Chef Masaharu Morimoto on MasterChef Legends and monkfish delicacy, exclusive

MASTERCHEF: Chef Morimoto in the “Legends: Chef Morimoto” episode airing Wednesday, June 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.
MASTERCHEF: Chef Morimoto in the “Legends: Chef Morimoto” episode airing Wednesday, June 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX. /

Ahead of his appearance on MasterChef Legends, Chef Masaharu Morimoto graciously took some time to speak to FoodSided about his return to the culinary competition, his status as a legendary chef and the special delicacy that foodies should try.

During a recent phone conversation, Chef Morimoto shared that he was excited to return to MasterChef Legends. Having appeared on the previous season, he felt honored to be included as one of the legendary chefs.

As Chef Morimoto said, he “loves Chef Gordon Ramsay and respects him a lot.” When Chef Ramsay asked him to come back, he “chose to come back right away.”

In this upcoming episode, Chef Morimoto said that he wanted to “show the home cooks his skills” and introduce them to monkfish. Fans of food television might remember that Chef Morimoto had battle monkfish on the original Iron Chef many years ago. Unlike that episode where he had to “fish” for monkfish and was bitten by those “very sharp teeth,” this butchering demo did not cause him any injury.

Although monkfish might not be some home cooks first choice for a recipe, Chef Morimoto shared that the “ugly looking fish” actually has many uses. While his cooking demo on MasterChef Legends will show how to butcher the monkfish from hanging, he wants home cooks to learn to appreciate using the whole fish in a variety of dishes and be willing to explore all the parts of the fish.

Chef Morimoto believes that monkfish is a “popular fish for fish lovers.” Almost all of the fish can be used, from cheeks to fillets, no part of the fish goes to waste.

In Japanese cuisine, the monkfish liver, or Ankimo, is a delicacy. As Chef Morimoto explained, that one small portion of the whole fish can be as expensive as the whole fish itself. According to chef, if you see this item on a menu “you must try it.”

Since some people may be  unfamiliar with that delicacy, the monkfish liver is sometimes served as an appetizer. Some chefs treat it similar to a foie gras since it has a creamy, fatty deliciousness. Whether served with ponzu, scallions or sushi rice, the monkfish liver is sometimes considered a sustainable alternative to traditional foie gras.

Although the MasterChef Legends home cooks or other home cooks might not be ready to take on that delicacy, Chef Morimoto believes that the home cooks can master a variety of other dishes that involve monkfish. He shared that home cooks should focus on mastering flavor first. By focusing on understanding and appreciating flavor, the home cook can be on the right path to improving their cooking skills.

As food television fans watch Chef Morimoto demonstrate the monkfish butchering, the biggest takeaway might not be how he wields a knife. Instead, Chef Morimoto has always been a master of flavors and unafraid to push the culinary boundaries. He respects the ingredients that he uses, has an appreciation for the culinary process, and balances the traditional with flavor nuance. When it comes to the title “legend,” there are few other chefs that truly fit that adjective so completely.

Chef Masaharu Morimoto joins MasterChef Legends in episode 4 and presents the 15 home cooks with their first challenge after earning their aprons. To say that this first challenge is a tough one is a huge understatement. These home cooks better be ready for their Allez cuisine moment.

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MasterChef Legends airs on Fox, Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. EST and is available online.

Chef Masaharu Morimoto has numerous restaurants across the globe including locations in Las Vegas, Hawaii and Orlando. Recently, he has opened Momosan Ramen & Sake in Miami, Seattle and future locations are coming.