Battle Cod Roe [FoodTV 16 DEC 00]

5 AUG 2005: Welcome Google visitors! This is not the episode that aired on August 4, 2005, but a different one that aired several years ago and concentrated on cod roe. Read on and learn more wacky things Japanese chefs can do with fish eggs! And as long as you're here, why don't you check out my Iron Chef parody episode and my blog? Thanks for coming, and enjoy the recap!

For a quick refresher, the Ohta faction is a group of several dozen Japanese-style chefs who are appalled that Morimoto incorporates elements of other cuisines in his neo-Japanese (also called 'fusion') style of cooking. They are doubly appalled that Chairman Kaga chose him to represent the epitome of Japanese cuisine by selecting him as Iron Chef Japanese.

The leader of the faction is chef Tadamichi Ohta, who has been on the show, but I haven't seen the episode he appeared in. Saying the faction won't be satisfied until they bring Morimoto down, he names Yusuke Yamashita, owner/chef of Ryokan Ohgi-ya in Takeo Hot Springs, Saga, as his next 'hit man.' Ohta also brought the traditional fifty-chef cheering section and big-ass drum. The theme ingredient was cod roe (tadako), 6kg each of raw and salt-cured. Kaga restocked his impressive sake collection for the benefit of the challenger, a sake expert. Guest commentators were singer Sachiko Kobayashi and actor Kunihiko Mitamura; the other judges were (of course) Lower House member Shinichiro Kurimoto and fortune teller Kazuko Hosoki.

The cooking revealed some interesting things. Once again, Japanese chefs proved they'll make ice cream out of anything; in this case, fish eggs (because that's basically what cod roe is) and 'fruit tomatoes.' We also saw the challenger make sake ushio, a broth made by boiling white fish meat in sake, and sake chazuke (sake rice), a good dish to end a party with lots of drinking. The name pronounced slightly differently comes out 'salmon.' Morimoto wrapped cod roe with bacon (really lean bacon, too). Morimoto said that the bacon added body and saltiness, and that the roe would be too soft without it.

Yamashita presented five dishes:
1. Cod roe with sake dressing, with smoked cod roe garnish. Both guest commentators called the dish 'noble.'
2. Lobster with cod roe sauce. Lobster and sea urchin roe with strained soft-boiled eggs (boiled in a hot spring!), and cod roe. Served with cod roe grilled on heated stones on the side.
3. Boiled cod roe and vegetables.
4. Fried lotus root and cod roe sorbet. The sweetness of the lotus root was designed to balance the saltiness of the roe. Hosoki and Kurimoto liked it; Mitamura didn't.
5. Cod roe rice in sake broth. Red snapper and kelp were boiled in two kinds of sake in an earthen pot with cod roe added. This is the sake chazuke dish, which is is usually served with tea, but Yamashita thought he did a 'perfect' job with the sake and so left the tea out. A big hit with all; I thought Kobayashi in particular was going to die from pleasure.

Morimoto likewise brought five:
1. Cod roe appetizer. This dish featured lobster wrapped in skin of cod roe with red chili paste.
2. Cod roe in mayonnaise, New York style. Yes, that famous village of New York in Yokohama prefecture. And you wondered why the Ohta faction were so worked up. Egg yolk, salt, peanut oil, cod roe, and mayonnaise garnished with bamboo shoots and braised with the famous Morimoto hand torch! Well-liked by the whole panel.
3. Lobster and cod roe stew. A visual presentation that apparently looks sophisticated to Japanese but to me looks like he just piled a bunch of ingredients in a pot but forgot to cook it. This dish featured cod roe turned inside out, breaded, and grilled. BDJ Quote Of The Day: "The cod roe, in my mouth, it spreads all around...". Hosoki gave a lefthanded compliment: "perfect, very close to Japanese cuisine" which got a laugh from the panel and a hurt look from Morimoto.
4. Cod roe steak. This is where the bacon-wrapped roe appeared. Despite the name, there appeared to be no steak in the dish. The dressing was olive oil with garlic.
5. Grilled rice ball in broth. The broth featured funoori seaweed. Like the challenger's dish, this is traditionally served with tea but Morimoto didn't think it was necessary here.

Verdict: 2-2 and 75-75, leading to Morimoto's first overtime and only the fifth OT in Iron Chef history. Scores were Kurimoto 19-18 Yamashita, Kobayashi 20-19 Yamashita, Mitamura 20-19 Morimoto, and Hosoki 18-17 Morimoto. The OT battle is next.

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