Aioli is a Provençal traditional sauce made of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and usually egg yolks. There are many variations, such as the addition of mustard. It is usually served at room temperature.
Aioli is, like mayonnaise, an emulsion or suspension of small globules of oil and oil-soluble compounds in water and water-soluble compounds. Egg yolk can be used as an emulsifier and is generally used in making aioli today. However, mustard and garlic both have emulsion-producing properties and some variants (such as Catalan allioli) omit the egg.
Generally, egg yolks, garlic, and Dijon mustard (if adding this as a common variation on the basic aioli) are combined first with a whisk, then the oil and the lemon juice are added slowly with whisking to create the emulsion. The additions of the dissimilar ingredients must be slow to start and then can be faster once the initial emulsion has formed.
In Occitan cuisine, aioli is traditionally served with seafood, fish soup, and croutons, in a dish called merluça amb alhòli. In Malta, arjoli or ajjoli is commonly made with the addition of either crushed galletti or tomato. In the Occitan Valleys of Italy it is served with potatoes boiled with salt and bay laurel.
In Provence, aioli (or more formally, Le Grand Aïoli) also designates a complete dish consisting of various boiled vegetables (uniformly carrots, potatoes, and green beans), boiled fish (normally, desalted salt cod), and boiled eggs usually served along with snails or other mollusks, with the aioli sauce. Other commonly used vegetables are cauliflower, courgettes (zucchini) and raw tomato.
See our Aioli recipe
Other forms of aioli
Similar sauces are found elsewhere in the region.
Allioli (pronounced: [ˌaʎiˈɔɫi], also spelled alioli [ˌaɫiˈɔɫi]), from all i oli, Catalan for “garlic and oil”, is a typical paste-like cold sauce of Catalonia, Balearic Islands and Valencia. It is made by pounding garlic with olive oil and salt in a mortar until a smooth texture is obtained. It is traditionally served with arròs a banda from Alicante, with grilled lamb, grilled vegetables and arròs negre, and comes in other varieties such as allioli de codony (allioli with quince paste) or allioli with pear.
Aillade is the name used in southern France for two different garlic-based condiments. In Provence, it is a garlic-flavoured vinaigrette, while in areas such as Languedoc-Roussillon, it is a form of garlic-flavoured mayonnaise. In the latter meaning, it is a synonym for aioli.