Celebrity MasterChef 2021, Episode 5: Easy to Fillet Leviathan

After seeing how Penny Lancaster makes mayonnaise, I think we all are.

Round Two for this week’s celebs and I hope you like fish? And weren’t expecting Rick Stein.

One Simple Flavour

For this week’s taste test the celebs have to sample and identify four ominously coloured flavourings from across the globe

2 of which are from Japan in what I am choosing to believe was an attempt to create an Olympic tie-in, it’s a pity nobody thought to present their squid rings as the Olympic logo. Amateurs.

The four flavourings were Tahini, Harissa, Miso and Wasabi – the latter of which came with a warning of not to eat too much of it and I think it’s such a pity that this wasn’t last week’s taste test given the likelihood that Bez would have just shoved an entire tablespoon of the stuff into his mouth under the impression that it was guacamole. The Miso and Harissa caused the most confusion, although not for Melanie who gave the harissa the most disdainful look as she tasted it

There’s a story to tell there.
Melanie did the best with her only missing out on the miso paste and seemingly knowing all of the others for her utter contempt for their existence. Penny did the worst of the lot with her only managing to get the wasabi after guessing that the tahini was the worst peanut butter she had ever tasted.
I had expected Nabil to do better than he did but unfortunately he overthought the harissa and guessed that it was very specifically Malaysian Chilli Paste and that the miso was horseradish. It was Megan who blazed through the round though with a score of 3 out of 4, her only missed one being the cursed Harissa that turned into more of a Sporcle quiz of her throwing out random nationalities in the hopes of getting a hit, so she was Queen of Flavours for the day and seems to be attempting to usurp Bez’s crown as Messy King

How did this happen? All she had to do was eat sauces? Can you imagine if she and Bez make the final together? CARNAGE.

Out of the Pan and into the Fryer

Everyone was rather terrified of this round because during the introduction they had all clocked the fryer on the counter top and they had all rapidly deduced that it was going to be calamari they would be making, because nothing in life can ever be simple. From there Nabil also has to teach Megan that squid and octopi are not the same things, a lesson that was completely wasted as this is the first thing Penny said upon the reveal of the squid

I will indeed be pitching a 5 part docu-series called Cephalopods with Nabil Abdul Rashid to the BBC, move over Attenborough there’s a new man in town!
The cephalopod confusion wasn’t Penny’s only faux pas as she mistook the beak of the squid for an eyeball and while making the mayonnaise for her tartare sauce she just used whole eggs, essentially creating raw and oily scrambled eggs that John and Gregg could barely bring themselves to look at, let alone eat

the squid rings were at least edible.

One of the big parts of the challenge was how well the celebs could prepare the squid, Melanie arguably did the best because due to her fondness of calamari was able to work backwards and by the power of deduction got a fairly descent result, although the less said about her washing the squid the better

Unless you’re into that, in which case, I do not kink shame.
Her squid would have maybe been the best of the round had she not allowed them to get stuck to the bottom of the basket meaning she had to claw them off the bottom with her asbestos fingers while I imagine the floormanager and on-set paramedic had an absolute fit

but John seemed to enjoy the squid, even if it was visibly scorched

and she actually made an edible tartare sauce which at this point basically meant you were automatically going through to the next episode.
Melanie wasn’t the only one to have basket-related woes as Megan’s also got stuck, her method of removal being much more… violent

this did mean that her plated squid rings looked like they had been through the wars

her preparation of the squid was similarly threatening as with her hatred of all things viscera she removed the innards of the not-an-octopus-definitely-a-squid-they’re-not-the-same-things with the point of the knife while avoiding looking at the thing directly. I had very strong flashbacks to a time at university when I bought a very cheap whole octopus from the market and spent an afternoon trying to prepare it in the flat kitchen, which made me very unpopular with two of the girls I was living with as they walked in as I ripped out the ink sac, much to their horror.

