MasterChef Season 10 episode 12 review: Who was king of the crabs?


In this review of MasterChef, Renee attempts to serve Iron Chef Morimoto trash pasta. Attempting to cook in the presence of a master has clearly sent some people completely over the edge, including at least one judge.

The MasterChef episode opens with an announcement that we are now halfway to the finale, having reduced nineteen cooks to thirteen. The judges waste no time in introducing the day’s challenge. They let everyone know that they will have a very special guest judge.

Perhaps best known for his time on Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, he is a bastion of Japanese cuisine. He owns restaurants in Hawaii, Dubai, New Dehli, Florida, Mexico City, Las Vegas, New York, Pennsylvania, Japan, and Qatar. He is the incomparable Masaharu Morimoto.

Through the doors he comes, dressed in a black shirt, white shorts, and white sneakers. He is followed by a trail of white dry ice smoke. He performs something like an air guitar maneuver and then he high fives the line of cooks. Behind him, they wheel in a huge buffet of cooked Alaskan king crab on ice.

The challenge for today is to break down a king crab and then prepare a dish featuring it. Gordon and Morimoto will first demonstrate how to extract the crab meat. Before they start, Morimoto dons his very own white MasterChef apron with his name on it, which is very cute.

Extracting the meat takes a delicate but firm hand. You begin by grabbing the legs and giving them a twist and a pull. Once all the legs and claws are removed, you now have to get the meat out.

No crab crackers allowed here as that will shatter the shell and get bits in the meat, not to mention that the chefs are looking for whole pieces of crab, not shreds.

MASTERCHEF: Special guest chef Masaharu Morimoto in the “King of the Crabs” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, July 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Gordon and Morimoto demo a few different techniques. Gordon shows them how to twist the end of a leg and pull the meat out. Morimoto uses scissors to cut a leg open to then remove the meat, and then he shows them how to use a knife to slice away a side of the shell, leaving the meat exposed.

To stress the cooks out more than they already are, Gordon asks how old the crab is and Morimoto indicates it is a little less than fifteen years old. Nothing like ruining a crab that took years to get to size.

Gordon also tells the cooks that a full king crab costs five hundred dollars. That seems rather excessive. I checked online and this does seem to be quite overestimated.

Noah reminds us he has a severe shellfish allergy and then Micah also reveals he is allergic. That means neither can taste their dish and both are at a disadvantage.

The sixty minute clock starts and everyone dashes to the pantry for ingredients. They then return to their stations to break down crab under the watchful eyes of the judges. Shockingly, there are no big drama moments of ruined crab or deathly allergic reactions. Everyone gets on with cooking.

Jamie wants to prove he is more than a fish guy so he challenges himself to make crab and butternut squash ravioli. He admits that he tried to make ravioli at home once and he “failed miserably.”

When the judges stop by his station, he tells them he wants to use the “reproductive flap meat” for a unique flavor. That can’t be the best way to describe that. Morimoto tells him that does not have the best taste and Gordon recommends he use some of the knuckle meat.

Jamie’s not the only one going a pasta route. Fred feels like he needs to show off his Taiwanese heritage. He plans to make crab and crème fraiche stuffed lanterns- delicately shaped dumplings of pasta dough. Renee is also doing pasta, making pappardelle. We’ll come back to Renee shortly.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Nick in the “King of the Crabs” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, July 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Nick has decided to make a king crab sushi burger. Basically, a sushi burger has a bun made of rice and then it is typically filled with sushi ingredients like vegetables, fish, avocado, etc.

Nick attempts to pan fry a patty of rice to start half his bun but he finds it too flimsy. Halfway through the challenge, he completely shifts gears and returns to the pantry for a whole new dish. The judges worry that he has some good components but not a complete, well-conceived dish.

Sarah is making a crab saffron risotto. We see little of her. Micah is also making risotto, but his is a squid ink flavored one and he plans to finish it with an aioli. Gordon feels this is a really weird choice as one does not put aioli with risotto but Micah feels it will add acidity and color to his plate. The aioli will feature lemon and saffron so it will have a nice yellow color to contrast his black risotto.

Shari is making what she calls a Japanese style entrée. She’s taking a big risk as she is making a salad, so she is not cooking other than making a pickle, which I wouldn’t call cooking either.

Morimoto visits her station and he feels a salad may be too simple. He tells her a salad has a very small impact and that she will need to make up for that with presentation. He recommends she use the shell in her presentation which throws her for a loop. When she says she has no idea how she would do that, Gordon begins a suggestion only to have Morimoto make shushing noises and a zipped lip motion.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Wuta in the “King of the Crabs” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, July 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Wuta is making kimchi fried rice. Aaron worries that the strong flavors of oyster sauce and kimchi will overwhelm the crab.

Noah is making a tomato gazpacho which the judges feel lacks crab flavor. Sam is making a crab and corn chowder that also needs more crab.

Subha is gleefully making one of his favorite dishes, a Cajun crab omelet with Cajun crawfish etoufee sauce. I would most like to try Subha’s creation.

Renee starts to attempt to roll out her rested pasta and it sticks in the roller, tearing it. I make pasta at home with that exact roller and, as long as my dough isn’t too wet, it rolls through like a dream. She gets a little rolled out to her satisfaction and then can’t find a pasta cutter. She decides to use her knife, which is exactly how I make my pappardelle, but it does make for rustic presentation.

