I got married to my beautiful wife in Hawaii (on the Big Island, as it’s called) in 2007. We sat down to dinner in Oahu, a week later, at a restaurant called Alan Wong’s. Out came the bread and a mysterious yellowish substance. Apparently we had been living under a rock – this was our first taste of aioli. And the taste was ridiculously good. We left the restaurant (a very fine one, by the way) knowing we’d have to figure out how to make the stuff at home.
As it turns out, it’s very simple. Aioli is a sauce made from oil, egg and garlic. You could call it garlic mayonnaise sauce, but it’s not anything like we usually think of mayo from a jar. Homemade aioli is light, smooth and intensely rich in flavor. It’s the perfect condiment for fries and sandwiches, but I cannot think of a better way to enjoy it than to simply spread it on a slice of crusty bread and devour, especially if you’ve baked up a delicious homemade masterpiece of a loaf.
Since that fateful night at Alan Wong’s, I’ve made aioli many times. I’ve found some good recipes, some not good, and some that didn’t work at all. I’ve perfected my ideal, foolproof aioli recipe and share it with you here today. All you need is a food processor or a blender, 5 minutes, and some basic ingredients. Make it. Put it on that bread. You’ll be happy.
Just a few basics to make aioli. Vegetable and extra virgin olive oils, an egg, garlic, lemon, salt, white pepper.
This is a germ. Not like a disease, but a green thing in the middle of the garlic clove which is bitter and tougher than the rest. Pull to remove these.
First pulse to get everything combined, ready for the oils. For a different twist, you can add a bit of fresh thyme or parsley, or both, if you like, and pulse.
After slowly adding oils to the running machine, the sauce is thickened and ready for use.
What you don’t want to happen is for the oil to separate from the egg. If you go slowly when adding the oil, it won’t. I use a combination of vegetable and extra virgin olive oils to give it just the right balance of flavor without overpowering the garlic and other seasonings. If you like, you can add a bit of fresh parsley and/or thyme to the initial mixture before adding oils.
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed, peeled and germ removed
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 room temperature egg (at least warm it in your hands for a while if it’s right from the fridge)
- Juice of half a lemon
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of white pepper
- Small sprig of fresh parsley (optional)
- Pinch of fresh thyme leaves (optional)
- Crack and add the egg, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, white pepper and a small amount of the oil (a few tsps only) in a food processor or blender. Add herbs if desired. Pulse for a few seconds.
- With the food processor running, drizzle in the rest of the oils slowly, in a thin stream of droplets (keeping your cooking oils in plastic squeeze bottles makes this easy) until it becomes creamy and thick. (If using a blender, add the oil in small batches and pulse between each.) Stop for a few seconds periodically to check the consistency. The final sauce should be almost as thick as mayonnaise. Transfer to a small container and serve or cover and refrigerate.
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