Diner's dictionary Defining unfamiliar menu terms

Sabayon tops shrimp and grits made by chef Jesse Sutton at Social restaurant.

Sabayon (sah-bah-YOHN)

Zabaglione, the Italian name for a whip of egg yolks, sugar and wine, has a fairly specific connotation: It's the dessert custard that arrives after a meal of spaghetti and meatballs or eggplant parmesan, usually in a martini glass with fresh berries on top.

But the French interpretation of the longstanding sauce, close kin to hollandaise, is less restrictive. Often made with Champagne instead of sweet wine, sabayon is used to finish fish, scallops and asparagus, among other savories. “I use the word sabayon kind of loosely,” Seattle chef Adam Hoffman told StarChefs.com. Without regard to the rules of classical cuisine, Hoffman gussies up his sabayons with herb-infused oils, citrus and stocks.

At Social Restaurant + Wine Bar, chef Jesse Sutton takes a similar approach when dressing shrimp. “Like a sabayon, it is a raw product that is whipped over gradual heat until it thickens, and the final texture resembles a sabayon, but frankly, there was a certain amount of artistic license in the menu copy,” Sutton says of his corn sabayon, made with raw corn juice rather than eggs (and thickened by the corn's starches instead of yolks.)

Social Restaurant + Wine Bar (Sauteed shrimp with chorizo ragout, Geechie Boy grits and corn sabayon, $15)

If you're stuck on sabayon, you'll likely have to make it yourself or book a table at a nice restaurant. But if you're willing to settle for zabaglione-flavored gelato, it's available at Paolo's.

Sabayon has appeared aboard the brunch benedict at The Lot, and under its French name on the dessert menu at Vincent Chicco's. It's also been known to pop up at restaurants with French sensibilities, such as FIG.