Following a brief excursion into mayonnaise making the other week, it got me thinking about egg based sauces. For some reason or another, I had never tasted hollandaise sauce. This would have stemmed from the days when I had to make hollandaise on a regular basis at the pancake restaurant that I worked at - and although it always turned out fine for me - it had kind of put me off with the amount of butter it contained; not to mention the fact that by the end of the day it had turned into a split, coagulated mess.
In effect, hollandaise is a butter sauce brought together with an egg yolk and seasoned. Egg yolk, so I've learnt from Harold McGee himself, is a natural emulsifier and when combined with fat, starts to thicken. The reason that hollandaise is a warm sauce is simple - butter melts when hot.
The hollandaise I made yesterday morning, to adorn my poached egg and muffin, turned out airy and soft with just the right seasoning. Based on Olive's "How to make dead, good hollandaise" from the January issue, the only thing I had to change was the lemon juice, which I used lime juice instead. I am no longer disgusted by hollandaise, and when it's appropriate, I will be making it just like this.
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
Dash of water
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar, or other flavoured white vinegar like tarragon
125g butter, melted
Half a juice of lime
Shake of paprika
Melt the butter over medium heat and try not mix the clear liquid with the white liquid. Whisk together the yolk, water, vinegar and salt in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and when it starts to thicken start adding the clear butter liquids very slowly. Once all the butter is incorporated continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken. If it thickens too much add a splash of water to loosen it up. Whisk in the lime juice and paprika.