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Grilled Sardines and French Aioli

french aioli

Aïoli is kind of a big deal. It is the garlicky elixir by which sparse leftovers are transformed into sumptuous feasts. Recipes are fiercely guarded and hotly contested. Kirsten MacKintosh shares an authentic French aïoli recipe from Colliuore in the south of France…

Serves 4-5

20 fresh sardines, washed and gutted
Olive oil, to coat the sardines
10 wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for at least 20 minutes
4 lemons cut into wedges
Fleur de sel
Bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

french aoiliOil the fish, cavity and outside. Lay out 4 of the fish side by side and thread a skewer through the head ends and then another through the tail ends. Keep them packed tightly together, like, ahem, sardines….Repeat for the rest.

Season the fish well then lay them on a hot barbecue – 3-4 minutes each side until the flesh is cooked.

Dress with lemon juice, fleur de sel and chopped parsley.

Serve with Aïoli


Yield 1 cup

french aoili10 cloves garlic, peeled
Generous pinch of salt
Good quality extra virgin olive oil

Using a pestle and mortar, pound the cloves of garlic and salt until you start to lose sensation in your arms and feel a little faint! Keep going until you have a lump free paste.

This is something that requires dedication, practice and a Catalan lineage. Start to trickle the oil in a little at a time, until absorbed – it shouldn’t pool. Keep going until you have a smooth, viscous paste.

Aïoli also goes well with meat and vegetables. I even know people who spread it on bread for lunch. It is perfect with grilled sardines…

Bon appétit!

Read how Kirsten made friends over Aioli in Collioure in a taste of garlic and real life – it really does break down barriers!


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