MasterChef – Thursday 1st March

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OH MY GOODNESS!!! apparently there were two episodes of MasterChef this week. I’ve been watching them back on BBC iPlayer so must have not got the announcement! Anyway, I’m very sorry to those of you who were expecting a second MasterChef post last week but I was very busy and didn’t realise there had been one on Thursday.

I’ve now watched it and am very happy that nobody went out, yay!

The final four, Jay, Shelina, Andrew and Tom, were taken to Thailand to cook in three different environments.

The contestants start out in a street-food market in Chiang Mai, apparently the country’s food capital. They each are tasked with opening up their own food stalls, cooking a dish each to serve to the community at lunch time.

All four were worried, with Jay particularly concerned that he’d only ever made a green curry at home, and the rest cooking with ingredients that they’d never seen before.

David Thompson, whose restaurant, Nahm, became the first Thai restaurant in Europe to win a Michelin star, is sent to help the contestants understand how to cook Thai food and which ingredients they should be looking for, to create the perfect balance between sweet, sour, hot and salty.

David gave Andrew the grilled chicken with a green papaya salad with garlic, tomatoes and dried prawns, a peasant food dish which is traditional in Thai street-food markets. John said the dish is one of the most famous and popular street-food dishes and that Andrew would have to work hard to balance the four classic flavours.

Shelina was asked to make a spicy minced pork dish served with crunchy rice cakes, for which she first needed to make a red chilli paste, incorporating red chillies, and about 583 other ingredients!

Tom was told he had the easy job (if he’d been living in Thailand his entire life), making Thai fish cakes, using serpent head fish, which he’d never seen before.

David told Jay that he had the most noble dish, a chicken noodle curry topped with crispy fried noodles. Jay also had a tough job of pounding together loads of ingredients to make a curry paste.

The locals were all really impressed with the contestants dishes, all of them selling plate after plate, although there were some negative comments from a few who wanted more heat.

The four were then taken up to the hills to cook a banquet for 50 farmers and volunteers who work on a project to encourage the farming of food rather than opium.

Although the chefs were each cooking a different dish, the four would be served together, again creating the perfect harmony between salty, sour, hot and sweet. The main challenge with this seemed to be the huge amount of prep, again having to pound dozens of ingredients into curry pastes, roasting chillies and shallots and chopping everything in sight!

Despite a huge amount of fear mongering from John and Greg though, they all did really well.

Lastly, the contestants were put under a huge amount of stress, when they were told they would be cooking for royalty, Prince Rachani, one of the oldest living royals in Thai history.

Each contestant was given four hours to cook an original recipe, Andrew with a trio of starters. He prepared a fruit dish with a prawn and pork topping, chive dumplings and stuffed beetle leaves. He has a but of a hiccup when he tries to do two things at once but manages to salvage his minced pork before it burns.

The dish looked absolutely beautiful, with one diner not wanting to eat it because it was so pretty, and David Thompson, who had also been invited to the meal, said he was ‘absolutely astonished’ that Andrew had managed to pull the dish off.

Tom made the main course of pork loin cooked in a spicy tomato paste and deep-fried pork belly with a mango salad and a mango and tamarind sorbet. He was rushing around when he put his sorbet in the freezer, he left the door open, and his dessert spilt everywhere, luckily though he had enough left over to go back into the freezer, carefully.

The diners said that the pork was cooked perfectly and the difference in temperatures with the sorbet was very interesting. The tomato chilli paste was apparently very similar to the traditional chilli paste in northern Thailand, perfect.

Jay prepared the fish course of red snapper with pickled papaya and carrot in a Thai green curry sauce. John and Greg were both very concerned that his dish wouldn’t be complex enough, especially compared to how much the other three were pushing themselves. In comparison to the others, Jay’s dish looked a bit of a mess and the Prince said he didn’t like the sauce as it was too thick.

And dessert was served by Shelina, who made a milk tea with tapioca pearls, a mango tart and a traditionally inspired, six layered rainbow cake. The mango tarts needed to be taken to the blast chiller to set which led to a surreal moment when Shelina drove them across the estate in a golf buggy!

Her trio of puddings looked stunning, although the Prince refused to eat the rainbow cake as he was put off by the green colours, although the mango tart was delicious. Others, who weren’t concerned with the colour, said the rainbow cake was really nice.

David Thompson said that what they had achieved was brilliant and that the sterling effort they had all obviously put in was very greatly appreciated.

Next week the four will cook for a group of veteran comedians, and hopefully I’ll remember to watch!

You can watch MasterChef here.

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