vs. Mason: Battle Skirt Steak
The challenger: Chef Sam Mason, who made a
huge splash in the New York culinary scene with his jaw-dropping confections at
WD50. Nowadays, he has his own kitchen at Tailor in SoHo. Today, he challenges
the OG of the ICs, the silver Tetsujin Masaharu Morimoto.
Gentlemen.... Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Takeshi Omae & Fumihiko Sakaguchi, sous chefs
Ryan Bartlowe & Amador Acosta, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
Outside skirt steak.
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!"
Morimoto starts by taking
one of the two entire cows available to the chefs today.
Mason starts by collecting marrow. This meat is more of
a leveling of the playing field for both chefs, as the
challenger gets to showcase his creativity versus the
Iron Chef's intimidating knifework. Mason has a very hot
marinade on the works while making a new piece of meat
using transglutaminase. Sous-chef Saka is making ground
meat with yams, while Morimoto is prepping cabbage,
stuffing it with ground meat. It's being dropped into an
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed."
Skirt steak has been added to Morimoto's
pressure cooker and to a bacon-onion mixture. Mason has skirt steak in
the oven and julienned potatoes on the side.
- Culinary author Michael Ruhlman ("The Elements of Cooking")
- Actress Kate Flannery ("The Office")
- Culinary critic Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")
Mason is making some high-quality French
fries by blanching his potatoes. Omae is cubing several fruits for a
later application. The IC side has several marinades, as does the
challenger. And the egg yolks that have been steamed on Mason's side...
"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Morimoto
is steaming skirt steak, slicing sugarcane, and cubing tropical fruit. Mason
counters with potato rolls, marinades, and egg noodles. The Iron Chef is
marinating steak in teriyaki sauce and breaking down tomato and tofu. The
challenger is making a marjoram emulsion and pumpernickel croutons. Mason has
cream and skirt steak.
Semi-educational moment: the ingredient on
display today should actually be called "fajita", which means little belt and
refers to its location on the cows' body, around what we would call the waist
between the flank and the plate. Because it is constantly working, it has a lot
of connective tissue, and that means a lot of flavor.
And the ice cream machine is on in the
challengers' kitchen. Today, it's time for skirt steak ice cream.
Morimoto has started plating his skirt-steak
tartare, while both sides are grilling skirt-steak. Omae is making beef and
egg-drop soup. That's getting plated now. Mason has his own tartare in the
"Fifteen minutes to go."
And Sam Mason decides to take a break, or
so he says. Iron Chef has tartare, teriyaki, and steak in a sake broth.
Challenger has tartare, ice cream, and... did we mention ice cream?
Broccoli strips are sauteeing and cauliflower puree is on the heat.
Morimoto has seared skirt steak topped with that sake broth and caviar
and mascarpone over his tartare.
And the glued meat terrine is out on the
challenger's side. Morimoto is working on wasabi for a garnish. And
Mason is working on some chocolate. Challenger also has some
Both sides are now plating, Morimoto his
cabbage number and Mason his bone-marrow custard. Challenger also has
the cocoa beef with chocolate-pea demi-glace. Morimoto has a seared
skirt-steak duo, ginger-rice steak, grilled and steamed steak, ground
beef and cabbage, and tartare. Mason has a tartare, broccoli dish, cocoa
beef, grilled steak, and skirt-steak ice cream with strawberries.
"Five seconds... Three... Two ... One..." And put
it down, walk away, Battle Skirt Steak is in the books.
Judgment (Mason): "I wanted to
highlight different techniques with dealing with skirt steak."
- Skirt Tartare with Marjoram Emulsion
- Beef & Broccoli with Egg Sheets
- Grilled Skirt Steak, with Bone Marrow Creme Brulee
- Cocoa Fried Skirt Steak
- Skirt Steak Ice Cream
Judgment (Morimoto): "Today I
approached the secret ingredient five different ways. I wanted to create
different textures. You'll see most of the dishes will have an Asian influence."
- Skirt Steak Tartare with Sugarcane
- Skirt Steak Duo (Milk-Marinated Skirt Steak and Seared Skirt Steak)
- Ginger Rice with Sake Skirt Steak
- Ground Skirt Steak in Cabbage
- Teriyaki Skirt Steak and Marinated Skirt Steak
We had the Iron Chef serving up very
tender steak, while the challenger decided to be bold and daring with
his steak. But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...
... 53-46 in favor of
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Both chefs were equally as
creative, but it's how the dishes were arranged AND the
flavor that carried the day for the Iron Chef. But
Mason, with his batch of creativity and meat glue, is
given a ticket into a fraternity of chefs who are
waiting for another chance to prove their mettle here in
Until next time... we bid you good eating.
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