Aioli is a garlic mayonnaise. It is a traditional Provençal sauce made of garlic, olive oil, and (typically) egg. There are many variations, such as the addition of mustard or, in Catalonia, pears. It is usually served at room temperature.
Aioli is, like mayonnaise, an emulsion or a 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. 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.
Many restaurants refer to any flavored mayonnaise as an aioli. This is an incorrect definition unless the resulting sauce includes the addition of garlic.
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 (usually carrots, potatoes, and green beans), boiled fish (normally, desalted salt cod), and boiled eggs served with the aioli sauce.
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