Hollandaise sauce is considered by some historians to have originated in the Netherlands. A recipe for Hollandaise sauce was found in a Dutch cookbook dating back to the 16th century. In the 19th century, Mrs. Beaton’s Book of Household Management, 1st edition, refers to a ‘Dutch sauce’, which is, in essence the same as Hollandaise sauce. Even the name links it to Holland.
Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk, water and butter – three ingredients that do not readily mix – with the addition of some lemon juice, a pinch of salt and an optional dash of white or cayenne pepper.
The emulsion is achieved by prolonged whisking of first the yolks with a little water and lemon juice, and then the slow addition of melted or soft butter – over hot, not boiling, water.
This yellow sauce is satin-smooth and buttery with a subtle tang. It pairs well with vegetables, especially fresh green asparagus and broccoli, eggs, fish and even meat.
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, melted
- pinch of salt
- white or cayenne pepper
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice, optional
- Place a bowl over a saucepan of water, heat to boiling point and then turn off the heat. The bowl must not be in contact with the water.
- Put the lemon juice, cold water and yolks into the bowl and whisk until the yolks thicken slightly.
- Gradually add the heated butter while whisking, to create the emulsion.
- Whisk until the mixture thickens – coats the back of a metal spoon.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice and keep warm over hot water until ready to serve.
Should the mixture curdle at any stage, whisk in 1-2 tablespoons of cold water to rebind the emulsion.