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by Pat Mozersky

By Pat Mozersky


 “Dear Pat: I have had Mesón’s grilled salmon with béarnaise sauce on several occasions. Even though I have several recipes for béarnaise sauces, none can compare with the one at Mesón. I would appreciate the recipe used by that terrific restaurant. Thank you. – Sarah Barisano”

Dear Sarah: Of all the major categories of sauces, the family of butter sauces is undoubtedly the one that draws the most raves. Milky smooth and rich, these sauces are steller when paired with seafood, especially salmon or lobster.

Mesón European Dining’s chef/owner, Martin Cuevas, hails from the Dominican Republic but has trained in French cuisine in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he worked at the famed French Reef restaurant. So he well understands the appeal of these classic French sauces, and presents his own version of béarnaise along with meticualously fresh salmon fillets.

Hollandaise sauce is the most delicate of the butter sauces, and béarnaise sauce is prepared in the same manner as hollandaise, but is classically spiked with shallots, wine, vinegar and tarragon. Since Cuevas omits the tarragon, it’s my guess that the pungent flavor of that herb is what you have found offensive. No matter – the chef has gracioulsy shared his recipe.

Although quick to prepare, butter sauces can be deilishly demanding. If care is not taken, they can separate. (We’ve included some tips to save the sauce, just in case.) If the heat is too high, the egg yolks can turn to scrambled eggs. (Have I unnerved you yet?) Just remember – whisk constantly over carefully regulated heat (the double boiler helps), and don’t try to make the sauce too far ahead. Don’t even serve the sauce on heated plates. Enough don’ts! Do enjoy. And for a change of pace, try béarnaise sauce on roast tenderloin of beef.

Grilled Salmon with Béarnaise Sauce Recipe

Béarnaise Sauce:

1 tablespoon chopped shallots (red onion can be substituted)
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
White pepper
Lemon juice, to taste
Few drops Tabasco sauce
2 (6 to 8 ounce) fillets of salmon, with skin
1/2/ cup white zinfandel wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil

To make sauce: In a small pan, sauté shallots until golden brown, remove from heat and set aside.
In the bottom of a double boiler, heat water to a boil. Adjust heat so the water baerly simmers. In top of double boiler (or in a heat-proof bowl), whisk egg yolks with 1 tablespoon water and place over simmering water; continue whisking vigorously until the egg yolks have thickened. Add butter, a little at a time, whisking continuously. (If butter is added too quickly, the sauce can seperate. If this happens, whisk 1 tablespoon of the sauce in a bowl until the mixture is smooth. Then gradually whisk in the remaining seperated sauce.) Season to taste with salt, white pepper, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce. Stir in sautéed shallots.

Remove double boiler from heat, but allow sauce to remain over warm water, whisking frequently, for up to 15 minutes. Sauce should be served warm. if not ready to serve, sauce can be kept warm in a thermos. It should not be reheated once cooled.

Serves 2 generously or 3 comfortably.

To cook salmon:

Place fresh salmon fillets in a non-reactive (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel) pan, pour wine over fish and scatter freshly chopped dill over top. Season with pepper. Let marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Sprinkle with lemon juice, rub with olive oil and seasoon with salt. Heat grill untilvery hot. Place salmon on grill, skin side up and cook on first side until cooked half way through (cooked fish turns opaque). Turn fish and continue cooking until opaque throughout. be careful not to overcook. Serve immediately, accompanied by Béarnaise Sauce.

Makes 2 servings

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