Classic Sauce Normande

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • yield:

    1 quart

Appears in

Sauces

By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

A classic sauce Normande is based on fish velouté to which mushroom cooking liquid, mussel cooking liquid, and additional fish stock are added, giving the sauce deeper flavor and more complex character. The sauce is finished with heavy cream (in the manner of Sauce Suprême), lemon juice, and egg yolks (in the manner of Sauce Allemande). Classic recipes call for reducing the sauce after the addition of the egg yolks (the idea being that the egg yolks are stabilized by the flour), but this is risky, as the yolks may curdle. A more reliable system is to complete reduction before adding the egg yolks, then gently cook the sauce—without boiling—just long enough for the egg yolks to contribute their characteristic satiny texture.

Ingredients

fish velouté, classic or modern, (Classic Fish Velouté or modern Fish Velouté) 3 cups 750 ml
mushroom cooking liquid (see Mushroom Essence) or Mushroom Essence ½ cup or 2 tbsp 125 ml or 30 ml
mussel cooking liquid ½ cup 125 ml
fish stock 1 cup 250 ml
heavy cream cups 375 ml
egg yolks 5 5
lemon juice 2 tbsp 30 ml
butter 4 oz 125 g
salt and pepper to taste to taste

Method

  1. Combine the fish velouté, mushroom cooking liquid or essence, mussel cooking liquid, fish stock, and cream in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Reduce the sauce by about one-third over medium to high heat, until it takes on the desired consistency of the finished sauce. (This is to ensure that no further reduction will be required once the egg yolks are incorporated; the sauce can always easily be thinned.)
  3. Whisk 1 cup (250 milliliters) of the hot sauce into the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl. Stir this mixture into the rest of the sauce off the heat. Heat the sauce over low to medium heat, while stirring, until it thickens slightly and becomes satiny. Do not allow it to boil.
  4. Stir the lemon juice and butter into the sauce and strain through a fine chinois. Season with salt and pepper.

Variations of Sauce Normande

Although classic sauce Normande is rarely prepared in restaurants today, many contemporary fish sauces contain similar elements. Nouvelle cuisine fish sauces are normally based on fish velouté that has been thickened with reduced cream and/or finished with butter. Modern fish sauces contain no flour and use considerably less of the three classic rich liaisons—cream, butter, and egg yolks.

Some contemporary Normande-style sauces contain only a few of the traditional flavor elements. Mussel or clam cooking liquid finished with a small amount of heavy cream is in itself an excellent sauce, as is mushroom cooking liquid, especially if made with morels or other wild mushrooms.

When preparing a nouvelle cuisine sauce Normande, it is important to decide how the completed dish will be presented. If a thick sauce is needed to coat the fish or fish fillets, the basic flavor elements (fish stock, mussel cooking liquid, and mushroom cooking liquid) will have to be reduced until they are almost dry, and a relatively large amount of cream, butter, or some combination will be required to give the sauce the necessary consistency. Egg yolks, which are also rich, are sometimes but not always used as a final thickener. A fish sauce made in this way will have a smoother, more unctuous consistency than a traditional sauce Normande but will be extremely rich because its consistency is derived almost entirely from fats. A less dense sauce will require far less cream or butter and very little, if any, reduction.