You see it on menus, on sandwiches and in-depth on Food Republic. It's aioli, and you know it looks like mayonnaise, but if it were mayo they'd call it mayo. It's delicious, spreadable, dippable and seems like it would make a great homemade ranch dressing. But it's not mayonnaise. So what is the difference between mayonnaise and aioli?
Mayonnaise, loosely defined, is an emulsion of neutral-flavored oil like canola, egg yolk, vinegar and/or lemon juice and sometimes a dash of powdered mustard to bring out the flavor and help the emulsion stay together. Aioli, on the other hand, hails from the southern French region of Provence, and begins not in a blender but with a mortar and pestle and several cloves of garlic. When the garlic is pounded to a paste, it's whisked into the traditional preparation of egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard and olive oil instead of canola (which adds olive oil's fruity aroma into the mix).
Aioli is typically served as a dip for vegetable crudité, boiled eggs and shellfish, while mayonnaise is more widely employed in a variety of ways. But now that you know all about aioli, it might be hard to go back to Hellman's.
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