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Aioli - Mediterranean Garlic Sauce (page 2 of 2)

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One of the most addictive sauces in the world, aïoli is made all over the Mediterranean. See how to do it the old-fashioned way.
Page1  2  

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Flavor with the lemon juice and white pepper.

I love my wooden tools boxwood pestle and olive tree lemon juicer. You couldn't use them in a professional kitchen nowadays - plastic and stainless steel is the norm.

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If we were on some food TV program, I'd just show you the finished aioli and you'd try to do the same at home like I showed. With the same sucess, probably. In fact I had to run to the electric mixer several times until I could manage a stable oil-in-water emulsion. The 16th century mortar and its boxwood pestle, for all their charm, let me down. But is that now how homecooked aioli looked like in the days of yore? I'd be much surprised if mamas in Provence and Italy and Spain managed to turn rock-hard aioli like an industrial mayonnaise.

If your aioli fails to become stiff, you can save it as follows. Take a little of the aoil and place it in a separate boil with a slightly larger quantity of water and mix. As soon as you have a stiff, mayonnaise-like texture, start pouring in the failed aioli from before, but little by little and whisking constantly. Of course with an electric mixer it will work even faster.

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There are a thousand and one ways of eating aioli, my favorite being to spread it on a slice of bread. But let's make a seasonal traditional Mediterreanean recipe to illustrate another simple way.

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Wash and trim a bunch of fresh green beans, here from a local farmer but maybe you are more lucky than me and grow your own.

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Boil to your taste in salted water with a touch of bicarbonate of soda to keep the green color...

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... and serve with the aioli and toasted bread. This one will get you a get-out-of-oncology-ward-healthy card.

Published 07/07/2008
455218 views


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72 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by jesus
  • on: 07/07/2008
There is an alternative traditional version of alioli found in the east coast of spain with no egg or water: just oil (don't use extravirgin or your garlic will be overpowered by the oil taste), garlic and salt. It takes a longer time to prepare but with the help of bread and lemon you might be able to shorten that a little bit.The key is to extract the juice from the garlic, the juice that will allow oil to emulsionate.As well, you can go for the extra quick version and add some milk (always pour more oil than milk) to the mix. If you do this in the electric mixer you will have a white alioli that kind of resembles the traditional alioli.Best way to taste it is with arroz a banda, a rice only kind of paella found primarly in Alicante.Congratulations on your great blog by the way. I am a big fan.
Oh cardiologically challenged pleasure!

I've been making mayonnaise lately, and I've come to the conclusion that it's pretty failsafe if you do it this way:

Note that egg yolk is an excellent emulsifier, if you follow the instructions below, you only need a teaspoon of egg yolk for about a cup of oil, and you could probably use even less.

1) Put 1 tsp of egg yolk in a small bowl and whisk it slightly.
2) Add 1/2 tsp of lemon juice and whisk together.
3) Add just a few drops of oil, and whisk until it comes together and shines nicely.
4) Repeat step 3, go _real_ slow in the beginning, and make sure that all the oil you've added is incorporated before you add any more.
5) When the mayonnaise gets thick, add some more lemon juice (or vinegar, or water). It should loosen, and lighten in colour.
6) You can now add more oil, same method as before.
7) Repeat steps 4-6 until you have as much mayonnaise as you want.
8) Add salt and whatever other flavouring you want, e.g. mashed garlic.

A mayonnaise is just a oil-in-water emulsion, so the trick is to make sure that you always have enough water (vinegar, lemon juice) to absorb your oil. If you keep adding a bit more water between batches of oil, you can make upwards of 18 liters of mayonnaise from a single yolk.
  • #3
  • Comment by Richard
  • on: 07/07/2008
"In fact I had to run to the electric mixer several times until I could manage a stable oil-in-water emulsion"

The last two occasions I made aioli I've had problems emulsifying. I once made it in a cup with a fork at a friends house and made some serious king prawn and aioli sandwiches. Yet in a fully equipped kitchen I have problems!?!

