Aïoli and seafood delight

There must have been something in the Atlantic ocean’s air this morning when I woke up – for all I wanted to do was to get the kids ready and drag everybody to Soulac-sur–mer for the Saturday seafood market.

Deep coral colours marked my day and opened my appetite for a crustacean lunch. If a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets, then mine is filled with tourteaux crabs, bulots and bigorneaux (marine snail). I just can’t explain my love for seafood, apart from the fact that I grew up by the sea, influencing my palate’s memory. The best crab I ever had was at Trishna’s (Birla Mansion, Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, India), for their butter pepper garlic king crab fulfilled my every wish for food perfection.

I love going to Soulac’s market because of its ‘Belle Epoque’ look and feel. Located at the tip of Médoc, Soulac is sheltered by pine-covered dunes and fronted by the Atlantic ocean. Attractive villas sprang up in th early 19th century making this village a little gem of a seaside resort. I am always told by locals that the charm of Soulac is its inacessibilty – as it’s a quite a little detour to get there, it is never over-crowded by tourists.

There was so much choice that I hesitated for a while, from freshly fished daurades, bar, oysters and lobsters to name a few. I decided to choose a dos de cabillaud (cod) for two reasons: the kids like it, and I thought of a perfect match – the aïoli. Aïoli is a classic French Provençal sauce made of garlic, olive oil and egg yolk. My mother is originally from Séte in the South of France, and whenever she was homesick she would always talk about a good aïoli. After an aïoli meal, you might feel embalmed by garlic, chasing away any hint of a future cold. This is pure sunshine food! I couldn’t resist adding a few goodies – cooked tourteaux crab, a few shrimps, bulots (winkles) and a pot of fresh mayonnaise – they are perfect starters when we come home famished from the market!

I like to serve the aïoli sauce with vegetables and fish. The classic version requires boiled eggs, but I don’t add them because I find the sauce so powerful that I want to keep the taste simple. You can add any vegetables you like – I found these beautiful cranberry beans at the market so I added a few to this recipe. This dish offers a perfect blend of flavours, and the sauce is the high note of the meal. You can use a food processor to make this sauce, or a pestle and mortar (which is what I used).

Ingredients: (serves 4)

For the aïoli sauce
2 egg yolks
4 cloves garlic (I like it strong, but you can add 2 if you prefer a milder version)
120 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crush the garlic with a garlic crusher and transfer to the pestle and mortar. Crush the garlic again to obtain a smooth purée. Transfer to a bowl, add egg yolks and start whisking away, slowly adding the olive oil. When the sauce starts to thicken (like a mayonnaise), add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Alternatively, you can mix everything in a food processor. Blend steadily until a thick sauce starts to form.

For the fish and vegetables:
600-800 grs cod (or any white fish of your choice)
4 carrots (cut in small quarters)
2 large handfuls of cranberry beans (optional)
300 grs French green beans (haricots verts extra-fins – tips cut off)
8 small potatoes
A small handful of parsley to sprinkle
Salt & pepper

Pre-heat your oven 200° celsius.

In an oven proof dish, place the fish – add salt, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Cook in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes (or until fish is cooked to your taste).

Cook carrots and potatoes in salted boiling water for approx 15 minutes, add the green beans 8 minutes towards the end as they cook faster. Drain and set aside.

Serve the aïoli with the fish with vegetables.

25 thoughts on “Aïoli and seafood delight

  1. Wonderful blog full of so many delights, thank you! I have also eaten at Trishna in Mumbai, lord that is a meal I’ll never forget, the seafood was so succulent my family and I went back the next day for more. The garlic crab was certainly out of this world, and perhaps made all the better because we had just toured an adjacent fishing village, and watched the fisherman dragging in their fresh catch that morning.

