Freshly made, velvet Aioli can really improve or complement any seafood and vegetable dish. Beautiful olive oil and garlic are the heroes and you really only need these two basic ingredients to make aioli. But! A tiny pinch of saffron or some cilantro leaves can take your taste buds on an even more adventurous experience.
Classic Aioli means “oil and garlic” in both Catalan and Provencal. However, aioli can contain emulsifiers like egg yolk plus lemon juice, often mustard (that’s mostly in Provence) and other seasonings. In the Spanish version there are no eggs and there is much more garlic. In fact aioli in Spain is normally only the combination of the two: garlic and olive oil.
I must agree with the Spanish traditionalists that the addition of egg yolk, lemon juice and seasonings does make it appear more like heavier mayonnaise, but boy, it is so good! Think: saffron, fresh fennel, lime or orange juice, or the peel of either, cilantro leaves, a drop or two of truffle oil, mint, smoked paprika… There are so many possibilities. You can flavour it to your liking and make it to a super special aioli sauce to accompany your meal.
So what is the difference between aioli and mayonnaise recipe?
The answer is oil and also the presence of garlic. Aioli’s base is olive oil and garlic paste (and a bit of salt), whilst mayonnaise can be made with any neutral and lighter oil like vegetable or canola oil and doesn’t have to contain garlic (although it can). Mayonnaise will always contain egg yolk and often lemon juice or vinegar… we already established that aioli recipe doesn’t have to.
Aioli: food processor or pestle and mortar?
Traditionalists would say that you have more control with the pestle and mortar over the the texture of your aioli. You should obviously start from smashing your garlic to a paste first before adding the olive oil. Slowly, little by little to allow the emulsification process. But, honestly? If you know your food processor well enough, you’ll have a comparable result in a fraction of time.
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed into a paste consistency
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 300 ml (1 ¼ cup) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or to taste
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Using a pestle and mortar or simply a wide side of your knife, crush garlic into a paste.
- In a bowl whisk the garlic paste together with, mustard, egg yolks, lemon juice and pinch of salt & pepper until combined.
- Little by little start adding olive oil and whisk until all oil is absorbed and your aioli has thickened.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper or more lemon juice.
- Enjoy as a dip, over steamed veggies or with seafood.