Hollandaise Sauce: The Queen Of French Mother Sauces

Hollandaise sauce may — as its name suggests — have been invented in the Netherlands and taken from there to France. One of the theories about this is that it got to France from the Netherlands via the Huguenots. The evidence for this includes Dutch recipes for it that date back to the late 16th century. Subsequent French cookbooks describe recipes similar to it.

La Varenne’s seminal cookbook from 1651 was called The French Cook and in it, a sauce very similar to Hollandaise sauce is described. Some versions were a closer match to the Dutch one than others. For example, not all included egg yolks.

The first French recipe to feature egg yolks and butter wouldn’t show up until the 1800s. Some sources state that this version of the sauce was first called Sauce Isigny after a town in Normandy known for its butter. There appears to be no record of what caused the name to change from Sauce Isigny to Hollandaise sauce. One theory is that the name was changed because World War I brought Normandy’s butter production to a halt, and the sauce was being made with Dutch butter instead. Other evidence indicates that the Hollandaise name was in use long before the 20th century.

One alternative story of Hollandaise sauce’s origin is that it was an imitation of a sauce made for the King of the Netherlands on a visit to France.

The first edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management contains a recipe for Hollandaise sauce referred to as Dutch sauce. The Dutch sauce name was the most common one used until the 20th century when Hollandaise sauce replaced it.

Hollandaise sauce is one of the five famed French mother sauces. Over the years, its reputation has taken on a legendary aspect. For professional chefs, it is considered one of the most important in part because of how difficult it is to make. The ability to make Hollandaise sauce has widely been considered one of the key tests of a cook’s skill when it comes to European-style cookery. The difficulty comes from the fact that the eggs it contains tend to solidify if heated incorrectly.

Hollandaise sauce flavor profile

When it is properly made, Hollandaise sauce has a smooth and creamy consistency. It should also have a richness to go with its lemony and buttery notes but the most important element of the sauce is its consistency.

Health benefits of Hollandaise sauce

Because of the egg yolks and butter it contains, hollandaise sauce is a pretty good source of some important nutrients, including:

  • Vitamins: Both egg yolks and butter contain vitamin A. You will also get some B vitamins as well as vitamins E and K from Hollandaise sauce.
  • Minerals: Hollandaise sauce contains beneficial minerals like calcium as well as phosphorus and potassium.

Hollandaise sauce in your diet may treat or prevent:

  • Osteoporosis: Some minerals in Hollandaise sauce are important for maintaining bone density.
  • Poor eye health: The vitamin A in Hollandaise sauce may help to prevent age-related loss of vision.

Health concerns

Two of the main ingredients in Hollandaise sauce — butter and egg yolks — are notorious for their high saturated fat content. Saturated fats are associated with high levels of bad cholesterol also known as LDL cholesterol.

Common uses

Hollandaise sauce can be used as a topping for seafood and grilled meats as well as for vegetables like asparagus. It is best known as the sauce component for eggs Benedict.