Bechamel (white sauce) might known as the mother of sauce in western culinary. When you have ability to make really great bechamel, you just few steps from cooking western creamy dish. Have chicken soup? Add bechamel for chicken cream soup. Have macaroni? Add bechamel for mac ‘n cheese. Have lasagna? Add bechamel as sauce for lasagna bolognese. Have potato? Add bechamel for potato au gratin. Have steak? Add bechamel for complimentary sauce.Those just a a few of dish using bechamel.
Basically, steps to cook bechamel consist of 3 steps:
- Making roux
- Adding milk
Just 3 steps which makes this sauce easy-peasy for new people who wanna try to cook by DIY (including me!). My first try was a remarkable moment made me realized that to cook this sauce is bloody tricky.
1. Making roux
Roux is one of the basic thickening agents in the culinary arts. Used primarily for thickening sauces and soups. Roux is made from from equal parts fat and flour. The “equal parts” are measured by weight, not volume.
- Melt some butter over medium high heat
- Add flour all at once with equal amount of flour. Whisking vigorously
- Reduce heat to low and cut back on the whisking. Cook until you smell a toasty aroma then cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
2. Adding milk
Use room temperature milk, preferably warm milk. Cold milk just make the roux clot rather than disolved with milk. Add the milk to roux 1 cup at a time and whisking continously to give roux time and space to dissolve. Bring to a boil. You have to be careful not to overcook since the bechamel you got before and after you turn off the stove might be thickening different. During my experience, pan material significantly affect the ability of roux to dissolved. Teflon still the best so far. Thus, if you don’t proceed smooth bechamel, blend in blender is the best last option. But excessive blend will cause aeration of milk which proceed to froth.
Use your sense of tongue. The result of bechamel is depend of your personal taste. You can use pepper, salt, nutmeg, etc for flavouring.
Nb: all the pictures taken from internet since I was about success making fine enough roux after several trials