Sunday, October 11, 2009

Iron Chef Battle Scallops

So here's the reason why I haven't been posting lately. I've been preparing myself for an Iron Chef battle against a chef & a culinary student. Hello? Can you say underdog??

I was scanning all of my favorite food blogs and came across RasaMalaysia's Seared Scallops in Spicy Cream with Buna Shimeji Mushroom recipe. I needed something special and something that would wow the judges. After reading her blog post about this recipe, I knew I would be using it. However, I also wanted to make this recipe different so that it would still have my stamp on it so I swapped the sauce out with the one I used for the sesame crusted halibut.
(Buna Shimeji mushrooms can be found at Japanese grocery stores.)
Over the past two weeks I made this dish 3 times, each time trying to revise it so it came out more delicious. Justyn was brutal with his input but I had to be strong about it because his advice would help me in the end.

On Friday night I went to 5 different stores desperately scrambling to get ingrediants, plates & the star of the show, scallops. After getting everything I needed, it took me another 2.5 hours to prep what I could. Luckily the rules of the battle allowed us to prep before we got to the location to cook.

Saturday morning Justyn and I packed up everything in a cooler and we were off to SF. Rick was our gracious host and his kitchen was the only one most centrally located and convenient to the chefs. We weren't allowed to know who the chefs were in advance so when we got there, I found that it was Linda, Brian & Dave.

We were greeted with a smorgasborg of snacks and appetizers such as salami, proscuitto wrapped figs, caprese toasts with reduced basalmic, a variety of cheeses & wine. Rick really pulled out all the stops for this event and it was really cute seeing him so happy with his products. He had been working hard cleaning up the kitchen and house so that when the cheftestants cooked, it would be as easy as possible.

Since I was cooking first, I needed a glass of wine to settle my nerves. I had been preparing for this battle for a copule weeks now and I was still a nervous wreck. A couple sips of wine later and I was ready. I beat an egg and used it to make the sesame seeds stick to the scallops. Then I started on the spicy coconut sauce first since that would take the longest to cook and reduce. While the sauce was reducing, I cooked the noodles. After the noodles and the sauce was strained and ready, I cooked the scallops. It sounds easy in writing, but I struggled with cooking the scallops. My sesame crust kept falling off on a couple of the scallops and I nearly spilled my precious sauce all over the place.

Finally I was ready to plate and tell the judges what they were having.

Afterwards, I got to relax while the other chefs cooked.

Virginia is an actual chef even though she denied it. I could tell by her movements in the kitchen that she knew what she was doing. She made a cauliflower puree and topped it with seared scallops with dried currants and shallots and topped that with mache. Her second dish (yes she made TWO dishes!!) was a risotto topped with seared scallops and micro greens and shaved parmesan. Her first dish made me swoon with delight. It was SO good.

A bunch of wine and noshing later, Marco arrived to cook his dish. He made a twist on the classic fettucini alfredo. The fettucini noodles were homemade (bonus!) and he served it with a coconut milk, jalapeno & lime sauce. The noodles and scallops were cooked to perfection.

Finally it was time for the judges to deliberate and announce the winner. Drumroll please...
I ended up getting 2nd place! I was totally gunning for 1st but I'm still happy with 2nd. Besdies that, I was 2 points away from tying with 1st place. I knew why I got 2nd and what I need to fix the next time :) Besides, it was really fun seeing everyone and eating some really fantastic food. A lot of effort was put in by everyone and I truly appreciate it.
Special thanks goes out to Rick & Adam for hosting and providing some really great food & wine. Linda & Brian... you guys rock for bringing some awesome Zin. That shit is off the chain! Thanks to Dave for eating my dish even though you don't like seafood. That is the ultimate compliment :)


machete said...

Amazing time steph, you forgot one tidbit, and that was all the truffle salt and oil that Virginia used in her dish. ;) secret ingredietn. :D

It was awesome collaborating with you to do this. We'll do another one for sure.

machete said...

Hey, I finally got around to putting up a blog post about our Iron Chef cookoff. Check it. let me know what you think. :)