StarChefs Studio
Uni Foam Technique

Sabayon Variations Technique
Chef Adam Hoffman of Rover’s – Seattle, WA
May 2009

Those who write-off sabayon as “old fashioned” or “strictly dessert-worthy” should sit down with Adam Hoffman, chef de cuisine at Rover’s in Seattle. A self-described saucier at heart, Hoffman will tell you that his sabayon—a lighter version of a traditional hollandaise—is an incredibly versatile dressing to have on hand at any service.

“I use the word sabayon kind of loosely,” says Hoffman, whose seemingly infinite repertoire of sabayon variations pairs the sauce with a multitude of proteins and vegetables. “When done nicely, sabayon is light and fluffy; it has that pillow-y mouth feel.”

Branching off from the simple hollandaise technique learned by every young chef, Hoffman makes his sabayon by adding a liquid—Champagne, liqueur, wine, etc.—to the whipped egg yolks that form the base of the sauce. The additional liquid breaks up the inherent denseness of a hollandaise while leading to a plethora of modifications.

“You can manipulate it hundreds of ways,” explains Hoffman, who finishes his sabayon with the original hollandaise protocol—slowly drizzling clarified butter into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. When he wants to be creative, Hoffman adds herb-infused oils, stocks, and citrus juices to his sabayon, adapting the sauce to any recipe or flavor profile.  

“Sometimes I’ll cover an oyster with a Champagne sabayon. I’ll add mostly Champagne and oyster liqueur, which is the liquid from an oyster, to the whipped eggs,” Hoffman says. “I’ll mix in the butter, a bit of cream and spoon [the sabayon] over the oyster.” To finish off the dish, Hoffman puts the sabayon-covered oyster under the broiler to give it a “nice, toasty egg flavor.”

And with eggs coming from a farm just one hour down the road from Rover’s, Hoffman knows the importance of using the freshest eggs he can find.

“Try to make sure you get all of your eggs from a farm; farm-fresh eggs have a world of difference in flavor,” Hoffman says. “The yolks have a much more vibrant color and the flavor is ten-fold.”

Step 1: Place a small amount of water in a large pot and bring the water to a simmer. Reserve for double boiler.
Step 2: In a large bowl, add 2 farm-fresh egg yolks and ¼ cup liquid of your choice. Season with salt and white pepper.
Step 3: Place the bowl on top of the pot and whisk the egg yolk mixture constantly until ribbons form.
Step 4: Remove the bowl from the pot and slowly drizzle in 1 cup clarified butter, whisking constantly until incorporated.
Step 5: For extra richness, reduce 1 cup cream by 75% and fold it into the sauce.

Dungeness Crab Salad with Osetra Caviar and Champagne Sabayon
Chef Adam Hoffman of Rover’s – Seattle, WA
Adapted by
May 2009
Yield: 4-6 Servings


Crab Salad:
3 pounds Dungeness crab (1 to 2 depending on size)
2 ounces olive oil
2 ounces rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Freshly ground white pepper

2 egg yolks
3 to 4 ounces Champagne
2 ounces heavy whipping cream
4 ounces unsalted butter
Sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper

To Assemble and Serve:
1 ounce osetra caviar
Fresh arugula

For the Crab Salad:
Cook the crab in heavily salted boiling water for about 3 minutes per pound (live weight). Allow the crab to rest 10 minutes, pick all of the crab meat and chill it.

Mix the olive oil, rice vinegar, chives and pepper together and gently toss with the chilled crab meat. Set aside.

For the Sabayon:
Place a small amount of water in a large pot and place a mixing bowl on top. Bring the water to a simmer. Add the yolks and Champagne to the bowl and whisk until the mixture’s temperature reaches about 140°F. The mixture should froth up and thicken. In two separate pots, reduce the cream by half and melt the butter. Slowly add the melted butter to the yolk mixture while whisking. Once the butter is incorporated, add the reduced cream. Season with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.

To Assemble and Serve:
Place the marinated crab over a bed of arugula. Add the caviar to the sabayon and pour over the crab.


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  Published: May 2009