September 2, 2015

Lowcountry Aioli

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Try this wonderful spicy, elaborate aioli with seafood. It sure beats humdrum tartar sauce. South Carolina’s Lowcountry is a coastal region with its own distinctive cuisine. Adapted from The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life. Conroy is the author of The Prince of Tides. (Link: How to make the best homemade mayonnaise and aioli.)

1 plum tomato (4 oz/125 g), halved
4 oz (125 g) piece sweet onion (about 1/4), halved
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded
habañero pepper, halved, seeded
2 tsp (10 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (250 mL) mayonnaise
1 tsp (5 mL) white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) or more kosher salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground black pepper

Place oven rack 1 tier above middle. Preheat oven to 450F (230C).

Place wire rack on baking sheet. Arrange tomato, onion, green pepper and habañero on rack. Brush with oil. Roast in preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until tender and slightly charred, transferring pieces to large fine-mesh sieve as they are ready. Cool to room temperature.

Add mayo and vinegar to medium bowl. Skin, core and finely chop tomato; add to bowl. Finely chop onion; add to bowl. Skin and finely chop green pepper; add to bowl. Using fork, mash together 1/4 habañero, garlic and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Add to bowl. Add black pepper. Combine with fork. If desired, finely chop and gradually add bits of remaining habañero, tasting for desired heat. (Save remainder for other uses.) Adjust salt.

Use immediately. Or transfer to storage tub, cover and refrigerate.

Makes 1-3/4 cups (425 mL).

  • Vidalia and walla wall are common varieties of sweet onions.
  • If you can’t find a habañero, use a scotch bonnet.
  • It is essential that the vegetables be well drained, so they don’t make the mayo runny.
  • You can prepare this with commercial mayonnaise, but homemade mayonnaise is way better. (I use fabulous foolproof Minute Mayo or French Mayonnaise.) You may have to adjust the amount of vinegar, depending on the type and tanginess of the mayonnaise you choose.
  • This aioli can be stored in the fridge up to 4 days.

Tested in Imperial