The only link to my recent failures is a measuring jug I used that is a bit fast flowing and doesn't deliver a fine stream. When straight out of the bottle - no problems.

That's a lot of raw garlic!! Fantastic!
  • #4
  • Comment by Saxit
  • on: 07/07/2008
"... but I'd love to see how stiff they can get their aioli without an emulsifier."I've seen recipes that use bread or potatoes as an emulsifier instead. I think the potatoe trick is more common in southern France though (often used when making Rouille for the fish soup for example).
  • #5
  • Comment by Jim
  • on: 07/07/2008
It appears from the picutes that you added a whole egg and not just the yolk.  Only the yolk is used, right?

Jim
You are saying egg yolk in the text, but also adding egg white in the pictures. I am a little confused now.
  • #7
  • Comment by felix
  • on: 07/07/2008
haha great post- love the garlic!
  • #8
  • Comment by Cris
  • on: 07/07/2008
Hi, I'm from Barcelona and here we use alioli for all:grill meats, potatoes and fideuà and seafood rices traditionally, but we use only garlic and oil,thats the meaning of the name in Catalan "All-i-oli" (Garlic-and-oil)and we use a special yellow and green pottery morters to make it.In the middle ages we use to make alioli with quincies, pears and honey. Anyway, congratulations for your fantastic blog.
Francois, the salt to taste, do I put that at the beginning when I am making the garlic paste? Or do I put just enough salt to make the garlic paste and not to season the entire aioli?
  • #10
  • Comment by Paul Mckenna
  • on: 07/07/2008
A real cheat would mash garlic and add to store bought mayonaiise. Not as good but sure of success.
Ever made real mayo and people complain because its not like what they buy in the shops ?
Philistines.

Paul
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
Jesus, thanks for visiting! I have much to learn about Spanish cooking and would very much like to know more about this arroz a banda. There are many Spanish bodegas in Switzerland to buy all sorts of ingredients, maybe they have the right rice.
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
Daniel, thanks for your most informative comments about mayonnaise! Aioli traditionalist will say that proper aioli is not mayonnaise but rather an archaic, no-egg mayonnaise for the real he-cook. Are you sure it is needed to add more water as you whisk in the oil? Have you succeeded making mayonnaise only with a hand whisk?
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
Richard, your prawn and aioli sandwiches sound just like I need! Alas no garlic in the office, we have to respect clients of the vampire persuasion. More seriously, making a proper aioli with a fork is a sign of a really serious cook!
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
Saxit I have to make aioli with a piece of potato, that sounds like a really authentic sauce and no mayonnaise ersatz.
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
Jim and Ahmet, you got me there, I did indeed add the full egg and now have corrected the text. But all you need is a little bit of yolk, not even a full yolk.
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
Cris, thanks for visiting, I definitely have to visit Barcelona to learn more about Spanish cookery! Is the catalon allioli stiff like a mayonnaise or runny like a soup?
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
Cynthia, the salt is mixed with the garlic paste and serves to season the whole aioli from its water portion. I try to use as little salt as possible, but hey, with that much oil, what difference does it make! I think this would be a terrific sauce for one of your extraordinary grilled fishes from the Carribean!
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
Hey Paul, if a guest said my homemade mayonnaise did not taste as good as industrial canned mayo, he would not have to wait for his coronary to go to the hospital.
Hi fx,

I always make my mayonnaise with a hand whisk--don't even own an electric version; space constraints in my kitchen force me to do low-tech cooking. With the method I describe above, I haven't had it break on me once.

I used to just add all the water/lemon juice right in the beginning, instead of interspersed with the oil, but it was much harder to get the mayonnaise to come together that way, and it broke easily if I wasn't reeeaaal careful.

