Aioli Mayonnaise and Remoulade

What is the difference between aioli mayonnaise and remoulade? All of them are wonderful condiments that are used to enhance countless cooking recipes all around the world. Let's look a little closer at them and see what they are made off.

Homemade RemouladeHomemade Remoulade

As with many ancient food traditions, the terms applied to different recipes vary greatly and overlap, especially in different places, due to the effect of time and travel and the tendency of people to generalize and borrow words. This messiness may offend terminological purists, and that problem cannot be solved, but here follows a very brief discussion of what the names for these sauces can refer to. 

Aioli Mayonnaise and Remoulade are versatile condiments

Basically they are all somewhat oily, and thickened with egg or garlic, or both. In the sauce you have oil, and often a water containing fluid like vinegar or lemon juice. Now as the famous idiom states, oil and water do not mix, so how do they come to do so in a sauce ? The answer is with the use of a natural emulsifier. This is a molecule which likes to have one end in a watery and the other in an oily environment, allowing the suspension of tiny droplets of water in oil, or oil in water, as the case may be, to form what is to the naked eye a smooth blend of the two. So oil and water do mix… with the right go betweens to help them !

The effect of this fine mix of droplets is to make the mix appear creamier and thicker. Egg protein and garlic both contain natural emulsifiers.

So incidentally do some nuts, allowing the creamy spiced peanut sauces typical of West Africa, and the coconut milk sauces of East Asia. While reading up on oily sauces I discovered that my grandma’s family salad dressing recipe passed on to me by my mother depended on garlic as an emulsifier, and could thus be loosely termed aoli (My grandma’s family originated in Friesland although aoli is more typical of the Mediterranean, but in our family we just called this slightly syrupy emulsion of garlic, sugar, lemon juice and oil ‘garlic salad dresssing’) and my husband’s traditional family recipe (his family originated in East Germany, but settled in Westphalia, close to France) depended on egg as an emulsifier and was a type of flavored mayonnaise, called remoulade in his part of the world !

Mayonnaise is a stable emulsion of egg (the proteins in the yolk being the emulsifier), oil, and vinegar or lemon juice.  Many varieties exist, flavored with different ingredients. The addition of mustard in French cooking, makes the sauce a “Remoulade”. By the way, mustard itself is also an emulsifier.

Remoulade sauce originated in France and to make matters confusing it can be based on mayonnaise or aioli. It has piquant flavourings added such as spices, pickles or horseradish 



depending on the region, and can be eaten with foods ranging from meat and fish to french fries. My husband’s Remoulade family recipe is flavored with mustard and fresh herbs and is mainly used as a dressing for a potato salad which includes boiled eggs…. delicious ! 



Mama's famous potato salad

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