After his fairly disappointing taste test round, Nabil really had to impress with his calamari and unfortunately his knowledge of cephalopods counted for NOTHING. And the industrial amount of white pepper he added wasn’t exactly making him popular with John Torode who sweats at the mere mention of paprika

but it did bring me a lot of joy as John stood there trying to eat the squid and visibly gasping for a glass of water, because he sure as hell wasn’t getting any relief from Nabil’s attempt at tartare sauce which he used the egg whites for, making it a rather questionable shade of grey

I think Nabil’s MasterChef experience really highlights some of the issues there are with the MasterChef brand and how very fundamentally focused on European ideas of cuisine it is and I think it does need a bit of a shake up or else it risks becoming incredibly stale and repetitive.

Something’s A Little Fishy

God bless the way John lavished praises upon this week’s guest chef, Mitch Tonks, ahead of his reveal – telling us about how he started as a fishmonger and is now regarded as one of the best seafood specialists in the country, clearly everyone expected Rick Stein to walk through those perilous swinging doors and then in walks Mitch Tonks who looks alarmingly like Eric Clapton

and everyone had to politely so hello and try to hide their slight disappointment.
This did of course mean that everyone was going to have to prepare and cook a fish dish and it wouldn’t be MasterChef without someone having to fillet a sea bass, the honour this time befalling Melanie Sykes who alongside filleting three fish also had to make a salsa primavera which she somehow turned into the harder job of the two, taking only seconds to ruin the artichokes thus disappointing Mitch Tonks beyond belief

she didn’t manage her time particularly well, clearly slaving over the vegetables because she absolutely, under no circumstances wanted to touch those fish and really the dish isn’t very hard, and for reference, this is a Waitrose Magazine recipe so when you compare it to the fact Megan was over in the other corner having to make a Lobster Thermador, Melanie really probably should have been able to properly cook the fish and serve up a dressed salsa primavera

it’s not a bad attempt, it’s just slightly overcooked fish and a medley of unseasoned green vegetables, I think even a fitness influence would find it dull.

As already established, Megan was being given no breaks and once again found herself receiving the hardest challenge with the making of her lobster thermador, although really the hardest part of the challenge was more for Mitch Tonks who had to stand 6 feet away from Megan at all times watching as she did increasingly awful things to the poor lobster

with it all of course culminating in Megan going Full Hammer Horror on the unfortunate crustacean

and like her sudden realisation in the previous episode that fish do indeed have bones, this time she had to come face to face with the fact that a lobster does indeed have a sort of brain

and worst of all, she was meant to stir it into the sauce, a part of the recipe she dutifully ignored and relegated it to be left and forgotten in the bottom of a pot

I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing with my brain for a while now.

Given the mayhem and abuse she was inflicting on the lobster, it was rather admirable that they still kind of looked like a Lobster Thermador by the end of it all – quite why it’s served alongside just the stems of fresh coriander, I cannot tell you for love nor money, is Mitch Tonks ok?

and if you’re thinking that it looks a bit like it was haphazardly dropped onto the plate, it’s mostly because it was

but she did nail the flavours, so Mitch Tonks could at least big up his own recipe a little bit.

While Megan definitely hard the hardest job, Mitch loudly claimed that Nabil had the easiest recipe with hake apparently being the easiest fish to fillet despite looking like something that washed up on a beach after being thought to be extinct for a millennia and thus probably entirely inedible

I do love that I tweeted “newly horrified to learn what a hake looks like” and several Bad Vegan™ accounts sent me memes about learning what a lamb looks like, apparently entirely missing the point and thinking I thought the hake was adorable.
As well as filleting the hake, Nabil also had to make a garlic and chilli dressing and a romesco sauce, the likes of which stumped many a professional chef a couple of series ago – the almonds got them every time! At least Nabil had a recipe to follow and for the most part it all worked out, the judges did think his presentation could have been a little smarter

and I don’t know, there’s only so much you can do with a chunk of fish and a dollop of sauce – it doesn’t help that his romesco sauce wasn’t quite the right texture or that he had left a multitude of bones in his apparently easy to fillet Leviathan.