Mayonnaise is an oil-in-water emulsion, meaning that it consists of many small droplets of oil surrounded by water. The emulsifier's job is to make sure the small oil droplets don't absorb each other and turn into large drops and then a small lake. This is what happens when the mayonnaise breaks. This also explains why you need more water when you've got loads of oil in there: otherwise there's just not enough water to keep the oil droplets apart. Using more emulsifier helps a bit against breaking, but a fixed amount of water can only go so far.

The question of why it's better not to add all the water right in the beginning is a bit trickier, but it really seems to be that way.

Sorry if this got a bit long, sometimes my background as a physics major shines through :)
amazing photos!
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 08/07/2008
Daniel, you are most accurate when describing the physics of mayonnaise making, it is so much more pleasurable when one cooks while understanding exactly what you're making, how and why. If you read French you'll be very interested by Hervé This' books such as Révélations Gastronomiques. Thanks for your comment!
  • #22
  • Comment by Karl
  • on: 08/07/2008
You are all wimps, except Daniel Eliasson.
Using electric whisks for a simple mayo/aioli, HA.
Ok I am right now stepping down from my very high pedestal to talk to you all about whisking.
Actually it's simpler to make an mayo/aioli with hand whisking rather then electric, I have used the electric myself sometimes but it sort of lacks a control that you get with the hand whisk.
My very simple trick is not in any magic whisk but that you use a good bowl, heavy and not moving around as you bet that oil into submission. no not submission, emulsion I think it was, I easily get carried away this late at night.
And I have done aioli without eggyolk using only garlic and my experience is that you have to bet it very hard and it does not keep (the shape and hold that is) as good as a egg version and it has a slightly sharper taste since the yolk mellows the flavor somewhat.
The potato works as well but lends a very different texture and taste to the sauce but actually makes it very ease to get a very firm aioli quickly, but I prefer a yolk and garlic version.
BUT my recommendation for those people that does not have a pestle like the pretty black one in the pictures above or the more colorful described above from spain (that I actually have but never use, its to small for me and my friends and my whisk) is to never give in to using a garlic press but instead cream it on a chopping board with a pinch of salt as abrasive and a knife makes a world of difference in flavor and texture of the sauce.
Thanks for a great site and wonderful stories and pictures.
Karl
  • #23
  • Comment by K
  • on: 09/07/2008
Excellent recipe...I've been kind of wondering why aioli hadn't shown up here sooner.  FX, I completely agree with you about wooden utensils...there's just something about them that I love, probably a habit passed to me from my mother.  Got my 6 year old to switch from steamed cauliflower and broccoli with cheese sauce to steamed cauliflower and broccoli with aioli not too long ago.  She couldn't get enough of it!  Great website, and keep up the good work!
  • #24
  • Comment by John-Christopher Ward
  • on: 09/07/2008
I wish to point out that mayonnaise nor aoïle will emulsify if there is a thunderstorm, because the air is ionized.
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/07/2008
Karl, thanks for your very knowledgeable contribution, I will definitely try the coarse-salt-and-large-knife trick for good crushed garlic. I find the idea of an eggless 'mayonnaise' or oil emulsion fascinating and will definitely try it soon!
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/07/2008
Ouroboros, it's great to grow up kids on garlic, one of the healthiest ingredients in the kitchen in my book!
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/07/2008
John-Christopher, I don't have my books near me, do you know if the ionized-air mayonnaise hypothesis has been tested scientifically? It does make sense and it's common knowledge, but did somebody actually test it?
  • #28
  • Comment by growitgreen
  • on: 09/07/2008
I am so excited to try this recipe. I have always read about aioli and wondered quietly what it actually was. I can't wait to try it. Thank you for sharing.
check out other food related blogs at www.foodista.com
It struck me that there's reasonably a difference in taste and texture depending on whether you use my technique or a more traditional.

In the case of the traditional technique, you're essentially using the egg yolk not just as an emulsifying agent, but also as the water phase of the emulsion. You'd reasonably get a thicker mayonnaise with egg taste, and just use a bit of lemon juice to flavour with.

