Lahlou: Battle Redfish
The challenger: Mourad Lahlou, a
rare combatant who does not have a formal culinary education. While
studying economics at San Francisco State, this native of Morocco
realized that cooking from his homeland was his true calling. Today, he
is the owner and executive chef at Aziza in San Francisco. He calls out
the grand dame of Kitchen Stadium, Iron Chef Cat Cora...
Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Ed Cotton & Matthew "Matt" Hudak, sous chefs
James Syhabout & Marty Cattaneo, sous chefs
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 or her dishes wins.
The 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 Redfish is go! Interesting thing about this
fish. Until the 70s and 80s, this was considered a trash
fish until a little guy by the name of Paul Prudhomme
started blackening it. Within 10 years, it was almost
extinct. Now that it's being farmed, it's off the
list... The same cannot be said for THESE specimens.
Redfish is often
recognized by the black spot in the upper part of the
tail base which experts believe evolved there in order
to trick predators into biting the wrong end of the
"Five minutes have
And it's eerily quiet as
the challenger starts on Thumbelina carrots, while
Lahlou starts scoring fish which may be cooked and
Words from the
challenger: "I got all the ideas that I used in my
kitchen from Morocco, and I add new stuff to it from
California. I just try to find a balance between the old
and the new."
And for Cat Cora... Beer
batter can only mean... Fish & Chips. Both sides are
also cooking the fish skins, while the Challenger has
lemon slices, sweet tomatoes, sugar, and brown sugar,
while Cora is countering with macerating fruit. Also on
the IC's boat: a redfish mousse. Challenger has redfish
and lamb's quarters. Cora is countering with basil
seeds, spinach, and porcini mushrooms. Lahlou has sliced
red onion, shellfish, and preserved lemons.
- Food blogger Ed Levine (SeriousEats.com)
- Food editor Antoinette Bruno (StarChefs.com)
- Food writer Trevor Corson ("The Story of Sushi")
And Cora has... liquid
nitrogen. And in it... ketchup potato lozenges. Lahlou
is making a charmoula sauce and black garlic. Cora and
Lahlou are working on redfish whole, redfish mousse,
redfish fins, and redfish skins. To recap, Cora has
candied fins, frozen ketchup pods being deep fried, and
soy milk skins. Lahlou has whole redfish, redfish
mousse, and redfish pieces in an onion-spice mixture.
"Thirty minutes have
Cora has orzo being
cooked in a stock of some type and redfish is being
teriyaki-glazed and baked. Lahlou is cooking morels and
fregula... not necessarily in the same pot. The Iron
Chef's candied watermelon comes out of its vacuform bag.
And both chefs are offering dueling noodles: glass
noodles with harissa for the challenger, and harusame
for the Iron Chef. The fregula on the challenger has to
And if that isn't enough pressure, Cora
is plating. Looks like fish and chips. And with sudachi and a yuzu
beurre blanc on her side, it looks like Cora is playing out of
Morimoto's playbook... again.
Now Lahlou is breaking out phyllo.
"Fifteen minutes to go."
The battle is coming together. Iron Chef has plated two
dished: a fish-skin salad with pickled watermelon and
fish & chips. Challenger is marinating fish, while
squash blossoms are being fried. Cora has also pounded
flat fish, avocado mix, and yuba skin. Mourad has glass
noodles and lamb's quarters have gone on top of phyllo,
and both an herb broth and tomato jam have been plated.
"Ten minutes to go." Cora
is also plating yuzu beurre blanc. Mourad is making a
redfish wrap, while there's steamed fish elsewhere.
Challenger is garnishing fried fish, while Cora is
plating whole fish with the orzo. Challenger is plating
pickled redfish escabeche. Iron Chef also has an
escabeche Japanese style, called a nanban-zuke.
"Five minutes to go." We
have fish on a bed of salt and leaves on a cutting
board. Looks like both chefs will have a wrap, a whole
fish, and an escabeche. Cora is also going to have a
salad and fish & chips.
"One minute to go."
Mourad has beignets and couscous joining his five. But
they have only 10 seconds to fix is dish...
"Five seconds... three...
two... one..." Battle Redfish...
Judgment (Lahlou): "I really just wanted to
use redfish in so many ways and manners to let it shine
on the plate. We're going to take you from the coldest
dish we're going to serve today to the hottest."
- Redfish Scabech
- Redfish Beignets
- Steamed Redfish with Couscous
- Roasted Redfish Charmoula Style
- Redfish Basteeya
Judgment (Cora): "My inspiration was to show
you the versatility of the redfish. And I wanted to take
you on a trip around the world."
- Redfish Skin Salad with Watermelon
- Redfish & Chips
- Citrus-Cured Redfish
- Duo of Redfish (Redfish Sous Vide & Pasta Roll)
- Redfish Nanban Zuke
- Teriyaki Redfish
Cora has the one-dish
advantage, but whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...
... 52-45 in favor of
Challenger Mourad Lahlou. The Iron Chef has put up a
valiant effort, but dish for dish, Lahlou scored a
Until next time... we bid you good eating.