Fishy Aioli

Le Grand Aioli is a celebrated summer tradition in Provence, where the locals whip up a vat of garlicky mayo with their fruity olive oil and ladle it over the seasonal bounty. Tomatoes, green beans, new potatoes and fish often figure prominently in the summer spread. But aioli’s knack for pulling a mélange of seasonal goodies into a cohesive meal works equally well in any season, so it’s also traditional on Christmas Eve. Just cover the table with platters of simply cooked meats and veggies, set a bowl of aioli at either end of the table, scatter a few bottles of wine, and let everyone go for it. Some of my favorite winter aioli supports are beets, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, fennel, turnips, rutabagas, grilled fish, salt cod, roast chicken and snails. It’s also insanely good over bouillabaisse. Most aioli recipes call for using egg yolks, but I add a whole egg so I don’t have to deal with the leftover white, and it always works fine. Years ago I began adding a squirt of fish sauce to my aioli. It rounds out the flavor and gives it beautiful depth. Use it sparingly enough that people don’t know what the secret is—they just know they can’t stop eating it.
By / Photography By Vera Chang | November 16, 2015


Makes enough for one 8-person feast

Mash the garlic and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Add the egg, salt, fish sauce and lemon juice, cover, and turn on the motor.

With the motor running, begin pouring the olive oil in the thinnest stream possible through the feed tube. After a few seconds, the sauce will become opaque and you can begin to add the oil a little bit quicker. Halfway through, the sound of the whipping will begin to deepen, and you can add the oil a little faster. The whole process will take less than a minute.

The aioli should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Open the food processor and scrape the aioli into bowls with a rubber spatula. Serve at once with a mix of plain meats and veggies. It will also keep in the fridge for a few days.

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  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled (more if you’re hard-core)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Juice of ¼ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil, preferably more fruity than bitter
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