Tag: Simon Majumdar

Hearts of Palm — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, August 6th, 2012

iron chef america battle tropical
In this week’s Kitchen Stadium battle, the Chairman provided not one but a whole cornucopia of ingredients. He challenged the Iron Chef and his challenger to create an inspired tropical meal.

Some of the ingredients on the altar, such as coconuts, pineapples, mangos and green papaya are reasonably well known to regular viewers of Food Network. So, with your permission, I am going to put those to one side and concentrate on one ingredient with which people might not be quite so familiar: hearts of palm.

What are hearts of palm?

Hearts of palm are a crunchy and slightly sweet vegetable similar in taste to an artichoke heart. They are the bud or inner core taken from a range of palm trees including coconut, acai, jucara and pejibayes. They are also known by a number of other names including palmitos and palm hearts. In Florida, they were once known as swamp cabbage and are harvested from the Sabal or “cabbage” palmetto tree, which is the official tree of the Sunshine State.

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Octopus — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, July 30th, 2012

battle octopus
One of the greatest food memories of my travels around the globe has to be an early-morning visit to the legendary Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. While dodging the porters and fishermen, I saw hundreds of varieties of fish and seafood being auctioned off for sale all over Japan.

Amongst all the amazing noises, sights and smells of the market, my eyes were drawn to a number of huge glass tanks containing live octopi, many of whom were attempting to escape by climbing over the sides using the suckers on their tentacles. Unfortunately for them they were soon recaptured and dispatched off to feed hungry locals and tourists including myself.

Watching the Iron Chef and his challenger battle with this eight-legged beast this week really reminded me of my experiences in Japan and I hope it inspires you to try preparing octopus in your own kitchen.

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Strip Steak — Iron Chef America Ingredients 101

by in Shows, July 9th, 2012

battle strip steak
If I am ever asked to name my favorite cut of beef, my first answer will not be strip steak. I will probably offer up a beautifully marbled bone-in rib-eye as my cow part of preference.

I know that for many people in the United States, however, the strip steak, under its many different names, is the beef cut of choice, particularly when it comes to finding a perfect steak to place on the grill during the summer months.

Having seen the Iron Chef and his competitor turn their attention to strip steak, I am definitely willing to be convinced that I should give this popular cut another try.

What is strip steak?

A strip steak is a cut of beef taken from the short loin of the cow. This is at the top and the middle of the animal, before the rump. The short loin itself comprises two muscles: the tenderloin (from where you get filet mignon) and the top loin, which gives us the strip steak.

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Mangalitsa Pork — Iron Chef America Ingredients

by in Shows, May 28th, 2012

morimoto with mangalitsa pig
On a recent visit to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, I was lucky enough to enjoy a terrific meal at a restaurant called Bock Bisztro, which served many dishes made from Mangalitsa pork. Although I had eaten the meat of this particular breed of pig before and knew just how delicious and fully flavored it could be, this was the first time I noticed how incredibly versatile it is. The meal easily rates as one of my best in recent years.

I hope that watching the Iron Chef’s work with this magnificent beast in Kitchen Stadium will inspire you to go in search of this alternative to traditional pork breeds, either in the restaurants of some of the nation’s top chefs or in your own kitchens.

You won’t regret it.

What is a Mangalitsa pig?
Mangalitsa pigs, or as they are known in their native Hungary, Mangalica pigs, are a breed of hog that is renowned for their deeply flavored meat and for their high fat content. The name Mangalica literally means “hog with a lot of lard.” They are sometimes also known as “wooly pigs” because of the curly haired fleece that covers their body.

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Peaches — Iron Chef America Ingredients

by in Shows, May 7th, 2012

iron chef america battle peaches
The average American consumes nearly five pounds of peaches every year, and I can’t blame them as peaches are very possibly my favorite fruit of all. If you visited my home in Los Angeles, you would be very likely to find a large fruit bowl in my kitchen laden with quite a few different varieties along with a few samples of their smooth cousins, the nectarine.

As well as eating them raw as a healthy snack, I love to use peaches in a wide variety of both sweet and savory dishes and am always on the lookout for inspiring recipes.

If, until now, you have always thought of the peach as little more than a canned filling for pie, I hope that this week’s efforts in Kitchen Stadium will persuade you that there is far more to this humble fruit than you ever imagined. You might even be inspired to head out in search of some interesting varieties at your local farmers’ market.

What are peaches?

The fruit of the peach tree is a “drupe,” which means it has a three-layered structure of skin, flesh and a hard stone or “pit” at the center. This puts it in the same family as other fruits including plums, cherries and apricots, and also relates it to walnuts and almonds.

