The French like to name sauces after places or people, but it’s debatable whether Holland had a lot to do with this famous topping for asparagus or that New York City classic, eggs Benedict.
The recipe for hollandaise (‘a fragrant sauce’) first appeared in writing in 1651 in French in La Varenne’s classic Le Cuisinier François. A version in Dutch appeared a few years later, so maybe that’s why Holland gets the credit.
The basic recipe asks for beaten yolks combined with butter, lemon juice, salt, and water, which is then heated at a low temperature while being mixed, taking care that the egg emulsifies the sauce and doesn’t curdle.
Hollandaise is often considered one of the five ‘mother sauces’ of French cuisine, except that in most lists it’s actually the sixth. Variations that start with a basic hollandaise include sauce béarnaise and...
sauce bavaroise: hollandaise with cream, horseradish, and thyme
sauce crème fleurette: with crème fraîche
sauce Dijon, sauce moutarde or sauce Girondine: with Dijon mustard
sauce maltaise: with orange zest and blood orange juice
sauce mousseline or sauce chantilly: with whipped cream
sauce au vin blanc: with white wine and fish stock
Image by Mark Miller