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Ask a Foodie: Aioli, Alioli … It’s All Garlic To Me

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jean_victor_balin_toque1Q. This question came up in a kitchen recently and I kept my mouth shut because I wasn’t sure of the answer. I tried to look up alioli in “Food Lover’s Companion,” which so often has answers, but couldn’t find it.  So the question: are alioli and aioli the same thing or different. Are they both garlic sauces?

A. The answer to your first question is no, dear, they are not the same thing. The answer to the second is that yes, they are both garlic sauces. And, hooray for that, we’d like to add.

First of all, alioli, which has that pesky extra “l”, is a sauce from Spain and a word that came from the Catalan language. (Spoken, as you know if you’ve been there, in Barcelona.)  From “The Cuisines of Spain, Exploring Regional Home Cooking,” by Teresa Barrenechea, comes the following information:

“The name of this sauce is derived from the Catalan all i oli, which means “garlic and oil …  Many people outside of Spain have the mistaken notion that the sauce contains eggs, but an authentic alioli, which is best described as a white and shiny sauce with a strong garlic flavor, does not,” writes Barrenechea.

On the other hand, aïoli, from the Provence region of France, does contain egg. So, it is pale yellow and creamy, like mayonnaise.  One use for it is as a dip, for sliced, raw vegetables.

Just to muddy the mayonnaise a bit, let’s toss in aglio e olio. This is Italian for “garlic and oil” and like the Spanish sauce is a combination of olive oil and garlic. In this case, the olive oil is hot and the sauce is tossed into pasta.


6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup corn oil (see note)

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, water and salt and process until a smooth paste forms. Combine the olive and corn oils in a measuring cup with a spout. With the motor running, add the oils in a slow, thin, steady stream, continuing to process until the oils are completely incorporated and the sauce has emulsified. Transfer the sauce to a bowl. Use immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Note: The author says that mixing equal parts olive oil and another subtler vegetable oil, makes a better emulsion than if you use only olive oil. Adding a little water helps keep the emulsion from breaking.

Makes about 1 cup.

From Teresa Barrenechea

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2 Responses to “Ask a Foodie: Aioli, Alioli … It’s All Garlic To Me”

  1. Pingo says:

    Thanks for the recipe fro Alioli. It was great and a keeper in this household.
    I made it for a very quick supper. Boil wide noodles, linguine or angle hair pasta according to the package (making the Alioli while the pasta cooks). Place frozen, cooked shrimps in your colander and drain the the pasta over them. Place in a serving bowl, add about 1/2 cup of the Alioli and toss, so the pasta gets nice and shiny. Sprinkle on a couple of Tbs. of chopped parsley (use the same food processor to chop the parsley) and serve immediately. Dinner ready in less than 15 minutes.

    • Thanks Pingo – The way you used it sounds perfect. Another use that I encountered in Spain was — diced, deep-fried potatoes tossed with the alioli, or with the alioli served alongside as a dip. Good!