So it turns out Soma aged his fish using rice bran, and not miso like I had guessed. Ageing with rice bran is different than the method he learned from Ryouko, which used rice malt instead. It can be a little confusing as to what the difference is between these two, but from what I looked up, rice bran is the hard, outer skin that is usually removed from rice, while rice malt is rice grains that have been germinated to some degree. There’s more to their differences than just this, but that’s a bit beyond the scope of this review.
This episode begins with each of the three participants unveiling the Pacific saury they prepared for the match. As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, both Akira and Ryo have chosen fish of the finest quality. When they see what Soma has prepared, they quickly understand that he aged his fish, and are just as quick to dismiss his chances of winning the match. Neither of them think ageing is enough to overcome the gap in the quality of their ingredients.
As the match progresses, Ryo is the first to finish and serve his dish, cartoccio. This dish uses Pacific saury as its main component, but it also includes other seafood such as shrimp, mussels, and clams. Some other ingredients he uses include tomatoes, lemons, olive oil, herbs and butter. Ryo utilizes a special film that is capable of withstanding high temperatures to wrap all of his ingredients together and bake them. His dish delivers a powerful aroma in addition to its great taste. All of the judges are impressed, and Ryo easily earns a bare chest from Director Nakiri.
The next person to finish their dish is Akira. In a surprising move to everyone, Akira decides to prepare an appetizer instead of a main course dish. The appetizer he makes is called carpaccio, and it uses slices of raw Pacific saury as its main part. Akira also sears his fish with a blow torch, and with the help of allspice and kaeshi sauce, his dish is able to deliver a strong flavor and aroma that you wouldn’t expect from such a light appetizer. This dish earns high praise from all of the judges and it forces the director to go bare-chested again. Based on just the judges’ reactions, it would appear that Akira slightly edges Ryo out.
Soma is the last one to finish, and he manages to serve his dish just before time runs out. He serves his Pacific saury cooked with rice and a variety of vegetables. Soma aged his fish with rice bran before the match, and then grilled it before cooking it with the rice. His dish has a deep, gentle flavor and aroma. The judges are very satisfied with it, but before the episode closes, we learn that Director Nakiri doesn’t go bare-chested for Soma’s dish. As good as his dish is, it does appear to be a notch below what Akira and Ryo prepared. Just as Gin Dojima tries to conclude the match and move on to a decision, however, Soma springs one last twist on them. He asks the judges to eat one more bowl, but this time with something special poured over it.
This episode introduces us to another signature judging move from Director Nakiri’s repertoire, The Grin. Given how stern-faced he usually is, The Grin is much more of a rarity than his bare chest. Ryo manages to earn The Grin with his dish, but I’m a bit confused if Soma does as well. Since there was no commentary regarding this during Soma’s dish, I can’t say for sure if the director was simply smiling, or if Soma did indeed earn The Grin, as well.
This episode also helped clear up something I wrote about in my second review, and that’s regarding why Ryo decided to follow Alice. I was assuming that she convinced Ryo by beating him in a cooking battle, but Ryo mentions in episode 02 that she hasn’t beaten him before. We learn in a flashback, however, this isn’t true, and Alice did indeed beat Ryo at a cooking battle when they first met (and continued to do so for two years before losing to him).
Next week we should see the conclusion of the Fall Election’s final match. Hopefully, the special twist that Soma has prepared is enough to improve the evaluation of his dish, because as it stands, it probably ranks last among the three dishes. Since it appears that Soma has prepared some sort of liquid to go along with his rice, I’m guessing that he plans to turn his dish into ochazuke (a Japanese dish where you pour hot broth, or green tea, over rice and eat it). I would also guess that he uses Pacific saury to make his broth.
Given that the Fall Elections are almost over, I’m curious where the story plans to go from here. Like I mentioned in my last review, I think it’ll shoot straight into the next arc, but there isn’t a whole lot it can cover with only three episodes left (after next week’s). Perhaps the story will move in the direction I brought up in my review for episode 03, and Soma might start working for Shinomiya Kojirou.
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