My technique means I've only got a tiny bit of egg in there, and use the lemon juice/vinegar as the water phase. I like the way it tastes, but I suppose it's different. It's been so long since I did it the "old" way that I can't quite remember.

This calls for an empirical study. I'll try to find time to perform it this weekend.
  • #30
  • Comment by Ahmad
  • on: 09/07/2008
My only exposure to mediterranean cooking comes from Lebanese cuisine. Have you ever had Lebanese garlic sauce (it's called toum or something)? It's very thick (must thicker than aioli) and its slightly grainy with raw garlic. If you haven't tried it you should! It's amazing! Especially with barbequed marinated meats. Yum!
  • #31
  • Comment by jensenly
  • on: 10/07/2008
Your Dad FOUND your mortar and pestle?  Can he find one for me, too?

By the way, I appreciate your uber-clean fingernails in your photos.  Makes a mother proud.
  • #32
  • Comment by Alan
  • on: 12/07/2008
I'd always been wary of making emulsion-based sauces but your recipe inspired me to take courage. It was great! When she tasted it my wife loved it so much she immediately asked me what we could eat with it. No green vegetables, alas, so I improvised and cooked some ham (made from pineapple-fed pigs) in a little red wine and olive oil, put it between two slices of toasted whole wheat bread, added sliced tomatoes and slathered it with your aoili, which will DEFINITELY make an appearance at my next party.
  • #33
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 17/07/2008
Foodista, thanks for visiting and have fun with your aioli!
  • #34
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 17/07/2008
Daniel, thanks again for your most precise observations on the nature of mayonnaise, most people tend to forget that the main role of eggs in pasta is that of bringing water.
  • #35
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 17/07/2008
Ahmad, I love Lebanese cuisine but only tried a boiled-down industrial-mayonnaise-laced-with-garlic thing. I had much hoped to visit Lebanon one day and really hope the country will get the political stability its people deserve.
  • #36
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 17/07/2008
Jensenly, thanks for noticing my fingernails! Yes my dad was visiting a 16th century house in the Valais and saw this mortar and pestle abandonned in a corner, so he thought of me. He is really sweet, my dad!
  • #37
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 17/07/2008
Alan, I'm glad your first batch of aioli was a success that will lead you to make many more! Next you can try warm water-based emulsions like béarnaise, see my Cholesterol-Free Vegetarian Starter article.
  • #38
  • Comment by Horace
  • on: 01/08/2008
The only thing which prevented me from making my own mayonnaise before was fear of food poisoning(samonella is often present in raw egg yolks). If you are like me, then you can actually pasturize the egg yolks before making mayonnaise This is how you do it - from Howard Mcgee's 'The Curious Cook': 1) Separate and remove the white completely from the yolk. 2) Beat yolks 3) add 1 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of water to the yolks (because the sizes of eggs vary) 4) add a tablespoon of lemon vinegar and beat again 5)  cover the bowl with a plate and nuke it until the yolk begins to 'heave' (its therefore best to use a glass bowl for this) 6) beat the mixture again and let it stand for 1 minute 7) pop into the microwave again and remove when the yolks are agitated. You have now pasturized your own egg yolks.
  • #39
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Horace, I think you can do mayonnaise with other substances as the emulsifier, the egg yolk is just one way of doing it.
  • #40
  • Comment by PL
  • on: 21/08/2008
Hmm. Garlic(lots), oil (drizzled really slowly with blade running) and lemon juice, salt. Food processor  for a long time. Comes out the consistency of butter and people rave about it. No other thickener
  • #41
  • Comment by castilalt
  • on: 17/09/2008
With all due respect, REAL alioli is done only with garlic and oil.

