October 2008

TECHNIQUE: Deep-Fried Béarnaise
Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough of Spur – Seattle, WA

by Heather Sperling

Wylie Dufresne’s deep-fried hollandaise was the inspiration for this technique. The idea is a familiar one: take something classic and recognizable in flavor, and present it in a different texture and form. All well and good, as long as the flavor and execution is there – and when we had this dish at Spur in Seattle, it certainly was.

If you can make a stellar béarnaise, chances are you can make a stellar deep-fried bearnaise; all you need is some alginate and calcium lactate (or perhaps a reverse spherification kit of your very own).

In “reverse spherification,” a mixture blended with calcium is dropped into alginated water (as opposed to an alginated mixture being dropped into a calcium bath). Instead of gelling all the way through, as can happen in a calcium bath, the mixture is encapsulated by a thin rim that holds the liquid inside – and can hold when exposed to heat.

This spherification technique can be used for any dense liquids (McCracken and Tough add xantham gum to their bearnaise for density reasons: to ensure that the ball of sauce is dense enough to drop to the bottom of the water bath, and fully encapsulate). They encapsulated potato soup and called it potato “gnocchi”; in summer they applied it to sweet corn soup, serving soup balls atop a salad of farmers’ market vegetables with nasturtium vinaigrette.

McCracken and Tough fry the béarnaise sphere in the most classic of ways: dust, dip, dredge, fry. They place the balls atop round slices of beef carpaccio drizzled with a tarragon vinegar reduction. The diner is instructed to roll the carpaccio around the sauce nugget and take it in one bite. The ball instantly breaks and oozes sauce and flavor – not thick or dense, but perfectly warm and thin. It’s delicious, tasty, and fun.

Step 1: Incorporate calcium lactate into warm sauce. Blend with immersion blender to emulsify.
Step 2: Combine water and alginate and blend thoroughly.
Step 3: Fill a round teaspoon-measure ¾ of the way with the sauce mixture, and submerge in alginate bath. Invert so capsule frees itself from the spoon. Let rest in the bath for 10 minutes, then rinse in warm water.
Step 4: Dust capsules in flour, dip in egg wash, and roll in breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden-brown, drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve.

Beef Carpaccio with Deep-Fried Béarnaise
Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough of Spur – Seattle, WA
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 4 Servings


    Beef Carpaccio with Deep-Fried Béarnaise by Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough of Spur – Seattle, WA on StarChefs.com
    + Click to enlarge
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • ½ pound butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon calcium lactate
  • ¼ teaspoon xantham gum
  • 1 tablespoon of reduction of tarragon vinegar and shallots
  • Salt and white pepper

    Alginate Bath:
  • 1 liter water
  • 6 grams sodium alginate

    Fried Béarnaise:
  • Béarnaise capsules (from above)
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Ground panko breadcrumbs
  • Oil (for frying)
  • Salt

  • 2 ounces beef tenderloin
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Tarragon vinegar reduction
  • Sea salt and pepper


For the Béarnaise:
Set up a bain marie with boiling water. Combine egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water in a boil, place over boiling water, and whisk rapidly until yolks coagulate. Continue to whisk, while slowly drizzling in melted butter. Once butter is completely emulsified, add calcium lactate and xantham gum to the mixture. Season with salt, white pepper, and tarragon vinegar-shallot reduction (to taste). Remove bowl from above the boiling water, and blend mixture with an immersion blender until smooth and emulsified.

For the Alginate Bath:
Combine water and alginate and blend very well. Place mixture (in bowl) in a vacuum packing machine vacuum until completely clear. This removes all air from the mixture.

For the Béarnaise Capsules:
Place béarnaise sauce in a squeeze bottle. Using a round measuring teaspoon, fill teaspoon ¾ of the way with béarnaise from the squeeze bottle. Submerge the spoon into the alginate bath and invert to drop the mixture from the spoon; it should form a round ball. Allow the balls to rest in the mixture for about 10 minutes (so that a strong skin forms). Remove the béarnaise balls from the alginate bath and rinse in warm water.

For the Fried Béarnaise:
Heat oil to 375ºF. Dust the béarnaise capsules with flour, then dip in whisked egg. Dip in panko, and fry until golden brown (approximately 45 seconds). Remove from fryer, dry on a paper towel, and sprinkle with salt.

For the Beef:
Roll beef in plastic film and continue rolling plastic very tightly until a perfect cylinder is formed. Place in freezer and allow to freeze through.

To Assemble and Serve:
Thinly slice 3-4 slices of beef directly onto serving plate, and dress with olive oil, tarragon vinegar reduction, sea salt, and pepper. Place one ball of fried béarnaise in the center of each, and garnish with microgreens. Serve, instructing diners to to roll one side of the beef round over the ball, to cover, and pop one entire beef-bernaise portion into their mouth.

  Published: October 2008