Aioli is a traditional Mediterranean sauce that is primarily composed of garlic, oil, and egg yolks. It is often referred to as garlic mayonnaise due to its similar texture and appearance to mayonnaise. The word "aioli" is derived from the Catalan words "all" meaning garlic, and "oli" meaning oil. This rich and creamy sauce is known for its pungent garlic flavor, which is enhanced by the addition of a high-quality olive oil.
To prepare aioli, garlic cloves are typically crushed into a smooth paste using a mortar and pestle or minced finely. Egg yolks are then added to the garlic and whipped until smooth. Slowly, a steady stream of oil, commonly olive oil, is added while whisking continuously to emulsify the mixture and create a thick consistency. Other ingredients such as lemon juice, mustard, or seasonings like salt and pepper may also be added to enhance the flavor.
Aioli is a versatile sauce that pairs well with a variety of dishes. It is commonly used as a spread for sandwiches and burgers, a dip for vegetables or fried foods, or as a dressing for salads and seafood. Its strong garlic flavor and creaminess make it a popular choice for garlic lovers and adds a distinct taste to any dish it accompanies.
The word "aoli" has its origins in the French language. It comes from the French word "aïoli", which ultimately comes from the Provençal (a dialect of Occitan) word "alhòli". "Alhòli" is a compound word, combining "alh" (garlic) and "òli" (oil). In French, "aïoli" refers specifically to a traditional Provençal sauce made by emulsifying garlic, olive oil, and egg yolks (similar to mayonnaise). Over time, the word "aïoli" has been borrowed into other languages, including English, often referring to any garlic-flavored sauce or spread. The spelling "aoli" without the diacritical mark (ï) is also commonly used in English to simplify pronunciation.