Ali it's Valencian (and catalonian) language for Garlic and Oli is oil, hence... (drumroll....) Alioli

great blog, anyway, tons of good recipes, lacking the ocasional Spanish meal :)
  • #42
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 18/09/2008
castilalt, thanks for visiting and of course I understand that for you only Alioli is real alioli - actually the same goes for people in Provence. In fact I have received a crate of cookbooks from Spain recently and started to test many traditional Spanish dishes, very inspiring. I hope to post some in the future!
  • #43
  • Comment by Colette Bustani
  • on: 17/11/2008
Thank you for your recipes .In Lebanon this one exist since ages .Please try the aioli sauce with chicken from the grill or skewered meat, lamb etc... Bone Appetit .
Colette
  • FX's answer→ Colette, I love it so much that I'd eat aioli on a lolipop if they let me !

  • #45
  • Comment by charles
  • on: 23/01/2009
Comme on dit en Québécois"ayoilli!" ou en anglais "o wow!Superbe....(à essayer un ptit peu de moutard pour aider l'émulsion - très ptit..)
  • FX's answer→ Merci de ta visite Charles!

   
 Loved the neat pictures.  I don't have a mortal and pestle  --  how about a blender?  Sally
  • FX's answer→ Sally, you can make this in a bowl and a fork. But a mortar and pestle are really a good and lasting investment in any kitchen!

  • #49
  • Comment by Alex
  • on: 06/03/2009
Great recipe! I baked some fresh trout and served it with the sauce, it was delicious!
  • FX's answer→ Alex, this must have worked fine with those trouts!

  • #51
  • Comment by Mike Stepanovich
  • on: 25/04/2009
I'm a first-time visitor to your website; it's great! I visited it to learn more about aioli sauce because I'm a restaurant critic in Bakersfield, California, and wanted to learn more of the history of the sauce. I learned a lot from your recipe. I'll be visiting again for other things, but wanted you to know how much I liked it. And thanks for your help with my research!

In vino veritas!

Mike Stepanovich
  • FX's answer→ Thanks for your visit Mike, glad you liked it! I get many food writers, TV chefs and critics who visit my site but for some reason it never gets included on those "10 best food blog" lists. What do you think I should do about it?

  • #53
  • Comment by kome
  • on: 14/05/2009
I have just discovered garlic sauce going to a local restaurant in san diego and can't get it out of my mind.. THANK YOU for this recipe because now, it's going on everything I make!!!
  • FX's answer→ Make sure everybody eats it or they'll curse you for so much garlic breath in the house!

  • #55
  • Comment by ozu q vichyssoise
  • on: 18/05/2009
¿Hola que hay? aún que no lo creas si vas añadiendo el aceite al ajo muy poco a poco consigues espesarlo mucho, para eso utilizas tantos ajos, en el de huevo con un diente de ajo te sobra. Ya que tienes el mortero pruebalo. A mi mujer le encanta, más que el alioli con huevo, pero a mí hijo no, le pica mucho.
Saludos
  • #56
  • Comment by vite
  • on: 20/06/2009
Como te dice´n, no debes sorprenderte de que las mamas españolas hicieran allioli, solo con ajo y aceite y en mortero con
una mano de madera. Es cuestion de paciencia y girar la mano del mortero incesantemente siempre en el mismo sentido al tiempo que se va añadiendo aceite poquito a poco y que no te mire nadie, si no dicen que se corta.

Un saludo y enhorabuena por la web, es fantastica.
  • #57
  • Comment by fran bevier
  • on: 29/07/2009
here's a great big garlic kiss for the wonderful aioli pictures;can't wait to try both the "old" way aswell as "new" fullproof way.  Thanks for fine details/disctinctions, fran.
  • #58
  • Comment by Kay
  • on: 15/08/2009
I discovered the method of making Alioli is very much like making Bearnase, I use the whisk method.  Is it okay to use roasted garlic instead of raw garlic or would that alter the taste too much?  Will never forget my first taste of alioli which was served with a very small roasted chicken on top of a bed of creamed potatoes in a small iron pot!!!  The alioli was served on the side.  Ah, Paris food !  Love your site !

