Move over Hellman’s, here comes aioli! My all time favorite way to eat aioli is to use it as a dip with fried yuca, but that’s just my Latin American taste. Aioli is an emulsion made with eggs, olive oil and garlic. It is typical of Provence, and is also common to the cuisine of Catalonia (Northern Spain).
Aioli, an old Provencal word, essentially comes from two words: ail-garlic and oli-oil. Aioli can also be enjoyed with broiled fish, potatoes, crab-cakes, and yes French bread also. In Latin American and some Caribbean nations, aioli can also be enjoyed with fried yuca-a starchy root vegetable that in my humble opinion is best enjoyed fried. Although aioli is not exactly a diet food, it is all natural which in my opinion is a huge plus.
My love for aioli began as a child when my father would make it at home. My father was of French descent; his family came from Grenoble in the south of France. He would tell us that growing up he and his siblings would patiently wait in the kitchen with a chunk of French bread (homemade I am certain) in hand while his grandmother slowly and patiently prepared the aioli. Mind you, grandma was most likely using a bowl, a fork and plenty of muscle!
In making aioli, the key ingredient is PATIENCE. The oil needs to be added in a very slow stream, and I mean s-l-o-w! The reason for this? Pure chemistry! Aioli is an emulsion (minute droplets of a liquid suspended in another liquid); if the oil is added too rapidly, you will break those protein bonds in the egg yolk and create a curdled mess. Now, if this unfortunate accident were to happen to you, and I am not saying it will, you can do a couple of things: 1) You can add vinegar and tarragon and voila, salad dressing, 2) Another option is to start a fresh batch and slowly add the flopped batch.
DO MAKE SURE THAT ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS ARE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE (sorry for the caps, but this is soooo important) as this will affect the way the eggs and oil emulsify. Cold ingredients might cause the emulsion to curdle. Yes, it is finicky, but it is so worth it!
Although there are some variations, this is the one I grew up with and one that I hope you try and enjoy. I must warn you, the taste is really strong (I mean ward off the vampires strong), but a little goes a long way. I encourage you to try it on a baked potato; it makes a great alternative to sour cream.
If you love to make appetizers and dips at home here are a few more to try. One of my favorite party dishes to bring along is mango black bean salsa. It has really bright flavors and is easy to bring to picnics. One of my family’s favorite Latin treats are fried green plantain or tostones with avocado cream sauce. if you visit bars in Spain one popular tapas dish is mushrooms in sherry sauce served on a nice crusty bread. Empanadas are savory turnovers filled with meat or cheese. Most are fried but I like to cheat and bake mine using pre-made pie crust. Enjoy!
Aioli - Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise
Here is a quick and easy recipe for a nice garlic aioli. All you need is egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice and salt. That is it, and it comes together quickly.
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 pinch Kosher salt (paleo diet: sea salt)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp lemon fresh squeezed juice
Important tip: Be sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.
- Remove peel from garlic and smash with a fork on a cutting board. In a bowl, beat egg yolk and add salt, lemon juice and smashed garlic. In a slow stream add the olive oil while whisking. Continue doing this until all the olive oil has been added. The resulting mixture should be slightly thick. It is very important to add the oil in a very slow stream. Enjoy with French Fries, crab-cakes, broiled fish or French bread!