Cooking Techniques: Hollandaise Sauce

Tue, Jun 22, 2010

Cooking, Techniques

You’ve seen it spooned on top of poached eggs or over asparagus. It looks like a very light colored melted cheese sauce, but what it really is, however, is the infamous hollandaise sauce! This sauce is one that is fairly intimidating because not only is it French, but how can anything taste so incredible be easy to make?

If done properly, this sauce is smooth, creamy and buttery. It does however require quite a bit of attention while being made in order to not scramble the egg yolks that go into it!

The equipment required is basic items such as a sauce pan, a whisk and a strainer/sieve . In order to control the temperature that the sauce receives, a large heat proof bowl that can sit in the sauce pan without touching the water inside is suggested but not necessary.

As for ingredients, you’ll need per person:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • A bit of clarified butter or whole butter
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch salt and pepper

Keep in mind that when deciding what type of butter to use, that clarified butter will create a thicker sauce like mayonnaise while whole butter, which has water still in it, will create a thinner hollandaise sauce.

Place egg yolk either in a bowl or in a sauce pan with cold water and whisk together very well. If using a bowl on top of the sauce pan, make sure it has an inch or so of water and is heated to medium. Place the bowl over the top, continuing to whisk at a rapid pace.

Continuously whisk the egg mixture for about 45 seconds. The eggs will become “fuller” and frothy.  If it seems that the heat is too much for the eggs, remember the faster you whisk the more the sauce will cool and using a bowl allows you the option to remove it from the heat as you whisk.

Once the eggs start to loose their volume just slightly and you see streaks at the bottom of the pan, remove it from the heat. If there are yellow streaks of yolk, you still have raw egg in the mix and need to continue heating.  If you do not whisk constantly, you run the risk (very high risk) of the egg yolks turning into scrambled eggs. If there are small lumps on the side from where it heated too quickly, this is alright, as you will be straining the sauce before serving.

Continue to whisk as the sauce is removed from the heat for a bit more to help cool it down a bit and keep the sauce from curdling. Whisk in the butter. Do this a little at a time so as not to add too much. You can always add more, but cannot remove it!

To finish off your sauce add in lemon juice and salt and pepper. Be careful not to add too much seasoning, make sure to taste it before you add more. Strain through a sieve to make sure there are no lumps in your sauce.

This goes great on top of artichokes, asparagus,  eggs, some seafood like crab and it’s a good to add a little bit to bitter vegetables to make them more palatable!

Here is a video showing how to make hollandaise sauce from beginning to end.

Photo by little blue hen
Video By TheSeasonedCook

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This post was written by:

Rochelle - who has written 324 posts on Made in Kitchen Blog.

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