Foaming HollandaiseA use for eggses
I simply love hollandaise, which is surprising as I HATE eggs. Now before anyone thinks or starts to coin me a hypocrite, allow me to explain my fickleness towards those little boxes without hinges, key, or lid / Yet golden treasure inside is hid. I will eat anything that contains eggs as long as it doesn’t taste ‘eggy’. Like home-made mayonnaise, hollandaise doesn’t taste like egg it taste of nutty, buttery deliciousness. Quiches, on the other hand, often taste ‘eggy’; the same goes for frittatas, soufflés, and omelettes (no matter how much cheese you cram in).
Now, back to hollandaise and why you should sometimes make foaming hollandaise. The thing is hollandaise doesn’t go very far. And, if you want to make sure it does you end up using A LOT of butter which is (a). fattening, (b). expensive-ish and (c). rather rich. By adding whisked egg whites to your hollandaise – and turning it into foaming hollandaise – you not only bulk it up, but make it much lighter – which works really well with delicate fish. I learnt this trick from a friend who recently went to Belgium. There she had a meal with foaming hollandaise and, being someone who is not afraid to call over the chef, enquired after the sauce. Learning that it is merely the addition of egg whites, she now often chooses to make the foaming one for parties as it goes further, is a lot more stable, and more importantly lighter. Apparently the French (and Belgians ) often make foaming hollandaise when a delicate dish requires a lighter, buttery sauce –who knew?
The foamy texture also makes it seem fancier – people love a bit of foam. However, please don’t think the sauce is insipid or lacking in oomph it is delightfully light in texture but NOT in flavour. I served my foaming hollandaise over a pan-fried fish set on beluga lentils, but it will go just as well over asparagus or even with steak (add a bit of chopped tarragon to make it a bearnaise).
Lastly, a lot of people are nervous to make their own hollandaise, as they are with mayonnaise, but one needn’t be – especially if you use an immersion blender or a small food processor. The speed at which the blades move on either gadget eliminates (mostly) any chance of the sauce splitting. If it should split, pour the split sauce into a jug, add about a tablespoon of hot water to your bowl or food processor and then start to re-whisk/blend in the split mixture (via a slow trickle) – this goes for mayonnaise too.
2 large eggs, separated (keep the egg whites)
1 tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tbls white wine vinegar
3 thin slices of shallot or 1 thin slice red onion
tarragon, fresh or dried (about 6–7 leaves, or 1/2tsp dried)
150 g unsalted butter
salt, to taste
extra lemon juice
Place the egg yolks in a bowl or a small food processor. I prefer to use a deep, small-ish bowl and an immersion (stick) blender, but a small food processor works well too. (If your processor lid has a larger feeding hole, cover it with a piece of cling film to prevent the sauce splashing). You can also use a hand mixer, or even (if you’re up for the challenge), a whisk.
Heat the lemon juice, white wine vinegar, peppercorns, shallot/onion slices, and tarragon in a small saucepan until the mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 minutes to allow the mixture to infuse. Strain, and set aside to cool.
Now pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice mixture in to join the yolks and blend for 30 seconds until thoroughly combined.
Then, using the same saucepan, melt the butter over a gentle heat.
When the butter is foaming and has a slight nutty aroma (don’t allow it to brown too much), switch the processor or blender on once more and pour in the butter in a thin, slow, steady trickle; the slower you add it the better. If there are any brown bits in the bottom of the butter make sure not add it to the egg yolks (either stop just before all the butter is added or strain the butter in the beginning).
(If it helps you to use a jug and not pour from the saucepan, warm a jug with boiling water, discard the boiling water and then pour the butter mixture into that first.)
When all the butter has been incorporated, wipe around the sides of the processor bowl or blender with a spatula to incorporate all the sauce, you should end up with a lovely, smooth, thick, buttery sauce. Check seasoning, add more lemon juice if needed and salt to taste.
To make the Hollandaise into Foaming Hollandaise:
Whisk the remaining 2 egg whites to soft peaks in a large clean mixing bowl and fold into the sauce immediately. Again, check seasoning and add salt or lemon juice to taste. This makes the sauce lighter and it goes further.