Aioli is a zesty garlic mayonnaise that's used as a sauce, most often for seafood and shellfish, although it's also great on green beans and potatoes. It's made by slowly whisking oil into egg yolks and garlic, but health concerns about the safety of raw egg yolks have many chefs starting with commercial mayonnaise, which is made from pasteurized egg yolks.
- Use aioli as a sauce for fish, shellfish, or vegetables, or as a dip for crudites (raw or blanched vegetables). Try a few tablespoons of aioli mixed with hot roasted potato chunks and steamed green beans.
- A good trick with the garlic is to pound it in a mortar (if you have one) with a pinch of salt. If you don't have a mortar, sprinkle the salt over minced garlic and "smear" the garlic with the flat of a knife. This makes a creamy garlic puree. (If you do this, use less salt in the aioli.)
- Basic aioli can be seasoned with virtually any chopped herbs, hot pepper sauces, or spices. For a sauce resembling tartar sauce, whisk in some pickle relish.
- If you'd rather not use raw egg yolks, no problem. Only make half a cup of the garlic olive oil and whisk it into a cup of prepared mayonnaise. Then whisk in some extra lemon juice, a little warm water to thin it out, and correct the seasonings.
- Only use olive oil for aioli, not canola or safflower oil (as you might for another mayonnaise).
- You can also make aioli in the food processor. Process the yolks and mustard and, while leaving the machine on, let the oil drip slowly through the feed tube. With some processor models, you can leave the white insert inside the tube; there's a hole at the bottom that lets the oil dribble through.
- Puree, mash or mince the garlic as finely as possible and add it to the olive oil. If you have a small food processor or blender, the two can be blended together.
- Place the egg yolks and mustard in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together for two minutes.
- While steadily whisking the yolks, begin to drizzle in the oil in a very thin, steady, slow stream.
- The yolks and oil will begin to come together. When about half the oil is in, and the mixture is beginning to resemble mayonnaise, add the vinegar and salt and pepper.
- Whisk together, then continue to drizzle in the oil while whisking. Stop before you've used all the oil.
- Squeeze in a little lemon juice, stir it in well, then taste. If it needs more salt, lemon juice, pepper or garlic oil, add it now and whisk it in until it tastes right. It should be thick and creamy, not overly garlicky, with none of the other flavors too strong.
If you're making the scratch version with raw egg yolks and it separates while you're whisking it together, don't worry. Don't throw it out. Just put another yolk or two and a teaspoon of mustard in another bowl, and drizzle in the separated stuff while whisking just as you would if it were plain oil.