu in half – (roasted in foil with some EVOO, salt and pepper in 350F for 1 hour)
Juice and zest of ½ lime
1/2 TSP of grainy mustard
1 dried guajillo pepper – emulsified with warm water and seeds removed
¼ cup of fresh chopped cilantro
Pinch of turmeric
Kosher salt and and fresh cracked pepper
Make the Aioli as stated above for the basic recipe. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend further till incorporated. Finish with a sprinkle of lime zest and smoky paprika. This is great on tacos, pulled pork sandwiches and to accompany a charcuterie board with roasted veggies.