Rinse the peppers quickly under running water if they are dusty, dry them with paper towels. Break them open discarding the tops, cores and most of the seeds. Crumble the peppers into a mortar and add the salt. Grind with a pestle to a fine crumb, then add the garlic cloves and continue pounding and stirring until you have a thick paste. Add the saffron threads and work them into the mixture.
Add the egg yolks and continue pounding and stirring until they are thoroughly incorporated, then transfer the pounded ingredients to a small bowl.
Using a measuring cup with a pouring tip, gradually pour the olive oil into the egg mixture, beating constantly, exactly as you would for mayonnaise, adding the oil at first almost drop by drop, then, as it grows thicker, in a thin but steady steam and beating with a small wooden spoon or wire whisk. When you have added half the olive oil, stir in the lemon juice -- this will loosen the sauce, so start adding more olive oil until it has reached the desired thickness of mayonnaise. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, adding a few more drops of lemon juice or the optional hot chilies, if desired.
VARIATION: You can make a lighter sauce in the food processor, using 1 whole egg instead of 2 yolks. Make the flavoring ingredients up to the egg addition but instead of adding the yolks to the sauce, add the whole egg to the processor. Process briefly, just to break up the egg, then, with the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream, adding the lemon juice halfway through as described above. When the sauce has reached the desired consistency, stir in the flavoring ingredients and process with one or two quick spurts. (I don't do the whole thing in the food processor because in my experience, overprocessing garlic will give this and any other sauce an undesirable bitterness.
|... an excerpt of:
"The Essential Mediterranean" (Harper Collins)
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