Morimoto vs. Zakarian: Battle Sardines
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, a frequenter on the panel of the
sister series "Chopped". His skills were sharpened in
many a kitchen in New York including the 21 Club and the
44 Restaurant. Today, he heads the kitchen at the Lamb's
Club. Today, he decides to go for the perfect 60
against... Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.
Ladies... Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Jamison Blankenship & Ariki Omae, sous-chefs
Paul Corsentino & Ryan Grant, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient: Fresh-farmed
Pacific sardines as well as canned from Portugal
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 wins.
The battle clock is set at 60 minutes, which will start
when the Chairman, with full heart, empty stomach, and
apparently his dancing shoes on,
utters the words of his dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"
And Battle Sardines is on! Sardines
represent herring, sprat, and a lot of other different fish that have
small bodies, oily flesh, and a high fat content. the oiliness can vary
from each fish.
Morimoto is starting with a quick cure
from a sardine from sea salt. They don't want to do too much with the
ingredient. You don't really have to. We may not see a lot of fish
cooking until the tail end of the battle. Zakarian is blending tomatoes
and other vegetables for something, while both chefs are removing the
pin bones of the fish. Jamison's concasse tomatoes are in a Dutch oven,
while Ryan is straining olives. Looks like Zakarian is gravitating
toward that end of the spectrum. Morimoto is breaking out shirasu, baby
sardines, and some sticky yam.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Over the
break, the breakdown continues. Morimoto has mountain yams as a binder
and Mexican peppers for another application. Zakarian has coconut water,
country bread, and a lemongrass mixture.
- Restaurateur Donatella Arpaia ("The Next Iron Chef")
- Food critic Danyelle Freeman
- Sustainable food expert Anya Fernald ("The Next Iron Chef")
Omae has golden chives, while Jamison is
mixing red yuzu kosho into olive oil. Morimoto has filets into vacuum
bag with the yuzu kosho and sudachi, a Japanese citrus. Lots of acidity
there. And he's doing a cold marinade on a fish with lime juice and
kombu kelp. Two different methods. Zakarian has a lot of cucumber. He's
also playing an inverted escabeche. Which is really just a marinade in
tomato. Silly Geoffrey.
The challenger is cooking up some Veal
Tonnato. Also we have a saberage on a prosecco... and an oops... with
the bread from earlier. Dueling food pros with Omae's sardine/mountain
yam/eggwhite mix versus Zakarian's canned sardines and creme fraiche.
"Thirty minutes have elapsed."
At the half, the Iron Chef has poached sardines and rice noodles.
Challenger has an escabeche, a tapenade, and a veal cooking. Morimoto is
working on a pine-smoked sardine. Paul now has a brioche for a wrapper
of sorts. Back to the gazpacho mixture, Zakarian is going to work on
that, while Morimoto is finishing his smoke and another dish with the
Mexican peppers. AND iwashi tatami, dried sheets of baby sardines.
"Twenty minutes to go." Beignet
versus iwashi tatami... Chanterelle versus shiitake. Brioche versus
Japanese white bread. Both chefs know that overcooking is going to kill
them. Morimoto is well controlled in that aspect. The iwashi tatami is
out of the fryer and shaped.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Morimoto has
gruyere cheese on his sardine sandwich, a hot-and-sour broth is coming
together, and more sashimi slices. Gazpacho is plated, veal is sliced,
and cherry veal is in the works on the Challenger Kitchen.
Morimoto is playing with presentation.
He's known for that, while Zakarian is toasting the bread and fish at
the same time. The tatami is being made into a "ta-taco". Zakarian is
plating his vitello tonnato. The fish/bread goes on top of succotash.
That's two for them.
"Five minutes to go."
Morimoto's sardine pizza, sardine sushi, and tatami taco. Jamison plates
fried peppers. And we may have an issue in the Iron Chef kitchen...
never mind, we found Jamison's lost fish. At two minutes, Zakarian has
the grill, the sardine and veal. Morimoto has fishballs and broth, sushi
and tatami taco, poached sardine, a shabu-shabu, and the pizza.
Challenger is a little overwhelmed. The lecithin foam is going on his
grill... and this is going to come to the end...
"Five seconds... Three ... two... one...
" Battle Sardine is history.
Judgment (Zakarian): "I tried to take
you a little journey of crispiness, and as the menu progresses, you'll get a
little lighter and lighter and a bit more savory."
- Sardine Beignet with Almond Gazpacho
- Sardine Tartine
- Pain de Mie of Sardines with succotash
- Grilled Sardines and Asparagus in Coconut Water Broth
- Sardine Veal Nicoise
Judgment (Morimoto): "My first idea
was to remove any possible fishy taste to the sardines. My approach was to then
present various international styles."
- Tatami Iwashi Taco with Sardine Nigiri Sushi
- "Canned" Sardine Salad
- Sardine Fish Ball with Hot & Sour Soup
- Grilled Sardine Pizza with Deep Fried Pepper on a Remoulade
- Sardine Shabu Shabu
Zakarian seemed to fire all blanks today
for some reason. The dishes were good, but no one wanted seconds.
Morimoto, on the other hand, was throwing heat all day. Who gets the
home run? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?
... 57-43 in favor of
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. The home team didn't just
beat the challenger. He killed him.
Until next battle, we bid
you good eating.
To see this episode in its entirety, go to