Sauce Hollandaise by Michael T

24 09 2008

The name itself seems to originate in the 20th century during World War I when butter production in France came to a halt and was imported from Holland.  Most historians believe that the original name was Sauce Isigny, named after a town in the Normandy area of France where it originated. 

There is reference to a “sauce a la hollandaise” dating back to 1758 but it has no true relationship to modern day Hollandaise Sauce.  It actually contained no egg yolks but was a roux based sauce containing flour, butter, bouillon and herbs.  What we call Hollandaise Sauce today has one of its earliest reference in a cook book by Francois Pierre de La Varenne in 1651 where it isn’t named but seems to be very much in line with today’s version.  To quote “make a sauce with good fresh butter, a little vinegar, salt, and nutmeg, and an egg yolk to bind the sauce; take care that it doesn’t curdle” .  This sauce was made to serve over asparagus much as it is used today.

As with many sauces there is controversy over where it originated and some would claim it was created by the Dutch and brought to France in the 17th century.


Hollandaise can be made with either clarified butter or with raw butter with little or no taste differences.  While this may be contrary to what you are taught in school give raw butter a try sometime.

What is the secret to making an easy hollandaise sauce?  It is the acid and the temperature.  If you have trouble with your sauce breaking here are a few tips that can turn you into an expert with a little practice.  First secret is to always add some acid, I prefer lemon juice but tarragon vinegar works as well while imparting the taste of tarragon, to the beaten egg yolks before even applying the heat.  A second useful tip when using raw butter is to start with butter slightly cooler than room temperature.  If you see your emulsion starting to break the quick addition of a small ice cube may save you the effort of separating more eggs and having to incorporate the broken sauce back into the new yolks.  Even when repairing a sauce utilizing new yolks I would highly recommend adding a small amount of acid to the yolks prior to mixing the broken sauce into it.  You will quickly find the earlier addition of acid makes hollandaise sauce much easier and more stable than other methods.


Hollandaise sauce is versatile and can be modified in many ways to pair with many different meats and vegetables.  Here are just a few related sauces –

sauce aux capres – add drained capers
maltaise – add blood organges
mousseline or chantilly – addition of whipped cream
moutarde – with Dijon mustard




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