Some will know this sauce as aioli. Others may know it as toum. While others simply refer to it as ‘garlic sauce’. No matter what you call it, this is definitely the most garlicky, most pungent, most intense and delicious sauce you will ever encounter!
We all know aioli as that delicious, creamy, garlicky sauce perhaps even enhanced by saffron, herbs, chilies, or other additions such as anchovies. While all of those are very nice and I would never say no to a mayonnaise-based sauce, this ‘real’ aioli (if there is such a thing as ‘real’ in cooking) is simplicity at its best– and, oh man, is it garlicky!!! This traditional aioli is made with only olive oil, fresh garlic cloves and a little bit of lemon juice and salt… No eggs. No mayo. No other seasonings. Just all that garlicky goodness and totally plant-based!
Traditionally, this sauce takes painstakingly long to make as the garlic cloves and oil are crushed together by hand using a mortar and pestle and the lack of egg makes it all a bit harder to process and emulsify. While I appreciate those that do all of that hard work by hand, I’m not really one for traditional methods unless it can’t be avoided (I have no patience). I find that a blender, small food processor, or even an immersion blender works a lot quicker than the ‘real’ traditional method, though, as is the case with any emulsion, the slow, slow pouring of oil cannot be avoided altogether, of course.
If you are into garlic as much as I am, this is definitely the sauce for you. And now that we are all still quarantined because of the coronavirus, it’s THE time to eat sauces like this — you’re not going anywhere, are you? And if you are, the lingering aroma of this sauce will make sure people stay at least 2 meters away from you 😉
Tip: Certain olive oils might make this sauce taste slightly bitter. It’s best to use more neutral oils such as sunflower, canola, peanut, or grapeseed instead. If you really want to use olive oil, use half olive oil and half neutral oil.
Tip 2: Make this sauce a day ahead to allow the flavors to blend well. I find letting it rest for a day, or more takes away some of the initial sharpness (though, it’s still very strong).
Real Aioli / Toum / Garlic Sauce (Vegan/Plant-Based)
- 1 large head of garlic (about half a cup of cloves when peeled)
- 250ml sunflower oil (or other neutral-tasting oils such as canola, peanut, or grapeseed)
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Peel the garlic and remove the center sprouts.
- Add the peeled garlic cloves and salt to a food processor, high-rimmed bowl (when using an immersion blender), or mortar and pestle. Process until the garlic starts to turn into a paste. The garlic needs to be very well crushed and pasty, not just chopped into small pieces.
- While the food processor is running, or whilst stirring and bashing the garlic with the mortar and pestle, very very slowly start adding the oil only a drop at a time at first until you’ve added about a 100ml of the oil. After adding the first 100ml of the oil the sauce should look like it starts to emulsify (turn white-ish and creamy-looking).
- After adding the first 100ml of oil, slowly stir in about a third of the lemon juice.
- When the lemon juice is well incorporated, continue the process with the other 100ml of oil, then another third of the lemon juice (both of which you can pour in a thin stream now rather than drops). Continue the process until you’ve added all of the oil and juice.