Jul 5 2012
The first time I attempted to make Hollandaise sauce ended in disaster. It was too watery from my recollection and tasted more or less awful. The recipe even called for water as if to mock the lack of viscosity in my attempt. I cannot remember why I wanted to make it and though I would gladly commit treason for an eggs benedict in a heartbeat, I had never tried to make eggs benedict myself.
I was charged with baking salmon again, but instead of my usual approach of throwing together everything in the pantry—usually soy sauce, pepper, and some sort of sweetener; often maple syrup or jam—I decided to be a bit more conservative this time. It was not that my previous baked salmon fillets were failures, if anything, most people were surprised at how palatable blueberry jam and soy sauce can be on fish (salmon is one of those hard things to fuck up), but I merely wanted more fish flavour and less whatever marinate I drowned the thing in.
So instead, I just baked the fish with nothing more than a bit of salt, pepper, lemon juice, and rosemary (or whatever that green stuff was I found in the cabinet). Seeing how butter makes everything better, I decided to attempt a Hollandaise sauce again.
Hollandaise sauce is a dreadful thing for those not accustomed to the kitchen. Years of living as a student with an ample supply of cheap food around had severely atrophied my culinary skills. The idea of watery substances (egg yolks, lemon juice, and melted butter) becoming a creamy substance was the stuff of alchemy to me. The instructions were to beat the yolks with salt and lemon juice until they doubled (I beat those yolks like they owed me money and they were still thin and fluid), then place them in a bowl over simmering water (which should simmer, but not boil—another variable to fuck up), and continuously beat them while folding in the butter.
By some miracle, it worked this time. It was thick! It was creamy! It was so thick I had to add water! Unfortunately, it ended up being way too buttery and lemony, as I was deviating from the recipe and using my own proportions (more out of laziness in measurements and insecurities in not having enough than sheer bravado). However, it did work, it did thicken, and I have conquered the Hollandaise sauce. Now I’ll have to find something else to tell job interviewers when they ask me what my weaknesses are.
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