Sunday, July 26, 2015

Poached Salmon with Tomato Béarnaise Sauce

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, we are celebrating the five French Mother Sauces (Sauce Bechamel, Sauce Espagnole, Sauce Veloute, Sauce Hollandaise, and Sauce Tomate); the basic French sauces that most other sauces come from. Since we were to make a mother sauce or one of its children--a sauce derived from one of the five, I opened up my copy of Essential Pepin and went straight to the Basics chapter. Hollandaise sauce is one of my favorites, especially on top of Eggs Benedict, so I thought that I would start there. One of its most popular child or small sauces is Béarnaise Sauce with white wine vinegar and tarragon. Jacques had a Tomato-Flavored Béarnaise listed that immediately caught my eye. 

So if the Tomato Béarnaise Sauce is a variation of a child sauce, I suppose that makes it Hollandaise's grandchild?! In any case, this multi-generational sauce was destined for piece of poached fish. In keeping all things Pépin, I used his poached salmon recipe from the same book. And, because I am lazy and the days have been hot and humid, I chose to make Chef Pépin's Blender Hollandaise instead of lingering over a double-boiler and a whisk.  
Jacques Pepin Technique for Poached Salmon 
Adapted from Essential Pepin 

Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil in a large stainless steel saucepan. Add the salmon to the pan and bring the water back to a boil over high heat. Immediately turn off the heat and let the salmon steep in the liquid for 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly underdone in the center at the point; adjust the cooking time to accommodate thicker or thinner fillets and your personal preference.

Remove fillets from the liquid with a large spatula or skimmer, drain them well, and place on warm plates. Sponge up any liquid that collects around the fillets with paper towels, then spoon the sauce over and around the fillets and serve.


The sauces: 

Jacques says, "Blender hollandaise is a cinch to make (20 to 30 seconds from start to finish) and is very good, although not so delicate and light as classic hollandaise; it has a firmer, tighter texture. The butter must be hot enough to cook the yolks. If you cook the butter until brown, the hollandaise sauce becomes a hazelnut sauce, so-called for its nutty taste." 

Blender Hollandaise 
Adapted from Essential Pepin 
(Makes about 1 ½ cups)

3/4 lb (3 sticks) of unsalted butter
4 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper 
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and heat until bubbling but not brown. Put the yolks, water, salt, pepper, cayenne to taste and lemon juice in a blender, cover, and turn the blender to high. Immediately, with the blender running, add the hot butter in a steady stream. Serve warm.

Béarnaise Sauce: 
Combine 2 tablespoons dry white wine, 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar, (I used white wine vinegar and added 1 tablespoon of finely minced fresh tarragon to the pan) and 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until all but about a tablespoon of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool, then stir into the hollandaise, along with 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh tarragon and parsley. 

Tomato-Flavored Béarnaise:
Peel and seed 1 ripe tomato, then coarsely chop it. Melt 2 or 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small skillet. Add the tomato and sauté for 3 minutes over medium heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon tomato paste and bring to a boil. Mash well and let cool, then mix into the Béarnaise sauce.

My Tomato Béarnaise Sauce:
Since I was making the Blender Hollandiase and thought it best to add it last, I made the Béarnaise Sauce up to the point of adding the Hollandaise, and then in the same pan, added the ingredients for the Tomato-Flavored Béarnaise and followed the cooking instructions. While the sauce cooled, I made the Blender Hollandiase and once it was finished, I stirred my cooled Tomato Béarnaise into it, along with the chopped fresh tarragon and parsley and served it warm over the poached fish.

Notes/Results: By making the hollandaise in the blender (I made about third of the recipe amount) and combining the other sauces into one pan, I probably violated all the basic laws of French sauce preparation, but it certainly came together quickly and deliciously on a hot evening so I have no regrets. ;-) The sauce was rich, silky, buttery with the bright acidity from the tomato and vinegar keeping it from being cloying over the rich salmon. Poaching the (King) salmon resulted in very tender, moist fish which was perfect to compliment the flavorful sauce. Since the sauce and salmon are both heavy, I dressed some sliced baby romaine and cherry tomatoes with a touch of lemon juice and served the salmon and sauce over it. The sauce acted as a dressing for the salad as well as the fish and lightened things up slightly. Although it took a couple of burners and a blender to make, the time in the kitchen was pretty minimal for such a great dish--always a bonus in my book. I will happily make the sauces, the poached fish, and this entire dish again.

You can see what sauces everyone made and how they used them by checking out the picture links of The Mother of All Sauces! post at IHCC.



  1. Your sauce for the salmon looks very inviting. Amazing how a sauce can change the entire taste. Looks delicious

  2. This looks soooo good! That generous slab of salmon is so inviting. Plus the sauce. Delicious! :)

  3. Tomato bearnaise sounds so good! Sometimes I pull back from making bearnaise because I can't bring myself to admit I basically want to dunk steak in butter. Adding tomato would help me get around that!

  4. Any sauce that can be made is a blender, is a sauce I like the sound of!

  5. This sauce has all the wonderful flavors and texture: creaminess of the butter, freshness of the herb and the tartness of the seasonal tomatoes. It will elevate any dish. Thanks for bring it to us!

  6. I'm pretty certain I could eat that tomato bearnaise over anything! It looks truly incredible. I've been such a lazy cook lately and I just couldn't bring myself to be bothered with a hollandaise, much less a bearnaise, and then tomato at that. Hats off to you :)

    By the way, I think that is the most incredible piece of salmon I've ever seen. I really wish we had great fish and seafood available here. The pieces I buy never look that nice.

  7. Yum! Salmon. And cannot wait to try this easy, perfect hollandaise.


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