Morimoto vs. Amoroso: Battle Branzino
The challenger: Chef Anthony Amoroso, a
Modern American chef who spent many years after graduating culinary school
honing his craft in many of the top kitchens in New York City. Today, he's the
executive chef at Michael Mina in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He hopes to roll
the dice against another chef who honed his craft in the Big Apple, Iron Chef
Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Fumihiko Sakaguchi & Takeshi Omae, sous-chefs
Matthew Accarrino & Lincoln Carlson, sous-chefs
Modern American Seafood
The Theme Ingredient:
fresh farmed branzino fish, or loup de mere.
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!"
Battle Branzino is on in
Kitchen Stadium, as both chefs start by breaking down
the fish into the many pieces that each will work on.
Morimoto is breaking down the fish himself, saving the
bones for a later application. Amoroso... not working
with the ingredient at all, just prepping some other
things. Morimoto's bones are going into the oven for
some roasting. Amoroso's going for a 3-2-1
flour/fat/moisture. Morimoto's countering with a pesto
to Amoroso's guacamole... and Matt has some fish out
"Fifteen minutes have
elapsed." Morimoto has sliced sashimi on kombu
kelp, some piece sauteeing with Tokyo scallions, and
some fish is ground with some sausage. Amoroso just
pulled out the fish while working on guacamole, a fennel
cream, and a 3-2-1 dough. Over the break, Morimoto got
his branzino/pork mix out of the food pro, potatoes
added to the saute, and a whole branzino has been
washed. Amoroso has his own vegetable saute going on
going into a convection oven.
- Relations director for Academia Barilla Mario Rizzotti
- Culinary journalist Akiko Katayama (Food Arts Japan)
- A man who needs no introduction, Jeffrey Steingarten
Back on the floor, Amoroso has pureed his
agar-agar, and he'll be cutting that into a gel, while Morimoto is working on
more sashimi, this time in a radial fashion in an earthen pot. We're just
waiting on some soup.
"Thirty minutes have elapsed." The Iron
Chef has a branzino sausage and pieces in corn starch. Amoroso is catching up
with smoked and grilled/marinated fish. Morimoto's pounded corn starch branzino
is frying, while the sausages are in water, while additional pieces are being
marinated in soy sauce. Amoroso counters with fennel cream & vegetable branzino,
and a pot of sugar is being caramelized.
Saka is working on a vinaigrette, while Omae is
working on a fish & potato mix. Morimoto's got a possible caviar to make, while
Amoroso counters with a batter of sorts. That and a fish/potato puree. Morimoto
is stuffing a whole fish and wrapping it in konbu with the chives and basil
pesto. That is going into a pile of rocks. Meanwhile, Omae is working on a
presentation of branzino with a rice bowl, seaweed, and egg.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Plates on both
sides are go. Morimoto is making up the pesto caviar using a widget designed for
said purpose. He also has a branzino sausage being fried and a whole fish
stuffed, wrapped in kombu, and buried in rocks. Amoroso counters with a branzino
smoke, a branzino & potato brandade, and a quite active food mill.
Iron Chef has a salad with a soy sauce panzanella,
clam juice and branzino stock is being whisked with butter, and the branzino
sashimi marinated in kombu is unwrapped. Challenger has combined his branzino
mill with vegetables and more fish frying. The 3-2-1 dough is out for a pot pie.
"Ten minutes to go." Morimoto is plating his
branzino mousse with branzino chips and branzino sausage. Amoroso is plating his
crudo, while Lincoln is loading up the pot pie into the oven. So that's one dish
a piece. Amoroso has a quenelle of branzino with caramelized blood orange. The
panzanella is out on the Iron Chef fish with the sashimi of branzino. Amoroso is
plating his chorizo.
"Five minutes to go." Two dishes a piece. Amoroso
now has a trio of branzino. Morimoto's soup is now down on the other sashimi
dish, so that'll cook through ever so slightly. The whole branzino is coming out
of the pile of rocks, but it's going to stay there for the presentation. Amoroso
has beer-battered fish with the waffle fries. That, the crudo, the tartare, the
smoked piece, and the trio will be five. Pot pie will be six, maybe. Morimoto is
going to counter with the panzanella, the soup, a trio of his own, a rice bowl,
and the whole fish in the rock slide. Now it's all about finishing it up.
"Five seconds... three... two... one..." Battle
Branzino is done. Put it down, walk away.
Judgment (Amoroso): "We wanted to try
and showcase branzino, as many as we could technique-wise."
- Branzino Crudo
- Branzino Tartare
- Smoked Branzino
- Trio of Branzino (Escabeche, Saute, Croquette)
- Branzino Pot Pie
Judgment (Morimoto): "I like branzino,
but it's not common to Japanese cooking. It actually comes from the
Mediterranean, so I used a lot of Italian ingredients, but I had to stay true to
my technique, so my dishes today are mostly Japanese with some mostly
- Branzino Panzanella Salad
- Branzino Brandade
- Smoked Branzino
- Branzino Soup
- Whole Roasted Branzino
The challenger went with technique, but
the Iron Chef decided to go out of the box. Who'll carry the day? Whose
cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...
... 49-47 in favor of
Challenger Anthony Amoroso. An epic battle in Kitchen
Stadium ends with the challenger squeaking past the Iron
Chef in taste and plating. Truly an upset for the ages.
Until next battle, we bid
you good eating.
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