Frustrated, she takes most of her dough and throws it in the trash. She tells us she is a perfectionist and if something isn’t right, she just wants to toss it. This is interesting given she has said in previous challenges that something won’t be perfect but it will be good.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Judge Joe Bastianich with contestant Renee in the “King of the Crabs” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, July 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Joe comes over to her station and asks to see her pasta. She shows him what amounts to an appetizer portion of noodles. “These? This is not pasta. This is like scraps. You can’t make pasta with this!” She tells him, “I’m going to. Please…let me try.” And then her lip comes out like a toddler about to have a good old cry.

I try not to be too judgmental. These folks are under so much pressure. But Renee persists in acting like a toddler, throwing tantrums, tattling on others, sticking out her tongue, and now pouting her lip. Joe replies, “you should have called me for help. I would have helped.” My notes say, “since when?!?”

So on MasterChef, when you are struggling, you can now call a judge to your side to fix things for you? Then Joe says, “let’s see. Where is it?” Renee reaches into the trashcan and removes her lump of discarded pasta dough. “It’s still clean. It’s on top,” she says.

Joe then takes the pasta dough and rolls it out for her. He instructs her to use the cutter built into the pasta roller and then to cook the pasta! I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was simply teaching her how to deal with sticking dough but he actually tells her to use it!

As Morimoto watches, Joe tells Renee to serve trash pasta and Renee, the supposed perfectionist, obliges. I am mortified. When she took that pasta dough out, I could see literal trash beneath it in the can, and what appears to be marks from the pasta touching the can’s lid, which surely is not sterilized.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestant Renee with special guest Chef Masaharu Morimoto and host/chef Gordon Ramsay in the “King of the Crabs” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, July 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

My husband immediately decides he will never eat in one of Joe’s restaurants. Renee cooks the noodles as instructed, with Joe telling her when they are done, and then I gag a little when she slurps up a trash noodle to taste for doneness.

At last the cooking is complete. The judges, Morimoto included, will sample six dishes. I am praying they don’t serve Morimoto trash pasta.

First up is Wuta. He presents his kimchi fried rice with king crab and fried egg inside the body of the crab, turned up to form a bowl. I hate the presentation. The shell is too small so there is a lot of blank space around it so it looks for all the world like something you would improvise on a deserted island. Not only that, but it is clearly not going to be a stable thing to eat out of.

Our main judges try it without comment, but Morimoto immediately grabs a white towel and folds it under the crab bowl. This stabilizes it and removes some of the dead space, an immediate improvement. Our judges love the dish but Morimoto, who pulls no punches, says the crab is just a garnish on top.

Second up is Nick. I guess everyone heard Morimoto recommending using the shell for presentation because Nick has turned his crab body into a cloche. It sits covering his dish, again in an otherwise empty plate. To me, it looks like trash, an empty shell on the plate. When the judges lift the shell to look at his dish, Morimoto tells him he wished he had made the sushi burger instead.

What he has made is butter poached king crab with smoked sunchokes, creamy corn puree, and fennel salad. The dish is plated with two giant lumps of leg meat crossed over the rest of his dish like the bones of a skull and crossbones.

Gordon tells him the giant crab lumps show a lack of maturity and Morimoto complains there is too much crab. Both Joe and Gordon seem to feel that the sunchokes dominate. The judges like the components but it does not seem to have ever come together as a dish.

Shari comes up with her king crab salad with yuzu vinaigrette, green apple pickle and avocado mousseline. She has served her salad in the beloved crab body bowl. Her dish is praised for the texture, balance, clean flavors and focus.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Fred in the “King of the Crabs” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, July 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Fred, returning to his food-as-a-story roots (remember his winning cake featured a story too), presents “welcome to the lantern festival.” I am thrilled there is not a single shell in sight on his plate. Rather, his king crab stuffed lanterns with crab and fennel broth are beautifully and delicately presented. The lanterns, decoratively folded pasta, await the broth which is poured over.

Fred earns rave reviews. Morimoto tells him “all my five different senses are filling with the king crab. This is kind of Asian stuff so thank you. Good job!” Aaron loves everything about the plate, Joe says it is elegant and refined, and Gordon tells him it is one of his best dishes yet.

Dorian is up next with her herb and citrus king crab salad with fried green tomatoes and spicy aioli. At first I think she doesn’t have the dreaded shell platter but I can’t figure out why her crab salad is served in log shapes. Then I realize she put her salad into the shells of the legs. I can’t imagine how hard that would be to eat.

Joe tells her that the dish is satisfying and thoughtful. Aaron gently tells her he would have structured it differently but he likes the elements. Gordon wishes he could have helped her with plating, and Morimoto tells her how he would have plated differently. All in all, they love her flavors but not her presentation.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Dorian in the “King of the Crabs” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, July 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/ FOX.

Finally, Micah brings up his squid ink risotto with king crab and saffron lemon aioli. Gordon tells him that using squid ink is dangerous, super dangerous, which seems like a bit of an exaggeration. Gordon is worried the strong flavors will overwhelm the crab.

Aaron is impressed that the aioli cuts through the flavor of the ink. Joe is amazed by his risotto, telling him it is one of the best he’s had in ten seasons. Gordon tells him the dish is phenomenal. Morimoto, not one for high praise, tells him it needs more crab flavor.

Three cooks will earn immunity. Shari, Micah and Fred are safe from tomorrow’s challenge. Fred is deemed the winner and wins the additional prize of a table for four at any of Morimoto’s restaurants throughout the world.

dark. Next. Katie Lee believes that this small appliance is a kitchen must have

Tomorrow we see the elimination challenge with “a lot of dough” on the line. Who do you think is in danger of going home? If you won dinner at any Morimoto restaurant, where would you go? And can we get #trashpasta to start trending?