Artichokes with Garlic Mayonnaise

5 November 2011

Post image for Artichokes with Garlic Mayonnaise

I adore artichokes. As a child, my mother would boil a whole artichoke for my dinner on those nights when she was preoccupied with other things or, more likely, fed up with cooking and needed to give me a no-fuss dinner. Hard task given that I was a fussy eater for most of my life.

But I always enjoyed my solitary meal of boiled artichokes which I would ceremoniously sit down to in front of the telly, picking off the leaves one-by-one and sucking off what scant flesh there was on the edge of each leaf. Once I was done making my way through all of the leaves (which usually took this fussy eater quite a while), my mum would then cut through the remains to reveal the heart. Though normally by this stage, I would have lost interest and demanded toast.

As I grew older, I came to realise that the heart was the prize part of the vegetable, and that the artichoke leaves tasted better when dipped in a vinaigrette.

And then suddenly the years flew by and I was only reminded recently of eating artichokes this way when I was invited to dinner at my neighbours place. As a shared starter, they served a boiled whole artichoke on a small platter in the middle of the table where each person could help themselves to a few leaves at a time, dipped into a homemade vinaigrette. I was instantly transported to my childhood of exactly the same meal and marvelled that the solitary dinner of my youth could be a shared experience as an adult. I wasn’t sure how one was to eat an artichoke in the company of others but, of course, there is no other way.

In Luke Nguyen’s new book, Indochine, he explores the French influences on Vietnamese cuisine. One particular recipe in the book which struck me was the Artichokes with Garlic Mayonnaise. The artichoke didn’t strike me as a common vegetable in Vietnamese cooking, despite the fact that I have memories of eating it as a child. Whilst it may not be common, the Vietnamese do certainly cook with artichokes and there are some dishes where my mum would use artichokes in place of bamboo. I’m not sure if my mum discovered the artichoke in Australia or if she had previously encountered it in Vietnam. And she certainly never made mayonnaise at home, nor did she ever serve it with artichokes. I think the only time we expected the presence of mayonnaise in Vietnamese cooking was in our banh mi, a Vietnamese baguette filled with a delicious assortment of paté, pork terrine, pickles and herbs.

But I was intrigued by Luke Nguyen’s report of this recipe and was eager to try this pairing of artichokes with garlic mayonnaise. Though, as soon as we sat down to dinner, hubby was already shaking his head at the presence of mayonnaise instead of the traditional vinaigrette. I must admit that I was also skeptical, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the artichoke tasted with the garlic mayonnaise.

Whether as a solitary meal or a shared starter, preparing artichokes is fairly simple. Depending on size, one artichoke can serve 1-2 persons as a starter. Simply wash the artichokes in cold water and trim off the stalks. Place the artichokes in a large pan of boiling water and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Bring the water to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 40 minutes until the outer leaves come away from the stem easily.

Meanwhile, make the garlic mayonnaise (or, as the French call it, äioli). Luke’s mayonnaise recipe starts with 3 garlic cloves which was a bit too over-powering for me, despite having deliberately used small garlic cloves. In future, I would start with maybe just one finely minced garlic clove and add more to taste at the end.

Mince 1 small garlic clove into a bowl, and whisk in 2 egg yolks, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Measure 50 ml of olive oil into a measuring jug, and then 200 ml of vegetable oil so that you have a total of 250 ml (1 cup) of oil. Place the bowl on a damp tea towel so that it does not move while you are whisking. Whisk a few drops of oil at a time into the egg mixture until it is emulsified (that is, well incorporated). Once you have used 50-100 ml of the oil, you can whisk in more oil at a time, making sure that the mixture is emulsified before you add more oil. The end result should be a rather thick and glossy mixture. Taste for seasoning to see if you want to add more salt or lemon juice, though bear in mind that the lemon juice will thin the mixture a little. If you feel the mayonnaise could do with a bit more bite, add some more minced garlic. The mayonnaise keeps well in fridge for a few days, covered with clingfilm.