Lastly we have Penny who I’m sure lied about the fact she had never had turbot before, I just find it hard to believe after she gamely opened up about having a private chef and seemingly thinking cumin was some sort of underground spice that the riff-raff had never heard of.
Alongside her turbot she was having to make buttered spinach and a Hollandaise Sauce, thus hopefully redeeming herself for the oily scrambled egg concoction she had made earlier, and rightfully being punished with a repetitive strain injury due to how much whisking she had to do

and it was all worth it because she produced a perfect rendition of the dish

it does however strike me as decidedly simple and expected given she had already done several seafood dishes and it would have probably been fairer to give her the Lobster Thermador, which I’m sure she would have done equally well with, if maybe been less cruel to the lobsters.

A Mitch Tonks Dish Ranking

  1. Megan Purely For The Intimidating Chaos
  2. Penny’s RSI Insurance Claim
  3. Melanie’s Accidental Health Kick
  4. Nabil’s Hacked Up Hake

We’re All Going On a Summer Holiday (Kinda…)

Instead of challenging everyone to cook something using the skills they learned in the Mitch Tonks Seafood Masterclass and thus forcing everyone to cook fish again, the celebs were instead challenged with creating a dish inspired by a holiday they went on. The most obviously “holiday” to me was Penny’s curry and accompaniments inspired by her family trip to The Seychelles which she served in coconuts and felt just a scooch problematic for some reason

John and Gregg marvel at how much she managed to do in the hour they were given, which… seems slightly odd given that two of the four bowls are just grated fruits and vegetables and another of them is just coconut rice. It just seems weird that they praised her workload so much when Nabil made Egusi, ground rice and fried chicken in the same amount of time?

Granted the ground rice was a little too runny and hadn’t quite solidified enough but a lot of John and Gregg’s other gripes with the dish came across as more of an unfamiliarity with Nigerian ingredients and cooking styles. Which is again an issue the show has had a long running issue with, and all I can say it was nice to see some new and interesting ingredients in the kitchen, smoked barracuda is certainly a first

it does look a bit like it might lay a 700 year curse upon your family if you so much as look at it the wrong way and I’m beginning to see where it all might have gone a bit wrong for Nabil

snapping the neck of a mummified fish is probably not good luck.

Melanie also found herself contributing to the curry club with a rather generic sounding Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry served alongside a dhal, some puri breads and a raita

Everything is very well cooked and of a spice level that John Torode can handle, so I imagine she used the tip of a teaspoon of curry powder. The only slight let down are the puris which didn’t quite puff up enough and subsequently became more of a paratha really, which some may argue are the superior side dish… Welcome to Paratha Club, we meet every Saturday evening.

Going in completely the opposite direction to everyone else was Megan who was making burgers inspired by her love of Nashville but because she has a gluten and wheat allergy she was serving them completely bunless. Is being coeliac a casting requirement for TOWIE? Of course the bun was being replaced with a few leaves of lettuce and sensing the disdain on the horizon Megan had gone full 2010 on the presentation

At least there were potato wedges, she wouldn’t have gotten away with a completely carbless American burger.
We did only narrowly avoid a raw nightmare as Megan took her burgers out of the oven and thankfully had the foresight to cook a test burger, cutting it open and if you listen hard enough you can hear the gentle lowing of a cow

and because she actually made some very good burger patties, John and Gregg were forced to praise a lettuce-wrapped burger as though they’ve just tasted a Michelin star dish. It bordered on wholesome cringe, I loved it.

A Holiday Inspired Dish Ranking

  1. Megan’s Burger Patties
  2. Penny’s Chicken and Coconut Curry
  3. Hey, At Least Nabil Was Interesting
  4. Melanie’s Miscellaneous Curry
  5. Megan’s Decision To Wrap Burger Patties in Lettuce
  6. Penny’s Two Bowls of Grated Fruit

This was a hard one to judge, it was clearly a toss up between either losing Nabil or Melanie but when you take all three rounds in to question, Nabil was probably the weakest link although I think there was an argument to be made about keeping all four of them and just eliminating Patrick Grant again. Nabil had a wonderful approach to food and was a joy to watch and you know, he didn’t wrap anything in lettuce. I for one will miss him greatly.

And if you’re enjoying these MasterChef recaps and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small tip via my Ko-fi account HERE.

Leave a Reply