As we have an excess of fresh garlic just at the moment. I decided to make aioli sauce as the accompaniment to the steamed fish and new potatoes that we are having for dinner.
Aioli is a very ancient form of sauce, a bit like mayonnaise, but flavoured with garlic. It’s a great addition to lots of meals. Tonight we are having fresh ‘Ling’ off the fish truck that comes up to the Highlands from the coast, 3 days a week. He arrives at 6.00am and is sold out by 1.00 or 2.00 pm. I get there just in time to get the last piece of ling and some fresh mussels.
I decide to steam the Ling with a few drops of olive oil, to stop it sticking, then add a few fresh leaves off the Kaffier lime tree on top. I deglaze with a crisp white wine and serve it with our steamed new potatoes and zucchini, picked fresh from the garden.
We have both green and yellow zucchinis at the moment. They are the first of the summer vegetables to come into full production so early on the the season. It’s still late spring. It isn’t even summer yet, but we have just had our first 40+oC day for the season. It forces us to be out watering both morning and night to keep the young summer vegetables from drying out and being set back.
I peel and then crush the cloves of one small knob of our fresh garlic, then add the juice of half a lemon, one egg yolk from our son Geordie’s chickens and whisk it all up together into a mucilarge. I then proceed to add just a few drops of olive oil to the mix, a few drops at a time while whisking with the other hand. This continues until a thick white, bulked-up consistency is achieved. It takes quite a lot of oil to bring this about.. Don’t worry if it takes a long time, just keep on adding a few more drops of the oil at a time. Don’t get frustrated and add too much in one go. To make a mayonnaise-like emulsification sauce, you need to be patient. Just add a few drops at a time and keep whisking. It will eventually emulsify.
This is a very ancient recipe, dating back into prehistory. It is to be found all over the south of Spain, France and northern Italy. It was apparently, originally, just a mix of garlic and olive oil to begin with. It was later found that the addition of a little egg yolk, stabilised the emulsion and thickened it considerably. It benefits from the addition of a little salt and some freshly ground pepper to taste.
Rick Stein has suggested that the garlic be crushed with the side of a large chef’s knife and then chopped fine, crushed again with the side of the knife and very fine chopped and worked into a paste. A rather nice craftsman-like way to do it. I like it. For those without the patience or the knife skills, a garlic press works well enough. I actually like it to be a little chunky and rustic. I also like it to have a lot of garlic in it.
Anyone can buy that anonymous, mild, made not-to-offend, finely milled, bland paste from the supermarket. It has too much salt and is loaded with preservative. What I’m making here is real life food, home grown, home made, organic, rough, chunky and strong flavoured.
However it is made, it is just right NOW at this time of year, when the garlic is so fresh and oily. Later in the year when it dries out and goes rather leathery, it just isn’t the same. At this time of year, aioli is a great accompaniment for lots of things that we grow and eat. It goes very well with fish and potatoes.
Aioli probably lasts quite a long time in the fridge, but we’ve never managed to keep it long enough to find out. It’s deliciously piquant.
We haven’t had any red meat since August, I’m starting to think that it would be nice to have a couple of lamb cutlets with aioli.