    1. Aaaaah!! I am so happy to hear you have tried that crab too! You are so lucky to have visited the fishing village:) I can’t wait to go back to Trishna! It was unforgettable! Mimix

  2. I am new to your blog and I am just crazy about it! I was wondering if you were able to print the recipes with metric and whatever it is we use in the u.s.! I made the rice and eggs with ginger, and have bought the ingredients of the onion/bacon tarte–but what should I use for the fromage blanc–any kind of white soft cheese? Now I want to do the aoli. Trying to cook like this in a town that likes McDonalds can make you crazy, but I’m not giving up! Thank you for this beautiful blog, great food and exquisite photos!

    1. Hi Susan!! Thank you so much for visiting my blog – I am so incredibly happy that it has inspired you to cook – it really makes my day! I will try my best to add American measures to the recipes – I know it will make cooking much easier. Regarding to your question, I would substitute fromage blanc with either Greek yogurt, or even sour cream !(it’s a bit richer – I think I prefer that :)!) – Aïoli is so easy to do – you can have it with fish, or simply with potatoes like my mother likes it! It’s also great as a dip. Keep on cooking! Once you start, there’s no stopping! The best food is home-cooked food! Mimixx

  3. Fantastic post, both the writing and the photos provide great inspiration and make me hungry to explore France again. And I have to agree with you about the crab at Trishna’s — my wife and I discovered it just before we got married.

  4. i always get really intimidated thinking about cooking anything coming out of the sea (i grew up landlocked, catfish is king). i think this sounds delicious and something that i could start out on, nothing too scary!

  5. Hello Mimi, I came across your wonderful blog today on Pinterest and it is just full of so many wonderful recipes and photographs. I am currently living & working in Seoul, so it will be almost impossible to find the all the ingredients needed, however, once I am back in the UK (can’t wait) I will start cooking! Thank you

  6. Mimi, your blog is transporting. I close my eyes and I am in Soulac. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience. The food and recipes are divine. The photos priceless. You must put out a book!

  7. Bravi! The whole family, your life style, Mimi’s recipes, husband’s photoes, Medoc …. everythings is naturale and beautiful. Siete mitici***

  8. Hi, Mimi. What a wonderful life you have. I was lucky to live in France for a year in my 20s. The town was Chateauroux in the Indre. Wonderful experience, for the first time I tried escargot and frog’s legs! Some of my ancestors are from the Bordeaux region – love La France! Your blog is the greatest, but like others have expressed, please try to offer your recipes in metric measures! I am dying to try your fish and aioli recipe, will go to the web to search for the metric equivalent. I am a retired lady with two delightful grandkids and they live in a farm in Frederick, Maryland, USA with 4 dogs and the deer and other animals. I spend a lot of time at their home. Isn’t farm life delightful? My best to you and your family and please keep the recipes coming!

    1. Thank you Laura! Lovely to hear you lived in Chateauroux. All those wonderful memories. I just went back to the aïoli recipe, and yes you are right, I did not convert at that time (will update asap). Mimi x

  9. I visited friends in the Perigord my first time in France this year. Thank you for helping to continue the dream for me. I love your recipes and photography and share them around the globe.

  10. Hi Mimi,
    bought your book a couple of weeks ago in Paris, at Galignani. Every night we fight over it with my daughter and my wife. It has brought us back to the kitchen, to start cooking again. Thanks.

    Got into your blog this morning and saw a picture of you and youur kids at the fish market. See some mackerels there. You may try them cooked over grape vines or even cover them in hot grape vines. Whole but gutted, olive oil, salt and pepper and taste them with aoili.
    Our mackerels here in Peru not as oily as the ones you get in the Atlantic, so yours should be even better.

  11. Love your blog!! Saw it the first time a couple of years ago and could never find it again as I forgot the name, but rediscovered it today, and so happy to have done so!! By the way, I completely agree, Trishna’s butter garlic crab is just the best ever! Can’t wait for my next trip to Bombay! 2nd would have to be the pepper crab at Jumbo’s in Singapore!

  12. so glad I found your blog. It’s like reading agood book you can’t keep down. love how much effort is put in the aesthetic and cant wait to try out all the recipes

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