Hollandaise is a classic partner for asparagus, but it’s also great with salmon, poached eggs, chicken, scallops and as a dip for artichoke petals.
- First make the hollandaise sauce. Using a large balloon whisk, beat the egg yolks with a squeeze of lemon juice and seasoning in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Beat vigorously for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens. (To make sure the sauce doesn’t overheat, take it on and off the heat while you whisk, scraping around the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula.) The aim is to achieve a golden, airy sauce that forms ribbons on the surface when the whisk is lifted.
- Warm the olive oil in a small pan, then set aside. Off the heat, gradually add a little of the warmed olive oil at a time to the egg mix, then return the bowl over a gentle heat to cook a little more. Remove from the heat again and whisk in another dash of warm oil.Repeat until all the oil is incorporated and the sauce has a thick, mayonnaise-like consistency.
- Whisk in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, plus 2–3 tablespoons of warm water to give the mixture a pouring consistency, then add the chopped tarragon.
- Blanch the asparagus by plunging it into boiling salted water for 2–3 minutes until its rawness has been removed but it is still crunchy. Drain well and serve with the hollandaise.