"Morimoto vs. Hopkins:
Battle Sablefish" - April 8
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
Linton Hopkins, once an anthropology major at Emory and
headed to a career in medicine, now heads the kitchen at
Eugene in Atlanta, producing local Southern cuisine. He
earned his ticket to KSA through a sanctioned event in
the ATL. And today, he goes against the OG of the ICs,
the White Tetsujin, Masaharu Morimoto.
Prepare for battle...
The Crib Sheet:
Ariki Omae & Makoto Okuwa, sous-chefs
David Bies & Bruce Wieszala, sous-chefs
71-12-1, lost last battle
against Homaro Cantu
The Theme Ingredient:
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 that
best articulates the theme ingredient through his dishes
The Kia 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!" And Battle
Goat is on!
About the ingredient: Sablefish is usually sold to
restaurants as black cod. This particular fish is
heads-off already. They call it sablefish because of its
small scales giving it a furry texture.
Makoto is using Parmesan
cheese for something, while Hopkins is using Kasu.
Morimoto has brought his bonito shaver. For what, we
don't know. Both sides are breaking down aromatics.
Hopkins is also cutting up a beautiful piece of
Finchville ham, a country ham from Kentucky. Both sides
also have sushi rice. Morimoto is smoking Michocan
charcoal. He likes the flavor. Hopkins on the other hand
is smoking applewood.
Bruce renders fat, while
Morimoto shave skipjack tuna. Challenger, on the other
hand, has prepackaged bonito. Hopkins is using one of
his trademarks, dried corn, while Morimoto takes an
early check. Everything looks good.
"Fifteen minutes have
elapsed." Morimoto breaks out the flame thrower to
caramelize the surface of his fish before he boils it.
Hopkins moves his kasu to a hotel pan, while his parsley
is pureeing. Morimoto has buckwheat out, and while he
figures out what to do with it, we go to the judges'
Tony-award winning actress Cady Huffman ("The Nanny
Associate professor at Yale Michael Auslin
Culinary journalist/food advisor for the Japanese
government Akiko Katayama
Morimoto is working on an
aromatic mixture with sablefish whose skin was left on.
He also uses his blowtorch to caramelize some firm tofu
while Hopkins's sous-chef pounds fish for carpaccio.
Makoto is curing his fish while Morimoto employs the use
of one whole bottle of sake.
Hopkins is deep-frying
cipolini onions while Hopkins is making a sachet out of
cheesecloth. I think some cream, onions, dried ham, and
fingerling potatoes are going into that. The Iron Chef
strains some konbu broth while working with Parmesan
rind. David is working wiht duck fat for his potato
mixture. Challenger is working on bruscetta, while
Morimoto is making a pastry of some sort. Ham and fish
are getting wrapped with the challenger (and maybe a
confit as well), while Morimoto is working on fish
bones, filets with sake/soy sayce, and a smoke pit.
Hopkins also has some
molasses as well. Why? Dunno. Morimoto is working with
parmesan rind broth, perhaps reducing it. Morimoto is
cooking his tofu and burdock root. And he's also flaming
applewood as well. That goes with the other smokings...
and that's all in ice, so his sablefish cure is going to
Challenger has a mushroom
and fish confit, while the Iron Chef is sauteeing sushi
rice for risotto. And look... fried fish... cut bread.
Morimoto is making a fish fillet sandwich. With 15 to
go, Hopkins has pan-friend his ham-wrapped item, and
some more fried pieces marinated in the kasu. Challenger
also has sesame seeds in his sushi rice. And what is he
going to pair the creme-fraiche with?
Hopkins is making a fish
confit and a beurre blanc sauce. Morimoto is working a
sandwich and a cheesy fish soup. Omae is working on a
salad, while Makoto is toasting some break.
Hopkins has started to plate
with a chowder. Makoto is working on a risotto while
it's being blanched. Hopkins is making sushi-rice
quenelles. Looks like the IC side is pan-frying
vegetables while Morimoto is plating his teriyaki
"Five minutes to go."
Hopkins has rendered ham fat gastrique with creamed corn
and fried fish. Morimoto has his grilled chile fish down
and his soup. Hopkins is plating mushrooms, taking his
time, not being too fussy. We have a fennel salas.
Morimoto's risotto... is good. It's rice & buckwheat
risotto. Hopkins is working a gremolata. His sous-chef
is still reducing that sauce. Morimoto has shaved white
truffle on the risotto, while his sandwich is down. All
of his plates are done, the grilled, the simmered, the
souped, the risotto, and the sandwich. Hopkins...
confit, carpaccio, chowder, marinated, and wrapped. He's
got five. Now it's all to making it pretty-like with
seconds to go...
Now to the count.
"Three... two... one...." Done. Put it down, walk away,
Battle Sablefish is history. Let's judge...
Judgment (Hopkins): "I love sablefish and how
versatile they are, so we so we wanted to show multiple
preparation, from raw to smoked to confit, different
styles." Dishes: Sablefish Carpaccio, Smoked
Sablefish Chowder, Kasu-Marinated Sablefish, Ham-Wrapped
Sablefish, Sablefish Confit.
Judgment (Morimoto): "I cook with sablefish
very often. Today I had the challenge of coming up with
new things." Dishes: Parmigiano Sablefish Soup, Fillet
of Fish Sandwich, Risotto with Sablefish Confit, Spicy
Grilled Sablefish, Sablefish Simmered in Sweet Soy
the way the flavors mingle in the challenger's dishes.
Akiko notes that some of his dishes are a bit oily (if
you're playing the ICA drinking game at home, take two
drinks). The Iron Chef's dishes are definitely unique in
some way. Andrew thinks his dishes are very
complex, while Cady likes the lightness of it.
But whose cuisine reigns
supreme? The verdict...
... 45-40 in favor of
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Plating and originality
were a dead heat, but it was taste where the Tetsujin
made his mark of victory. As for Linton Hopkins? We may
see him yet again...
Until next time, we bid you