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How to make a saffron infused alioli


Saffron Alioli Recipe

Alioli is a mediterranean recipe, translated from Spanish ali means garlic and oli means oil, so literally translated the original recipe is a garlic and oil sauce. The original recipe is very hard to make mainly due to the time involved in getting the oil to the right texture without an emulsifier.

Our method first makes a mayonnaise and then adds the garlic to make the alioli. The egg yolk and mustard is added to emulsify the oil. Emulsify basically means to mix 2 things which don't normally mix (eg oil and water).  So the molecules in the emulsifiers manage to hold the water and the oil molecules together in an emulsion.  Emulsions can be unstable and break down again.  If this happens dont worry you can add more egg yolk and whisk it again to reform the emulsion.

The recipe below is very easy to make and wont take more than about 10 minutes. Other saffron alioli recipes will call for powdered saffron. Our recipe doesn't require powdering, we prefer to infuse the saffron into the vinegar to give the saffron a deeper influence over the dish. You could also infuse the saffron into the olive oil but this will take much longer to infuse due to the heavier consistency of the oil.  The longer you can infuse the saffron into the vinegar (overnight is preferable) the better the alioli will taste.


2 Egg Yolks

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 Tablespoon Dijon or French mustard

1 Teaspoon Vinegar

10-12 Saffron Threads

Fresh lemon juice

Salt & White Pepper


Preparing the saffron vinegar :

1. Saffron vinegar should be prepared as far in advance as possible.  Simply drop the saffron threads into a teaspoon of vinegar and leave to soak as long as possible - preferably overnight.  If you havent left enough time, heat the vinegar up, and the saffron will infuse faster.  The vinegar will take on a golden colour as it soaks up the beautiful colour of the saffron.

Alioli Ingredients in Mixing Bowl

Making the alioli :

1. Add the eggs, mustard, and saffron infused vinegar into a mixing bowl (see image to the right).

2. With an electric whisk (or manual whisk if you have strong arms) whisk the mixture until it becomes creamy and frothy.

3. Whilst still whisking, start adding the oil very very slowly to the mixture.  Use an oil dispenser with a small lipped nozzle if possible and slowly slowly trickle the oil into the spinning whisk so that it mixes very thoroughly into the mixture.

4. Count to 20 whilst you are pouring the oil in.  It is really important you have patience here because if you pour the oil in too fast your alioli will separate so slowly keep drizzling the oil in, stopping the oil at times but keep whisking.  The mixture will take on a different sort of texture a bit like making a meringue (a yellow oily meringue).

5. Once you have drizzled about half the oil in and the mixture is stable you can start pouring it in a little bit faster.

6. Keep whisking

7. Once the oil is finished, keep whisking, and the mixture will start to take on little peaks, similar again to a meringue.  At this stage add the salt and white pepper to taste.  

8. Add the garlic - finely chopped - at least one clove but maybe 2 depending on how garlicky you want it to be.  Dont stop whisking, mix the garlic really thoroughly into the sauce.  The sauce will become quite thick by now.  Give it a taste test.

9. Add some lemon juice to thin it out a little bit until you get just the right texture that you want.

There you have it, a saffron alioli !  You can put it in the fridge and it will keep for a couple of days at least.  It is absolutely delicious with seafood, fried food, vegetables, or just on hot toast.


- A trick if you are running short of time is to heat up the vinegar which will speed up the infusion process. Dont worry about removing the saffron threads from the vinegar before adding to the mixture, the whisking will break it down into small pieces, and actually it makes your alioli look quite interesting to have flecks of red appearing through the sauce.

- Extra virgin olive oil will give your alioli quite an olive oil taste, so go for something a little bit lighter and less overpowering.

- Add some chopped dill, fresh basil, tarragon, or anything else you can think of to give your alioli a slightly different taste.



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