Saffron Aioli

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Aioli is one of those magic sauces, equally at home with both fried foods and poached meats. It is a Spanish garlic mayonnaise — aioli requires garlic to be an aioli — to which I’ve added some saffron for color and flavor.

A ramekin of saffron aioli.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

How to make saffron aioli? Well, traditional aioli uses just garlic and olive oil, but getting it to properly emulsify can be tricky; I do it occasionally. Adding an egg yolk makes things a lot easier.

If you choose to skip the egg yolk, you might want to use the high end of the garlic in the recipe, because members of the allium family — onions, garlic, leeks — can help emulsify oils into mayo-like sauces.

That said, my advice is to use the egg yolk and go with the lower end of the variable ingredients — garlic and lemon juice — the first time you make saffron aioli.

If for some reason your aioli breaks, or is way too thin, put another egg yolk in a clean bowl, then, whisking constantly, drizzle the broken aioli into it. It should come back together and thicken to a mayo-like consistency.

Two large garlic cloves in this recipe will make a powerful sauce, and you might not want things that, well, “loud.” (Read: Stinky) And remember you can always add a little lemon at the end.

What to serve your saffron aioli with?

Saffron aioli served with salt cod fritters on a plate.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Well, pictured are salt cod fritters, which are traditional. Some other good choices would be fish and chips, turkey schnitzel, or fried quail. Generally anything fried you eat with your fingers.

Incidentally, when you make Basque cod pil pil, you are, more or less, making aioli in the pan, using the released gelatin from the fish to emulsify things.

Once made, your saffron aioli will keep for a week or so in the fridge. It does not freeze well, however.

A ramekin of saffron aioli.
5 from 4 votes

Saffron Aioli

Since this aioli will keep in the fridge for several days, it is good to have around when you plan on eating fried food. I also like it with very simply poached meats, especially any breast from an upland game bird: turkey, pheasant, partridge, etc. It also works well with chicken or any white fish.
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Spanish
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 or 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 or 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Instructions 

  • Crumble the saffron threads into the hot water in a small bowl. Let them steep 10 minutes.
  • In the bowl of a blender, briefly buzz the garlic, lemon juice, salt and egg yolks to combine. Add the saffron and the water and buzz until smooth.
  • With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the whole thing emulsifies into a mayonnaise-like consistency. Taste for salt and acid, adding a little lemon juice and salt if needed.
  • Serve the aioli cold. It should last in the fridge for several days.

Nutrition

Calories: 150kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 234mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 26IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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