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Apr 3, 2007 07:30 AM

Flavored aioli to go with crabcakes?

Friday night dinner this week is going to be Maryland crabcakes with aioli. I wanted to do something different with the aioli. I thought about roasted pepper (not bad) or saffron (would the garlic overpower the saffron?) or black truffle (is it worth it?).

Any suggestions as to what kind of aioli to serve with my crabcakes for something different? Or maybe a different sauce?


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  1. A pesto aioli would be excellent! If you want to go for something different, a curry/honey/mustard sauce would rock.

    1. Actually I make saffron aioli and find that it's a great change of pace with crabcakes. Because I like things spicy, I also enjoy chipotle aioli made with a bit of chopped chipotle and a generous spoon of adobo sauce. That's usually the most popular side sauce I make. I'm thinking about trying a sweet chili aioli made with Thai sweet chili sauce.

      Black truffle might get lost in an aioli sauce so I don't know that I would spend that much money.

      9 Replies
      1. re: JungMann

        JungMann, do you soak the saffron threads in something first, or just add them directly? The garlic doesn't overpower the saffron?

        1. re: QueenB

          I soak the saffron in hot water for a couple minutes and add everything to the food processor ending up with a beautifully yellow sauce. I use a crumbled pinch (around 8 threads) and find that's just about right for one cup of sauce. The garlic definitely doesn't overpower the saffron, but you should chill and taste to make sure your flavors are balanced because I *have* added too much saffron before and didn't really care for the results.

          1. re: JungMann

            I soak mine in warmed sherry vinegar- the vin brings something to the party, too!
            As long as I'm here:
            My first suggestion is a cajun aioli- start with the yolk, garlic, cider vinegar, a huge hefty helping of cajun blend seasoning- unsalted if you can- and a simple oil (I like the 10/90 olive/canola)
            I have made saffron aiolis for several seafoods, but I like bold flavors with my bold crabcakes- I think saffron can be too subtle- hence the sherry vin.
            As for the truffled aioli, the trick is to pack it with truffles- start with the yolk, a bit of garlic, some shallots, then use canned truffle pieces or truffle "pate" from a tube or jar- something with chunks- a bit of champagne vinegar, then start your emulsification with a flavorfoul and aromatic truffle infused oil (about 1/4-1/3 of the oil you'll be using- then you can switch to a simple evoo, or a flavorless grapeseed oil.

            1. re: lunchbox

              Oh that does sound good! I think I may try your version for Easter dinner. Do you add any other acid or just stick to the sherry vinegar? I sometimes find that it doesn't pack the right punch when I need an acidic note. What seasoning do you use for the cajun aioli? I've tried making one from Tony Cachere's and another from my own blend and didn't really like the results of either.

              1. re: JungMann

                Howdy, JungMann-
                As for your first question- I always have some lemons lying around when I make aiolis- If I need more acid, I like the brightness- but Sherry vinegar really is my all time favorite vin! If you think you need more liquid and less acid, sherry (the wine) or applejuice make a nice addition to many aiolis.
                As for the second question re: Cajun blends, I regret to infom you that I used Sysco brand- I think bottled by McCormic for foodservice! I use Tony Cachere's at home, though, but think it has a bit too much salt... I'd probably use a teaspoon of it to start the aioli, then add some Tobassco and worchestershire to spike it up.

              2. re: lunchbox

                lunchbox, I don't have sherry vinegar, but I have sherry and I have white wine vinegar. Would one of these work as well?

                1. re: QueenB

                  It will be different, but not unpleasantly so!
                  I think cooking with vinegars is an under appreciated art, but just trying added acids is a great way to figure out what you like.
                  For a Saffron aioli (which if I recall correctly is where this all started!) the most important flavor is the saffron. I think of it as a Spanish ingredient, so I look for other distinctly Spanish flavors to enhance the sauce. I like vinegar, so I look for a Spanish styled vinegar, and arrive at Sherry vin. To get there, however, I had to pass through Sherry. If I had sherry, but wanted more acidity, I'd have to think about what else I wanted to present. An aioli made with sherry and a great Spanish olive oil would taste magnificent, but not have the tart profile I like to pair with the fried/fatty character of the crabcakes. It would be spectacular with blanched or grilled vegetables. If I wanted to go back to tart, I think: Lemons, wine, tart berries... of these, I already have the Sherry working for me, berries wouldn't work in this application, so I can use lemons- it works well with the seafood, the fried, and the idea of "Spanish" so I would use lemon juice. By the same token, white wine vinegar is a great way to add acidity without adding undesired flavors- If you're steeping your saffron threads in your sherry, by all means keep that perfumed sweet character and use the simple vinegar to adjust the tartness!

                  1. re: lunchbox

                    That is exactly what I did! Steeped the saffron threads in the sherry, then added vinegar until it had the right taste I needed. It came out great, thank you!

          2. re: JungMann

            I love sweet chili sauce with my crab cakes. Just sweet Chili and lime juice and a splash of soy. YUM

          3. I sometimes make an orange sauce from an Ann Hodgman book. Even though I am usually not much of a fruit with meat person, it's a great sauce that lots of guests have enjoyed. Reduce 1 cup of orange juice with some minced shallot to a few tablespoons. Add white wine and reduce again.Whisk in cold butter (up to a stick) a bit at a time, over low to no heat. It should wind up quite thick. The original recipe says to strain, but I never do.

            1. I've enjoyed an "Old Bay Aioli", where I take some Old bay copycat, grind it fine, dampen to make a paste, and mix with the aoili.

              Old Bay copycat recipe here:

              1 Reply
              1. re: FoodFuser

                The cakes already have Old Bay in them. I'd probably be a bit overwhelmed with Old Bay aioli on top of it.
                Thank you though!

              2. It's not aioli (no garlic) but a mayonnaise with chopped Moroccan preserved lemon and horseradish is fantastic with crabcakes.