Dress fresh, wild Alaskan cod — or salmon, halibut, scallops — with a classic side of asparagus and other spring vegetables. Simple and delicious, the kicker is a rich, velvety Hollandaise. There’s nothing easier and more impressive than this version of French mother sauce whipped in a blender. He also gets the approval of chef Julia Child, who claimed that this simplified version “was within reach of an 8-year-old child”. Basically, the lemon and egg yolks become light and airy with the addition of slowly added warm melted butter. Blend the yolks for a full 30 seconds, which warms them up and gives the sauce some body and volume. Melting the butter on a low heat so the water doesn’t evaporate completely helps emulsify the sauce. You’ll want to make the hollandaise just before serving; This will take only few minutes. Hollandaise goes well with fish and asparagus, but also brightens up poached eggs and makes a great dipping sauce for fries and other meats and seafood. You can also customize it by adding roasted garlic or fresh herbs or any other spices you prefer. Cooking the fish and vegetables all together on a baking sheet is a great trick – it helps with prep and cleanup. — Kim Sunea
Primavera Cod Leaf with Dutch Blender
Makes 4 servings
For the cod and the vegetables:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds Alaskan cod fillets
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
2 to 4 green onions
4 to 5 red or multicolored radishes, halved or quartered depending on size
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 slices of lemon
For the Hollandaise in the blender:
Makes about 1 cup
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
5 egg yolks
1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Pinch of cayenne
2 to 3 roasted garlic cloves or 1 minced raw garlic clove
Optional: smoked paprika; fresh basil or thyme; ground turmeric or saffron
• Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pat the cod dry with paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper; put aside. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Trim tough ends from asparagus; use a vegetable peeler, if desired. Trim and cut radishes in half or quarters, depending on size. Spread whole asparagus, radishes and green onions evenly on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, turning the vegetables after five minutes. Remove the mold from the oven. Make room for the cod. Place the cod on a plate and garnish with lemon slices. Drizzle everything with olive oil. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, shaking the pan or stirring the vegetables halfway through cooking, if necessary. Cook until fish is opaque and flakes easily; time varies depending on thickness and degree of doneness desired.
• When the fish and vegetables are almost ready, start the Hollandaise sauce: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat or in a glass/microwaveable measuring cup in the microwave; you don’t want the butter to steam too much because the water in the butter helps emulsify the sauce, so use low heat. Rinse eggs well; separate the whites and yolks; store the blanks in the refrigerator for other purposes. Place the yolks, lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic or other optional ingredients in the bowl of a blender. When the fish and vegetables are ready, remove the pan from the oven and finish the sauce.
• To finish the hollandaise sauce: cover and mix the yolks, lemon, juice, salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and garlic on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds — use a timer or count — so that the yolks are pale and not runny; the blender blades will heat the yolks slightly and give the sauce some lightness and body. If you’re using a saucepan to heat the butter, transfer the melted butter to a measuring cup with a spout so it’s easy to pour. Remove the cap/plug from the blender lid, but leave the lid in place, and with the blender on high, slowly and carefully pour all the hot melted butter through the small opening; mix a few more seconds until the sauce is emulsified. Turn off the blender and taste; add a little more salt, pepper or lemon, if needed. The sauce should be creamy, pale yellow and velvety. Serve immediately with fish and vegetables.
To note: This sauce is best fresh out of the blender, so use it immediately or, if needed, store it in a blender until needed, in a warm place, next to the stove, or add extra hot water in a pot or bowl and place the sauce mixer in the pot.
Raw egg note: This sauce includes uncooked egg yolks, which carries a small risk. Please exercise caution when consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the risk of salmonella or other foodborne illnesses. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly chilled, clean Grade A or AA eggs with intact shells. Immunocompromised people, babies, and other groups may need to avoid this sauce for the reasons given above. If you are unsure of your risk, please consult a trusted physician.