"Feenie vs. Morimoto:
Battle Crab" - February 20
Editor's Note: What follows is a
televised-move-by-televised-move recap. Because a
sixty-minute battle, intro, and judgment has to be
edited into 45 minutes of airtime, not every move will
The Challenger: Rob
Feenie from Vancouver, Canada, a chef who received the
prestigious Roule Gourmand award for excellence. He will
face the high elder, the OG of the Iron Chefs if you
will, Masaharu Morimoto. Surprising, it will not be the
first time the third Iron Chef Japanese has squared off
against a resident of the great white North (that would
be Michael Noble in Battle Lobster). Gentlemen...
prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Troy Thompson & Ariki Omae, sous-chefs
and Marc Andre Choquette, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
live Dungeness and blue crabs, whole and in pieces.
The Rules: Each chef
must create a five-course meal, with each course
utilizing the theme ingredient, within 60 minutes. The
judges will score the dishes on a 20-point scale: 10
points taste, 5 points plating and presentation, 5
points creativity and use of ingredient. The chef who
best articulates the theme ingredient through his dishes
The words of
the Chairman's dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"
The Battle: The
battle begins with Morimoto having a hard time
separating the crab from the theme bin. "Oh my
goodness!" he says. Feenie is in high heaven, as he
wanted to see any type of meat or fish as the theme. As
for Morimoto: "Seafood would be great for me." This
promises to be interesting, as you have a Japanese chef
who follows the global route of cuisine, and a French
chef who uses Asian ingredients.
Dungeness and blue crabs
are being boiled on Feenie's side, and veal loin is out.
More crabs also boiled on Morimoto's side, as he starts
hacking some crabs, as Feenie is roasting his veal.
Morimoto is washing crab shell for maybe a presentation.
Feenie is planning crab panna cotta with pineapple. Sous-chef
Troy is poaching cantaloupe in wine for a dessert to
counter. Blue crab is out on Feenie's side.
Back with the Iron Chef,
his sous-chef Omae is slicing konnyaku, a taro starch
derivative. Morimoto has dough balls rolled meanwhile.
Feenie icing down his meat so as not to overcook the
crab. Morimoto is pureeing crab, but for what, we don't
know yet. "Fifteen minutes have elapsed."
The Judges: Barbara
Fairchild: editor-in-chief: Bon Appetit Magazine. "I
kinda felt that I wasn't on Iron Chef America. I felt
like I was on Survivor."
Victoria Riccardi: author, "Untangling My Chopsticks: A
Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto".
Akiko Katayama: culinary journalist; Food Arts Magazine
Back to Battle:
Feenie's jelly goes to the fridge, while Morimoto's
broth goes down, and Alton praises his multi-tasking.
He'll be making rice with crab broth.
Something I just noticed.
Morimoto is the only IC to cook on the left side of the
kitchen, while the others cook on the right. Why? Don't
Feenie is breaking out
pasta dough, while Wayne has some albacore tuna and nori
out for a roll. Troy is working on a bechamel with
buttermilk to be paired with a croquet, while Mark has
an ice cream maker going, not necessarily for the crab.
Morimoto's melons are out and into the blast freezer.
He's got mushrooms into the crab rice. Feenie has
truffles for a verblanc (something akin to a hollandaise
sauce). "Thirty minutes have elapsed."
Now to today's
semi-educational moment: Dungeness crab is native off
the waters of San Francisco, while blue crab (or rock
crab) is more native to the east coast, where ICA is
There are Japanese marsh
crabs, but they're very small. They're being deep fried,
while Troy is making a lobster/crab croquette breaded in
panko and deep fried. Feenie is now adding honju-miju
mushrooms for saute and crab ravioli for stuffing.
Morimoto has a stuffed dough item of his own, while he's
packing miso and crab with bonito flakes and scallions
onto a wooden spoon. He did this before with natto
against Ohta's Party of Heaven and Earth, so I'm
expecting yet another rice dish. The melons are out
again, and we pour crab consommé.
Crab verblanc is being
prepared on Feenie, maybe for the ravioli. Crab &
konnyaku stuffed into Morimoto's shells. "Twenty minutes
to go." Feenie is at work on a crab and salmon sushi.
Morimoto's spoons are being barbecued. Feenie is the
first to plate with the sushi. Morimoto's crab shells
are meeting the fry pan. Pepper is added. Feenie is
whisking egg yolks, sake, and sake vinegar for a
Morimoto's side is
experiencing some trouble with the ovens. "Ten minutes
to go." The crab rice is finished on Morimoto's side.
Also finished: sablefish with tom yum kun. That's on
Feenie's side. Morimoto's plating the fried crab with
uto. The ravioli is getting two sauces. Croquettes are
done with white truffles. "Five minutes to go." Veal is
sliced and down... and another sauce, a crab
hollandaise. With three on the clock, Troy's looking for
a melon baller for his crab consommé. The crab panna
cotta has not set, so it's "adapt or die." Morimoto has
crab fondue with some fontina ready. Feenie is done with
36 seconds to spare. "He looks cool. He looks happy. He
looks together. HE LOOKS CANADIAN!" Alton says. Morimoto
too is done. Garnishes are done as well.
three... two... one... Time's up" And Battle Crab
is history! Feenie: "I think I lost some weight. We just
wanted to get our dishes done. It'll work." Morimoto: "I
tried to do new things mixed with Japanese tradition." Now
Judgment (Morimoto): "I'm using tricks that I
picked up on my recent trips abroad. Trying new
techniques, but I'm always tying them into Japanese
tradition." Morimoto, a traditionalist? NEVER! Dishes:
crab consommé gelee filled charentais melon, buttermilk
crab croquette, crab fondue with crab naan bread, black
pepper Dungeness crab, crab rice with baked crab miso.
The melon/crab dish is
beautiful as a cross between dessert and crab. The
croquette goes over well. Barbara thinks that the crab
in the fondue can't be tasted. She does like the pepper
fried crab, though. The rice is done in three ways, and
three ways does he garner raves, although Akiko still
can't taste any crab.
Judgment (Feenie): "A lot of the stuff we do at home
is Asian oriented, so we took a couple of Asian hits and
combined them with my French background." Dishes:
duo of crab maki rolls, sablefish and Dungeness crab in
tom yum kun, lump crabmeat ravioli, roasted veal loin
with lump crabmeat hollandaise, peekytoe crab panna
likes the many levels of the sushi. Akiko loves the
contrast, but thought it was hard to eat. Presentation
and taste are rewarded in the soup, but it seemed like
the fish was the central ingredient. The ravioli was
perfect. The veal... well, Barbara didn't appreciate it.
Dessert ends the meat finally found. Harsh words for the
Iron Chef, and praise for the challenger...
And now, whose cuisine
reigns supreme? The verdict....
... 45-39 in favor of
Challenger Rob Feenie. So Canada avenges its loss to
Morimoto from the original Iron Chef, but when Iron
Chefs get knocked down, they get back up... and they get
back up bitter. Until next time... I bid you good