Like a dog, I thought hollandaise would sense the apprehension on me, and not want to cooperate. Good thing this hollandaise was a cat.

We had a demo, then it was our turn to emulsify some magic. I broke my first one right before it was finished. My fault. I added to much butter at once. Patience! Next one, much better. That was last week. I practiced once at home that weekend. Today, we had twenty minutes to make one. A surprise that I aced. And the only one in class that served at temperature! Woo hoo!


2 egg yolks

lemon juice to taste, start with 2 tsp.

6 oz clarified butter, warmed

salt to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring 1-inch of water to a slow simmer.

In a bowl that is safe for use as a double-boiler, whisk (by hand) egg yolks and lemon juice until you reach the ribbon stage. It is what it sounds like. Whisk will make ribbons in egg yolks.

Over barely simmering water, cook the egg yolks while whisking until thickened. Control your temperature by removing from steam. The bottom of the bowl should be just too hot to touch. If you notice the egg cooking on the side of your bowl, check your burner and bowl temperature, and adjust.

Remove bowl from steam. While whisking, add a few drops of warm clarified butter. You are now starting to emulsify. Add a few more drops. Whisk. You will need to put your bowl back on the steam from time to time to keep a consistent temperature. Keep checking this! Your sauce will break if it gets too hot or too cold. It’s a sauce baby. You need to coddle it. You will know when it breaks. It will be a big greasy mess, and you will feel sad.

Continue to add butter slowly until all is added. Add hot water from you saucepan to loosen your sauce if it becomes too thick. (I have always had to do this). Do not over-whisk at this stage. You will be whipping in cool air, which your warm sauce does not want.

Add salt to taste, and more lemon juice if needed.

*Emulsified sauce: an amount of fat (butter or oil) is introduced to a water based liquid

*They can be hot or cold, and the fat is incorporated off the heat to ensure emulsification.

*Hollandaise is a hot emulsified sauce.

*Hollandaise can accompany many fish and vegetables, and of course eggs Benedict.

*Hollandaise is also a foundation for a number of other sauces (mousseline and mustard)

*Hollandaise is one of the five “mother” sauces. Mother sauces are leading or primary sauces.


1 egg yolk

1/4 tsp. vinegar

1/4 tsp. mustard

4-6 oz oil

salt to taste

lemon juice to taste

Whisk all ingredients except oil.

Slowly whisk in oil, creating an emulsion. Mayo will thicken as you whisk. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

*Mayonnaise is also one of the five “mother” sauces.

*Variations include: aioli (basically mayo), tarter sauce, remoulade, and gribiche.

*Herbs, citrus, and other flavorings can be added to make a derivative sauce.

*Mayonnaise is a cold emulsified sauce.

emulsion: a stable liquid mixture in which one liquid is suspended in tiny globules throughout another

lecithin: most common emulsifier, found in eggs and mustard. One end of the lecithin molecule dissolves in fat and the other end of the molecule dissolves in water – bringing the water and fat together.

Culinary school is about learning technique, not recipes. If my recipes seem not exact or not written in a strict sense, this is because I have written with the purpose of getting you to focus on your technique and palate, instead of your measuring spoons and cups. I know it may be hard at first, but soon (very soon), it becomes freeing. I prom promise.