Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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hollandaise one of the most prominent sauces in the group of those which are thickened by the use of egg yolk. escoffier classified it as one of the five ‘mother’ sauces of French cuisine. Hollandaise is a sauce of clarified butter thickened with egg yolks and seasoned with lemon juice.

McGee (2004) has investigated both the history and the chemistry of the sauce. He reports that there is an antecedent, called ‘fragrant’ sauce, in la varenne’s Cuisinier françois of 1651 but hollandaise so-called does not emerge until the later 18th century. Fish cooked ‘Dutch style’, for example, a pike listed in John Nott’s Cooks Dictionary of 1726, is often served with melted butter. McGee observes that the use of egg yolk in hollandaise is not essential in order to produce the desired emulsification; this could be achieved by the butter, unaided. He also explains that if egg yolks are used, it is by no means necessary to use the quantities found in most recipes; that there are disadvantages in using the traditional technique of cooking the yolks as a first step; and that on balance it is better to leave the cooking stage until after the butter has been added to (merely warmed) yolks.