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Aioli vs. Mayonnaise vs. Hollandaise

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This started when we were at dinner last week at the Davis St. Tavern in Portland, Oregon. We had a great Steak Frites served with what the menu called "green chile aioli." It had a fabulous green chile flavor and I want to try to replicate it at home.

When I started pondering recipes I got confused. I believe that the standard definitions would sort out along the lines that an aioli doesn't have egg in it, mayonnaise does, and a hollandaise is cooked. But I'm not sure that's how restaurants use the terms these days - at least with respect to aioli, which seems to be a popular term.

What do you think is the "proper" definition and what do you think is common in restaurant parlance?

On a cooking note: yesterday I made mayonnaise and added roasted Hatch green chiles to the food processor at the end. There are noticeable, though not objectionable, green chile pieces in the mayonnaise. What we had at the restaurant didn't have these. I'm pondering infusing the oil with green chiles and then making a sauce. Any other ideas?

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Hi Nadyacat

What colour is the green chilli aioli? I always think as aioli as a rich mayonnaise as opposed to a much lighter hollandaise made with hot butter. I would think you best purée the chillies first and pass through a sieve and stir into the mayonnaise - bit tedious but that might do it.

Edited by Pam Brunning (log)

Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

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I've yet to see a recipe for aioli that didn't include egg; aioli is simply mayonnaise enhanced with garlic. In restaurants these days, you see a lot of further additions, especially capsicums. Red-pepper aioli is common, which I suppose makes it a cousin of rouille (some recipes for which do not include egg).

For maximum flavor, I'd infuse the oil with roasted chiles (many of the flavor compounds in chiles are fat-soluble), then follow Pam's suggestion of puree-and-sieve with another batch of peppers.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I've yet to see a recipe for aioli that didn't include egg; aioli is simply mayonnaise enhanced with garlic.

Most recipes include egg, but it's unnecessary. Not sure if they're traditionally part of aioli or not. Garlic has enough emulsifying power to make a stable concoction all by itself, as long as there is some water present (plain, or in the form of wine, vinegar, etc).

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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Maybe you can reduce green chili juice to a thick consistency then use extra virgin olive oil, very fresh eggs, salt, and roasted garlic, and roasted green chilies. Put the eggs, garlic, salt, and reduced green chili juice in blender. Turn on and slowly add in olive oil. Once it forms the consinstency you desire stir in the roasted green chilies.

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Thanks for the suggestions. The good news is that today the mayonnaise has more green chile flavor - not surprising that the fat brought out the flavor. But I like the ideas of pureeing the chiles - I'll try that. I also didn't add any garlic, and a bit of garlic might add some depth.

Re aioli: I have this vague memory of reading a rant about how real Spanish aioli didn't have eggs, but who knows where, or what that person was basing it on.

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This is how I do it. I like it without eggs.

5 garlic cloves

1/4 tsp coarse salt

1/8 tsp xanthan gum (optional, to stabilize emulsion)

1 – 2TB vinegar or lemon juice

1 – 2TB water (enough to bring the total water + acid content to 3TB)

1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

(all quantities are approximate)

-roughly mince garlic and put with salt in mortar and pestle

-crush until it's a smooth paste

-in a bowl or plastic container, mix acid and water. sprinkle xanthan over the top. allow to hydrate for a few minutes,and whisk until disolved.

-scrape garlic paste into container with acid and water. whisk.

-genlty whisk in oil (in small additions at first). be careful to let each addition to emulsify before adding more.

-if emulsion breaks, it's because there's too little water to accomodated the amount of oil. try whisking in a bit more water or acid. If this doesn't work, get a new container with 1 TB or so of water (or more acid if you want to adjust seasoning) and gradually whisk in the broken aioli.

Notes from the underbelly

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Some research reveals that Jose Andres (no slouch as a cook) makes aioli without egg. I'll have to try it.

For small batches:

Edited by ChefCrash (log)

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As far as I knew, aioli was a mayonnaise variant made with garlic crushed to a paste. After reading the comments here, I wasn't so sure.

My Larousse Gastronomique says that the word itself comes from the combination of words meaning "Garlic" and "Oil" and that this was how it was originally made. The convention then became to add egg yolk, thus making the mayonnaise-like aioli that many of us are more familiar with.

In the book, they give recipes for both an egg-free and a mayonnaise-like version.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I think there are several issues at work here having to do with the meaning of "aioli."

Traditionally, it seems that aioli is an emulsified mixture of garlic and oil, sometimes but not necessarily with other stuff. This potentially and often includes egg, but it seems that the oldest and most traditional iterations do not.

Then there is the French "mother sauce" view, which says that aioli is simply mayonnaise with garlic added. In this view, aioli always contains egg.

Then there is the modern view, in which "aioli" has come to be viewed as a "desirable food word" and all kinds of things are inappropriately called "aioli." When a certain sauce name becomes viewed this way, there is a often a confusion created with respect to nomenclature due to the practice of prefixing the better-known sauce name with "ingredient X." This is how we get things like "chipotle mayonnaise" and "blood orange hollandaise." Most traditionally, these things would get different names. This is why we have "rouille" instead of "saffron and red pepper mayonnaise" or "béarnaise" instead of "tarragon hollandaise."

It makes very little sense to me to call something "green chili aioli" that doesn't fundamentally taste like a cold emulsified garlic sauce with some green chilies added. If it doesn't taste fundamentally of garlic, then it makes no sense to call it any kind of aioli. Then there is a question as to what kind of green chilies are meant. Since eggs are not needed to emulsify an aioli, I'd consider doing something like roasting halved poblano chilies until soft (this will cook off some of the water and intensify the flavor) then puree them in a blender with plenty of garlic (you may want to sieve this mixture depending on the power of your blender ) and then drizzle in oil to emulsify to the thickness you desire. Use an egg yolk (but not the white) if you like. If you want the garlic flavor more in the background compared to the chili flavor, you could use roasted garlic. I have no idea how cooking might affect the emulsifying power of the garlic.


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here is a power-tool driven version of aioli that I made yesterday..(it's gone now!)

2 garlic cloves

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Stone Ground Mustard (you can sub Dijon mustard)

10 peppercorns

pinch of salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

stick it in a deep container

blitz it with a electric stick blender - voilal! instant aioli.

refrigerate overnite and the garlic mellows out, and the aioli becomes fabulous.

we're in the new millenium! forget about a mortar and pestle....

Edited by Heartsurgeon (log)

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The stick blender is fine most of the time, but some extra virgin olive oils (especially very flavorful, unrefined ones) can turn bitter when overworked. If you're using one of these, you want to avoid the machines.

Whether you're using a machine or not, it's probably a good idea to combine the water-based ingredients and the emulsifying ingredients before adding the oil. You want to make sure you end up with an oil-in-water emulsion and not the reverse. Aioli and mayo should be creamy, not greasy.

Notes from the underbelly

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I hadn't thought about using my stick blender - I don't think I use it enough! How deep is deep? Like 4", 6", 8"? I'm notoriously mess prone.

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