This sauce has a strong presence in Spanish cuisine. It is used as an accompaniment to many different dishes including meats, fish, shellfish, rice dishes, and vegetables. In certain parts of Spain like the Mediterranean coast or the Balearic Islands, it is sometimes served hot, or even baked with fish.
It seems like this sauce has its origin in Spain, but the original recipe was more of an aioli. It was the French who removed the garlic from the original recipe because it was too strong for their cuisine. Initially the sauce was made in a mortar and with a lot of patience!
Remember this sauce uses raw eggs, so if you don’t take the necessary precautions, there is a small risk of contracting salmonella poisoning. Using organic acids in the recipe like lemon juice, vinegar and the acids in the olive oil, will reduce the likelihood of salmonella, since this bacteria doesn’t survive acidic pHs. Make sure you use it within hours or a few days of making it though.
Directions to prepare Mayonnaise:
- Make sure the eggs are room temperature, if they are not at the same temperature as the oil, you have a higher chance of the sauce curdling. Crack the eggs and place them in a tall cylindrical cup (like the one that comes with the hand blender). Pour the oil, the vinegar or lemon, and add a pinch of salt. Place the hand blender inside the cup, so the blades are at the bottom of the cup, and start blending. After a few minutes, it will start to emulsify.
- Don’t move the blades from the bottom until the sauce starts to emulsify, or it might curdle (this is common if you don’t have much practice). Once it starts to emulsify, you can start to move the hand blender slowly up and down, to finish mixing the sauce. Make sure you don’t stop blending until it is ready.
- If the mayonnaise doesn’t bind together or it curdles, don’t panic, and don’t throw it out. Just make a new one, and when it starts to emulsify, just pour the curdled mayonnaise little by little into the new mayonnaise.
Directions to prepare the aioli variant:
- Peel a garlic clove. Pour oil into a pan and heat over low heat. When the oil is warm, add the garlic clove and confit it for about 10 minutes over low heat. Place the whole confit garlic clove in a tall cylindrical cup (like the one that comes with the hand blender) and pour in oil until there is about ½ of an inch of oil in the cup. Add a pinch of salt and the egg. Place the hand blender inside the cup, so the blades are at the bottom of the cup, and start blending. After a few minutes, it will start to emulsify (that is, to turn into a cream). Now you can start to move the hand blender slowly up and down, to finish mixing all the oil into the egg.
- When it is ready, you can increase the volume by adding some extra virgin olive oil. The aioli goes really well with the baked or boiled potatoes. Sprinkle a pinch of paprika to garnish the sauce and give it a little color.
As you can see it is not too difficult. It is a great sauce and an accompaniment for many summer recipes.