While our spicy aioli and romesco sauce may look similar, they are actually quite different. Romesco is a tomato and bell pepper sauce, while traditional aioli is made from garlic and olive oil with a pinch of coarse salt. We’re veering a bit off the beaten path with this spicy aioli sauce, adding some heat and flavor with sriracha and your choice of chili pepper.
If you like your sauces with more flavor and a little less spice, you can go with meco chipotle pepper, with its distinctive hickory flavor and mild heat. Mecos are smoked twice as long as the more widely used chipotle peppers, giving them more rich smoky notes that add depth to a sauce. However, if you like your sauces on the hotter side, you can grind up a Thai chili and spice up your aioli! Because there are so many options out there (and we like options), we’re also including some suggested herbs you can use if you want to make your aioli more aromatic and, well, herby. Parsley can brighten the sauce a bit, while chives add a hint of onion-like flavor. Try all the combinations and let us know which works best for you!
Press garlic cloves with the palm of your hand or the side of a wide kitchen knife to crack the skin. Peel the garlic and then cut off the tips and discard. Finely chop.
Use a mortar and pestle to grind your choice of dried chili. Choose meco chipotle pepper for mild heat and a smoky, hickory flavor. Use Thai chili pepper for more spiciness. Cut the stem off of your chili—if it has one—and then grind into your desired fineness. Transfer the chili powder into a small prep bowl and set it aside for later.
Measure out the olive oil into a measuring cup or other easy pour container. Have at the ready next to working surface.
If you use a mortar and pestle: sprinkle a pinch of sea salt into the bottom of the mortar. Add the garlic and begin to mash with the pestle. Drizzle a very small amount of oil into your mortar. Continue mashing the garlic, moving the pestle against the bottom and sides in a circular motion. Mash the garlic while very slowly adding small drips of olive oil. Continue mashing until your mixture reaches the consistency of smooth, whipped mayonnaise (about 20 minutes).
If you use a blender: add a pinch of sea salt and the garlic cloves into the blender. Use the lowest setting to grind the garlic into a fine paste. Slowly add olive oil while your blender runs on low. Continue drizzling oil into your mixture until all of the oil is added. When your mixture is done, it should be the consistency of smooth, whipped mayonnaise.
Once the mixture reached your desired consistency, add the sriracha and ground pepper, continuing to mix until thoroughly blended. If you’re using herbs for this batch, add the parsley and/or chive rings. Mix everything together.