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Sausage — Iron Chef America Ingredients

by in Shows, February 27th, 2012

iron chef secret ingredient sausage
This week’s ingredient was certainly not the most unusual to ever appear in Kitchen Stadium, but that doesn’t mean that the task of impressing the judges was any easier for the Iron Chef and the challenger. In fact, such a well-known ingredient can often be tougher than a more exotic one as the chefs will have to be even more creative to avoid producing dishes that everyone has seen before.

Despite its familiarity, it’s well worth having a look at the history of the humble sausage to see where it originated and how it is used in the cuisines of the world.

What is sausage?

By definition, a sausage is made of ground meat, most often pork and beef, that has been mixed with salt, fat, herbs and spices. It is either sold in bulk or encased in tubes made of natural or synthetic materials. This sausage is then either cooked from fresh or cured to preserve the meat to be eaten later.

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Paiche — Iron Chef Ingredients

by in Shows, February 20th, 2012

iron chef america secret ingredient paiche
Kitchen Stadium is a surprising place.

When the Iron Chefs face off against their challengers, you are never quite sure what they are going to come up with. In fact, I’m positive, neither are they.

The biggest surprise of all, of course, is the Chairman’s secret ingredient. Some of the foods revealed are very familiar, but many are unusual (some of the judges may say cruel and unusual), and I have heard many a battle-hardened chef whimper when the altar rises to reveal an exotic ingredient that has never graced their chopping boards before.

But that’s what being an Iron Chef is all about, and one thing is for certain: The Chairman’s challenges are not going to get any easier. He is continually searching far and wide for ingredients that will really test the mettle of the Iron Chefs and those who dare to challenge them.

For the upcoming season of Iron Chef America, I am delighted to announce that the good folks at Food Network have asked me if I would put together a series of guides showcasing the delights the Chairman has in store for the contestants.

What is paiche? »

Iron Chef America — Tailgating in Hawaii

by in Shows, January 29th, 2012

iron chef america hawaii
As a very recent immigrant to the United States, I have to hold my hand up and say that most American sports remain a complete mystery to me. Until recently, I thought the term “all net” referred to fishing and that a “power play” was something you found at a Van Halen concert. But, even in my ignorance, I still knew all about the Super Bowl, one of the greatest sport events on earth.

So, when Food Network got in touch and asked me if I would like to judge a very special Iron Chef America episode to air just before Super Bowl XLVI, I jumped at the chance. When I found out it was going to be filmed in Hawaii, I was even more determined to take part and, when I was told that my fellow judges were going to be the irrepressible Sunny Anderson and the current Miss Hawaii, Brandie Cazimero, I almost offered to pay for my own ticket. Almost.

What made it more exciting for everyone involved was that this episode was also going to have a very, very special audience selected from the extraordinary men and women of the United States armed forces. It made all of us even more determined to put on a great show, particularly Sunny, who is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

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Fight to the Finish on the Next Iron Chef – Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 19th, 2011

Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

Since my first visit, for the finale of The Next Iron Chef season 3, I have been fortunate enough to find myself at the judges’ table in Kitchen Stadium more than a dozen times. Despite the repeated visits, I still get a huge buzz of excitement as I take my place and know that there are literally millions of people in the United States who would give their right arm to swap places with me. It’s a great honor and the task of judging is one I definitely do not take lightly.

It was even more of an honor on this occasion as Judy Joo, Iron Chef Symon and I entered the arena to choose the new addition to the illustrious roster in Kitchen Stadium. The previous weeks had seen some of the most intense pressure imaginable, not only on the chefs, but also on the judges as we strove to select the two best chefs for the final challenge. There had been lots of disagreements along the way, but I stand by our choices and know that we were all looking forward to the battle ahead.

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Hamptons Seafood Showdown on the Next Iron Chef — Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 12th, 2011

Next Iron Chef: The Final Four
Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

In the penultimate challenge, the four surviving chefs were given the task of showing us just what truly passionate cooks they could be. To do this they were each handed $500 by Alton Brown and given two hours to source enough ingredients to feed not only the judges but also 20 noteworthy individuals of the Hamptons dining scene.

While they were running around in search of the best fish, seafood and produce they could afford, the judges waited in the comfortable surroundings of the Montauk Yacht Club. I would like to say that we relaxed, but it simply wouldn’t be true. Just as the pressure had mounted on the chefs with each elimination, so it was weighing down on the judges each week as we looked into the eyes of the despondent chefs we had to send home.

The pressure was even greater now as we were informed that we would have to choose two chefs to compete for the title in Kitchen Stadium while crushing the dreams of the two others. Michael Symon told me that the thought of the decision ahead was making him physically ill. I could totally sympathize, as Chefs Falkner, Chiarello, Zakarian and Guarnaschelli had all proved time and again that they were each capable of going on to the show.

On returning from their quest the chefs had two hours to cook, the guests started filling up the seats on the terrace and we were led to the judging chamber. Read more