Memphis
  • #59
  • Comment by Pastor Bentonit
  • on: 05/10/2009
Adding to the endless "hand-whisk mayonnaise" debate, I find that vigorous use of a balloon whisk will do the trick (a regular one...not as handily!), if one does not add too much oil in the beginning. But wait, there's more! It should even be possible to make an "œuf dur mayonnaise" using only one egg! Just boil it for 6-7 minutes (I like them not quite as hard-boiled as my detective stories, thank you very much), halve it, and scoop out some of the egg yolk; mix it with a small dollop of French mustard and a couple of drops of lemon juice and go from there; it should absorb emough oil to cover the egg, if you wish that.

The lecithin – the membrane phospholipid in the egg yolk responsible for the emulsification of oil, much like a soapy detergent would dissolve fatty grease from your dirty dishes – will not be destroyed from boiling and should work perfectly well even if the yolk's proteins are mostly denatured (turned solid).

Just my 2 cent's worth.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks for your chemical insight, indeed a very small quantity of yolk can yield gallons of mayonnaise.

  • #61
  • Comment by cuchillero
  • on: 05/10/2009
Very nice blog, hope you don't mind my comments. Your "all i oli" is not quite right as the emulsion failed to get the appropiate texture. It takes time to learn how to achieve the perfect glosy effect but it is a good start.
regards
  • FX's answer→ Thanks, I'll make some more to improve my skills then!

  • #63
  • Comment by cuchillero
  • on: 06/10/2009
I'm sorry, don't take offense on my comment, but "all i oli" is a hallmark sauce, passed over generations , and it's really difficult to find it out in its genuine form even in the original countryside. Ones you are aware of the real thing, nothing compares and that's why i've been too harsh. I'm sure you'll understand.  Compliments.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Cuchillero, I accept your critical comment with gratitude as traditional aioli does require much experience and I need to do it again and again!

  • #65
  • Comment by Omí Wale
  • on: 08/04/2010
Hi, Fx....

Someone up there asked about blender (Osterizer)....  

Being just a student of this high skill tasks all I can say is that the blender works just fine.  My experience is I make Mayo or Salad Dressing right in the blender just fine.... garlic being just a spice.  I must confess I've never made Aïoli, per se.

I love your Site and the great comment contributors.  Such fun.

Omí Wale
  • #66
  • Comment by Mary Knotts
  • on: 08/06/2010
Great article and enjoyed the pictures. Also helpful to know how to save failed aioli. Thank you.
  • FX's answer→ Thank you Mary.

  • #68
  • Comment by Ruby
  • on: 24/08/2010
Thanks so much for this post. I've learned a huge amount from what you've written, as well as from the various comments.  I lived in Provence for a year and ate many aiolis but tonight am attempting to make it for the first time.  I'm going to try the 'pure' method (just oil and garlic) but am not so stubborn that I won't add an emulsifier if need be. Serving it up with steamed beans, carrots, boiled potatoes, eggs and prawns - can't wait!
  • #69
  • Comment by Mª del Mar
  • on: 24/11/2010
When doing allioli there is a truth, if you are whisking by hand with mortar&pestle you have to use just egg yolk, meanwhile if you are using an electric hand blender you have to use the entire egg (yolk + egg white). It is like magic, but it is so.
  • #70
  • Comment by morgan
  • on: 15/12/2010
Poner-le limon es un crimen! la salsa esta emulsionada però realmente tiene que espesar,te puede ajudar un batidor electrico,porcierto en catalunya hay una salsa igual o mas buena llamada Romesco! es deliciosa..
  • FX's answer→ Gracias por tu comentario, es un crimen quizas!

  • #72
  • Comment by Sue
  • on: 14/03/2011
Loved the aioli lesson. I have not made my own yet, but am planning my stategy. One question I have that I have not seen the answer to is this.... After making the aioli, particulary with egg, can it be stored in the refrigerator for any length of time???I mean,the raw egg and all??? What would be safe storage for this sauce? I want to make a truffled aioli to serve with portobello "fries".
Thanks, Sue

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