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"Morimoto vs. Yeo: Battle Tofu" - September 10

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 be shown.

The Challengers: Patricia Yeo, a recipient of the Star Chefs Rising Star Award. She authored two cookbooks, "Cooking from A to Z" and "Everyday Asian". She blends French and Vietnamese cooking at her Manhattan eatery Sapa. In past ICA battles, she worked as sous-chef to Bobby Flay. Today, she returns to challenge. And she'll challenge the king of borderless Japanese, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

The Crib Sheet:
Ariki Omae & Makoto Okuwa, sous-chefs
Phet Schwader & Gavin Portsmouth, sous-chefs
23 years EXPERIENCE 18 years
Neo-Japanese COOKING STYLE Asian-Fusion
69-12-1, won last battle against Christophe Eme BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: Firm and extra firm tofu, an edge to the Iron Chef, who has fought a tofu battle in the past.

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 wins.

The Ruby Tuesday battle clock is set at 60 minutes, which will start when the Chairman, with full heart and empty stomach, utters the words of his dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"

Tonight's Judges:
Broadway actress Cady Huffman ("The Producers")
Restaurant consultant Barry Wine
Oprah's personal chef/author Art Smith ("Back to the Table")

Semi-educational moment: Coagulated soybean curd, and how to use it. It can be used as a sponge, soaking up the flavors around it, as a custard, enhancing another dish, or just as is on its own.

To make it, all you have to do is dry soybeans, grind them up, steep it in hot water for a bit, add a coagulant, apply weight, and you have tofu. Sounds like cheese making, doesn't it? Well... It is.

Lots of interesting ingredients coming together, as the challenger works several new applications, including a shanton broth. Meanwhile, Morimoto is using new applications not seen in his past tofu battle. Seems like both chefs are having a ball with the ingredient. Let's see what the judges have to say.

Judgment (Morimoto): "When I saw that tofu was the secret ingredient, I wanted to demonstrate how various cooking techniques could enhance the different types of tofu we had available." Dishes: Tofu Trio (Midofu, Shiraae, and Tofu Sashimi), Tofu Chawan Mushi, Tofu & Blue Crab, "Hot Pot" of Fried Tofu, Fried Tofu Rice, Tofu Cake and Ice Cream.

Judgment (Yeo): "Tofu's such a delicate ingredient, and it really has a subtle nutty flavor. As much as we could, we tried to accentuate it. And when we couldn't, we tried to infuse as much flavor as we could." Dishes: Savory Tofu Soufflé, Steamed Tofu and Halibut, Braised Tofu, Stir-Fried Tofu with Black Bean Sauce, Tofu Maple Parfait.

Nothing but good marks for the Iron Chef. Nothing but good marks for the challenger. Both really pushed each other to the end. But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 30 30
Plating 15 12
Originality 14 13

... 59-55 in favor of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. This was the be-all and end-all of Kitchen Stadium battles, as both chefs drew perfect 10s from all three judges for taste, while Morimoto is one point shy of originality.

Until next time, we bid you good eating.

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