“It’s a joy to partake in the ritual of making a good aïoli. The process has broken many a cook – not because it’s hard or complicated, but because it’s an emulsification of oil and egg yolk: add too much oil too quickly and it can easily split – this method demands focus. So why do it? Most shop-bought mayo, which would be the base, doesn’t use good oil, so here you have the power to make something lip-smackingly special. An aïoli is similar to a mayonnaise, but it’s pungent and almost spicy with the hum of raw garlic. It’s a boisterous condiment that, when made well and used in the right dish with restraint, is phenomenal. When a blob hits a hot soup, what might be too much in its raw state mingles to become something fantastic, and, when a small spoonful is rubbed across hot toast with cold roasted meats or dressed crab and a little lemon, you’ll discover a whole new level of deliciousness. So treat it more like Tabasco or English mustard, just like an antagonist. ”
Separate the eggs (save the whites for another recipe), placing the yolks in a large bowl. Scrunch up a wet cloth and place it on your surface so you can sit the bowl at an angle without it slipping. Adding it a drip at a time so you don’t split the yolks, whisk in the extra virgin olive oil, then the olive oil, speeding up the drips as you go – when it starts to really thicken, add a squeeze of lemon juice to loosen, then continue adding the oil, with more lemon when needed, use your instincts. Season to taste, tweaking with more lemon, if needed. To up the pepperiness, add more extra virgin olive oil, or add olive oil to make it milder. This gives you a nice base.
Now, peel the garlic and smash it up in a pestle and mortar with a small pinch of salt, then stir it through to create a feisty aïoli, ready to use in lots of different dishes. Sometimes I add an extra flavour, depending on the dish I’m serving it with, making aïoli continually exciting to use. Try smashing up and whisking in 4 anchovy fillets, adding flecks of finely chopped or smashed fresh soft herbs, stirring through chopped fresh chilli, to taste, or even a little saffron that you’ve steeped in boiling water.