Alioli is a typical Spanish dip, used mostly for potatoes and Spanish tortilla, although there are many dishes accompanied by this delicious and simple sauce, such as Caldero and Arroz A Banda. Throughout Spain, especially in those bars that give you a "tapa" along a "caña", it is very likely that you will be served with alioli. The sauce however is also eaten in other countries such as some parts of France, Italy and Africa.
Alioli comes from Catalan and it means garlic and oil, although it has different names in the rest of the country, such as "ajolio" in Aragon. So even if it looks like mayonnaise, it's only made with olive oil and garlic.
In the past, Alioli was considered a sauce for the poor and lower classes. The sauce for the rich and the wealthy was an egg paste called mayonnaise, of course today there isn't such distinction. It's history may be so long as to go back to the Egyptians, who passed in on to the Romans, who in turn spread out in Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. Originally it was a preparation of crushed garlic and olive oil, mixed together until they formed a cream.
There are some variations, such as "alioli negado ", in which the garlic is not completely emulsified and is normally used as condiment or salad dressing. In Catalonia some of this variations include fruit, such as pear or quince, or with other ingredients, such as chopped anchovy, capers or olives. Naturally, adding different ingredients to the mixture will change the taste, making this Spanish sauce extremely adaptable. You can therefore change the recipe for alioli depending on what you want it to accompany. Yet another advantage of this great Spanish classic.
Today, Alioli is normally made using a mortar and slowly stirring to emulsify, however many people mix mayonnaise with garlic, which is a lot quicker, as traditional alioli takes some time to make, or use an egg yolk as an ingredient. We recommend you to take a cooking course in Barcelona and get a taste of the best alioli. But if you do want to give it a try at home...it uses very simple and common ingredients.
Traditional Recipe: Ingredients
Alioli: quick recipe using mortar and pestle: ingredients
Alioli can also be made with an electric food mixer, in which case you must use a whole egg. To do this you must first put all of the ingredients in the container, mix them a little and then begin pouring the oil in bit by bit.
Alioli is better served cool and it must be fresh, so you should consume it within a maximum of two days after you have prepared it. The great thing about this sauce though is that this won't be too hard! The sauce is used in so many dishes and is extremely versatile. You will see that it was worth the fiddly preparation!