To serve, place the whole artichokes onto a serving plate and allow people to help themselves to a few of the outer leaves at a time. Make sure you have some bowls for the discarded leaves. Once most of the tough outer leaves have been removed, carefully remove all of the remaining soft leaves, and then scrape away the fuzzy part (the choke) remaining on the stem to reveal the artichoke heart. Cut the heart into small pieces to serve.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo 6 November 2011 at 8:44 am

Ok, I’ll admit it – eating flowers scare me, especially monstrous ones like these bad boys! I have had a rather sheltered upbringing – I would be plonked in front of the tele with beef burger and oven chips not artichokes lol! However, only this week I’ve been tempted to try them through an Indian stew recipe from Aarti Sequeira (think it is less scary to try them in something rather than alone lol!). So tell this foodie-in-training Creme, what does an artichoke taste like? I dare say it can’t taste bad with that aioli!

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eat, little bird 6 November 2011 at 6:08 pm

Believe me, as a kid, I would have much preferred burgers and chips to a whole artichoke! I think artichokes can be commonly found on pizzas or as part of an Italian antipasti where they have been marinated in herbs and oils. I think it’s difficult to describe the taste but they can be a bit bland on their own, which is why they work well with vinaigrette or äioli. I think you’ll just have to try one and find out! :-)

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Caroline 6 November 2011 at 12:28 pm

I adore artichokes, though I have only discovered it after marrying TheScotsman! Its not a common veg in India!

Jo, its hard to describe the taste. Its a savoury, but still sweet, with a tangy finish on the palate. It is not overpowering or fruity or floral. Tastes the same as vegetables do, courgettes for example, but with more flavour.

Lovely article Thanh as always, but I am giggling, cos thats a posh kid’s TV dinner hahah! Nice! Can’t imagine you being a fussy eater! Gives me hope with Hannah!

Not that I want you to give your secrets away, but this is a night shot, with a tungsten light?

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eat, little bird 6 November 2011 at 6:18 pm

LOL!! Hardly posh but might seem that way because I suppose it is an unusual kiddie meal! My mum was probably stuck on what to cook for me one evening and found an artichoke in the fridge which she boiled up for me. And being a fussy eater, she was probably surprised that I enjoyed it and then continued to keep artichokes on hand for me. No complaints from me :-)

Actually, I took this photo at lunch next to a bright window! I found the dull green of the artichoke after cooking it a bit difficult to photograph, particularly next to the pale yellow mayonnaise. So it is perhaps these colours, together with the dark wooden table, made it look like an evening shot? I actually don’t bother with taking food photos at night. I know there are special settings and lights which you can buy, etc., but I don’t think the photo quality would be the same …

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Liz Headon 6 November 2011 at 4:48 pm

I love artichokes but have had them very rarely. They don’t appear often here, certainly not regularly enough for me to be aware of them and for it to occur to me to buy them just for myself. I’ve always had them with vinaigrette but I can imagine äioli working well. I love foods you sit and fiddle with in contemplative fashion (artichokes, crab, lobster, whole fish that need teasing off the bone etc etc) but as I was always catering for three male persons, such meals were not popular: they preferred meals where you just apply knife and fork and get eating !

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eat, little bird 6 November 2011 at 6:23 pm

Oh I’m like you, Liz, though I can imagine that such foods would drive some people crazy. I know a few people who don’t enjoy “working” for their food, if you will. The artichoke would be an extreme food for them – there is hardly much on the leaves and there is a bit of work involved in getting to the heart, which is generally not that filling on its own!

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pietra 6 November 2011 at 4:49 pm

Here in Oregon we grow LOTS of artichokes in our gardens! It will never choke me, ha!

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eat, little bird 6 November 2011 at 6:24 pm

Lucky you!! I would love a bountiful supply of artichokes in my garden. What do you cook with your artichokes?

