Category Archives: Fish

Avoiding Descent of the Crimson Mist

“Making a Hollandaise sauce is really just like making mayonaise with melted butter”. These words of wisdom failed to impress one of my registrars, who to be fair, is trying to cram into his brain the small topics of anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology for the upcoming Emergency primaries.

But it’s true, it really is the same. And the cucumber Hollandaise above was the first thing my dear friend and gastronomic mentor Ferdinand wrote in the recipe book that started this nonsensei n 1993. It really is suited to wild salmon or sea trout in particular, but any fine flavoured and textured fish will be a good partner. Shona had bought some Crimson Snapper and some asparagus.

I’m consistently confused by the seasons up here nearish the equator. Thirty years of UK living tell me what months are associated with a season. Living in ‘normal’ Australia reverses that and then we have five seasons here where the most pleasant one (cool dry) actually mirrors summer in blighty. New season apples the other day really flumoxed me. So the asparagus isn’t quite right, is it???

  • Peel one small cucumber, de-seed and chop into small cubes, 3-4mm. Lightly salt and drain on kitchen paper
  • Meanwhile, melt 100g butter until just too hot to put our finger in
  • Separate one egg yolk into a clean bowl
  • Spoon in a teaspoon or so of butter, leaving the liquid at the bottom (It doesn’t matter if using salted butter as the salt comes out in the water when melted)
  • Whisk with a balloon whisk
  • Keep adding small amounts of butter until it thickens
  • Wash the cucumber in cold water to get rid of excess salt
  • Pat dry in more kitchen paper
  • Add to sauce

Meanwhile I steamed the fillets on foil. When done I added the cooking juices to the Hollandaise to loosen, though some water comes out of the cucumber anyway, so take care. For this reason I don’t add lemon juice to this hollandaise, where I might normally do so.

New potatoes and asparagus, and a rather good Menetou Salon, Loire.

If the sauce splits, swear loudly, throw the sauce across the room and get a take away.

Or, start again, with another yolk, adding your split sauce again, a little at a time, whisking like a dervish.