In the spirit of fraternal competition and the will to keep traditions alive, my brother and I hosted our annual cook-off in November. The biggest culinary event of the house hold, it was like Rocky vs Apollo Creed for a 6th time.

I have not fared well in previous competitions, losing both the 2018 competition and the 2019 jamboree. Have I lost my touch? Have I settled in to a rocking chair of silver medals?

This year’s theme was like no other. We based our competition off the popular show Iron Chef America showdown, where contestants face-off with an Iron Chef, creating five plates inspired by a single ingredient. This year, we got the humble radish. At first glance, this peasant pink root vegetable is slightly unexcitable, but after some consideration, this was an amazing challenge. The radish has so many variations in colors, textures, tastes. Just enough to make this event RAD.

The entire cook-off had to be finished with 2 and a half hours. For the first round, we both had to present a dish 30 minutes into the competition.

Joel: Namasu

A salad of fresh Daikon (radish), shredded carrots and a light rice vinegar dressing. Traditionally served at the start of a meal.

Nick: Daikon Satay with peanut sauce

Inspired by classic Satay, I grilled big pieces of daikon on skewers until blackened. Then, the daikon was topped with lime, scallions, cilantro, a peanut sauce, and a chilli oil.

The next four plates had to be presented during the next 2 hour period. Here is what we came up with.

Joel

Plate 2: Tofu with pickled radish and soy mirin reduction

The pickled radishes were the highlight of the dish. It was presented in a French onion soup bowl, very beautiful plate, but the judges thought the plate was too salty.

Plate 3: Radish leaf Furikake with homemade bread

An extremely bold move, Joel was planning on making dumplings, similar to Dim Sum, but his dough did not turn out the way he envisioned. He quickly revised his plan and made an interesting stuffed bread. Kudos for creativity.

Plate 4: Mushroom toast with roasted miso daikon

A take on the classic mushroom toast dish, using miso, daikon and dulse, a North American sea weed that is similar to bacon.

Plate 5: Natilla custard with radish

A subtle cinnamon taste resonates within this amazing custard. It did not set on time, but the result was still delicious. We used it as an ice cream base the next day.

Nick

Plate 2: Seared radish in Ghee with horseradish mustard and wild mushroom fumé

The red radishes were roasted in Ghee (clarified butter) and wild mushrooms. Then, the fumé was made with dried shiitakes and porcinis and shallots. The mustard gave it texture and a slight punch. Topped with fried parsnips.

Plate 3: Homemade turmeric fresh pasta with Browned butter and horseradish

The fresh pasta was the highlight of my lineup. I made the fresh pasta dough, infused with fresh turmeric. This was rolled and cut into fettuccine, then tossed in horseradish browned butter. Fresh horseradish was grated on top to resemble cheese.

Plate 4: Radish tempura with lemongrass broth

A classic tempura batter, and fried radishes. Dipped in a lemongrass broth.

Plate 5: White chocolate and beet mousse with candied radish

WAAAAAAY too sweet. All I’ll say.

Results

This year, my revenge came. My victory was extremely slim, the difference was a mere one point. What came out of the competition was tons of self-reflection. We had to judge each others performances. Joel gave me a 36 out of 55. I gave him a 44.

What a slap in the face! I might just be a soft grader.

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