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anh@anhsfoodblog.com 7 November 2011 at 12:13 am

Artichokes are very popular in Da Lat (a highland in southern Vietnam). I didn’t eat them growing up in Hanoi, but they are getting more popular now.
I certainly would love to try this recipe out!!

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eat, little bird 8 November 2011 at 8:05 pm

I think I remember seeing artichokes growing in Dalat but it never occurred to me that it was a vegetable used in Vietnamese cooking. Now I am keeping my eyes open!

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Patti 7 November 2011 at 7:24 pm

My mom & I used to eat artichokes when I was growing up & I never was interested in the heart either! She would tell me it was the best part but the little “fuzzies” always turned me off. I know better know!! We always dipped the leaves in red wine vinegar mixed with a dab of olive oil but this garlic mayo sounds delicious.

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eat, little bird 8 November 2011 at 8:04 pm

Hi Patti, it sounds like the vinaigrette is the more usual accompaniment to artichokes, which is what I am used to as well. But the garlic mayo is indeed a delicious alternative :-)

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The Americaine 7 November 2011 at 11:37 pm

I love artichokes. I love mayonnaise. I love garlic. How could this get any better?

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eat, little bird 8 November 2011 at 8:06 pm

Indeed, this is a lovely and simple meal :-)

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manu 9 November 2011 at 8:23 pm

Wow I love this easy recipe!!! Have a great evening

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Julia Levy 10 November 2011 at 2:11 pm

I love this post for the fact that your ‘tv dinner’ was an artichoke compared to the bog standard nuggest n chips most kids get. It reminds me how smoked salmon sandwhiches were perfectly normal in my household and seen with some bemusement by other kids as a posh once a year thing.

Watching Ina Garten lastnight totally unable to grasp what a ‘pork pie’ was (is it pate wrapped in pastry? – er no!) it fascinates me what is normal to one person and culture and country and so very unusual to others.

I’ve yet to eat a whole chokey like this but do like the hearts on salads but sadly only ever jarred ones.

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eat, little bird 11 November 2011 at 6:14 am

LOL! You are very right, Julia. What is standard in one household may seem a bit posh or otherwise to others. Growing up, I think I would have loved nuggets and chips as a TV dinner but it just wasn’t something that we ate at home, much to my disappointment as a child but something I can appreciate and understand now. In any event, I am now making up for lost junk food opportunities from my childhood ;-)

If you like the jarred artichokes, which are often pickled or marinated in a mixture of oil and vinegar, you will probably like artichokes cooked this way. You won’t know until you try :-)

P.S. I’ve also been watching Ina Garten while I’ve been in the US at the moment. I think she’s great but I’ve also heard a few comments about French cuisine which is not quite right … Anyway, some American dishes can be quite baffling too!

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The Food Sage 16 November 2011 at 10:48 am

Mmmm … my friends are growing artichokes @ the community garden. I noticed this recipe in Luke’s book. Next time i’m offered an artichoke from the garden i won’t knock it back.

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ariel 16 August 2012 at 2:15 am

Do you have the recipe for the vinaigrette that you mention?i found your page looking for a way to servethem without mayonnaise.thanks!

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eat, little bird 17 August 2012 at 12:01 am

Hi Ariel,

I make a very simple vinaigrette for all of my salads and which I also serve with artichokes. I don’t really have a recipe as much of it is to taste, but the blueprint is essentially:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon grainy mustard (or Dijon mustard)
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
1 shallot (or half a very small red onion), finely diced
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Simply whisk all of the above ingredients together and taste for seasoning. If you like a sharper vinaigrette, add a bit more vinegar. The shallots and parsley are both optional but I love the texture and colour that they add. As for the choice of vinegar and mustard, use any that you like – after a bit of experimenting with this blueprint, you will find a blend that suits you.

I made a potato salad and a beetroot salad recently using this vinaigrette. You can see the photos on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/eatlittlebird

Hope this helps!

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