45 ml white wine vinegar
15 ml water (plus extra, in case)
6 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 large Nulaid egg yolks
approximately 325 ml warm, melted butter
a little lemon juice
ground white or black pepper
pinch paprika or cayenne pepper (optional)
Over high heat, cook the vinegar and water with the peppercorns and bay leaf in a small pan until reduced to 20 ml. Set aside to cool.
In a separate bowl, cream the egg yolks with 30 ml of butter and a pinch of salt. Strain the vinegar into the eggs, and set the bowl over a pan of boiling water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Now turn off the heat. Whisk the egg mixture until it appears double in volume and fall in ribbons from the whisk. Remove the mixing bowl from the simmering water and place it on a folded kitchen towel.
Gradually add spoonsful of the warm butter into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a few drops of water to thin the mixture enough to whisk in all (or most of) the butter. And if the sauce splits or scrambles, add a spoonful of tepid water and whisk furiously. Normally, the split or scrambled sauce will return to a smooth consistency.
When you are happy with the consistency, season the sauce with lemon juice, salt, pepper and some paprika or cayenne, if using, and serve immediately.
Yields approximately 400 ml sauce