In a Pressure Test like no other, replicating an iconic pho by taste was an overwhelming challenge for Grace, whose broth was ultimately too fatty to avoid elimination.
Adi, Theo and Grace were challenged by none other than Luke Nguyen to recreate a dish close to his heart, beef pho. Unlike other pressure tests, contestants were not given a recipe to follow, instead they had to replicate Luke’s dish by sight and taste.
Identifying its ingredients was the first challenge, they could see it was filled with beef short rib, ox tail, rice noodles, broth and garnishes, but there was a peculiar ingredient that was tricky to identify which Luke revealed as an ancient delicacy – bull’s penis. He explained it adds a gelatinous texture to the broth and respects the ethos of eating the whole animal with minimal waste.
As they kicked off the cook, Luke’s advice is that the broth should be clean and clear, flavoursome and well balanced.
Adi was excited and confident. It was her first pressure test and as an avid Asian cook she makes pho often. She started strongly, blanching her bones to rid impurities which would cloud the broth, and she was the first to get the broth in the pressure cooker. Her hurdles came when she moved onto her rice noodles, creating multiple doughs through trial and error. Her fifth batch was successful, but the delay only left her with 15 minutes to balance the broth and finish her dish.
Theo had never cooked Vietnamese food and was thrown by not having a recipe to guide him. Not sure where to begin, it took a visit from Luke and Jock to reminded Theo to strip it back to basics and focus on reframing the dish to a simple soup. Once his broth was in the pressure cooker, he moved onto more familiar territory of the noodles, experimenting with the xanthan gum to bind the dough, and produced noodles he was happy with. He had enough time to home in on his broth and worked to taste, reduce and season it until he felt it was as balanced as Luke’s.
Grace went into the challenge with a positive attitude but was admittedly rattled by not having a recipe to follow. She took a different approach to the others and started off by caramelising her bones for the broth before getting it into the pressure cooker. The noodle dough took her a few rounds to get right, but she finally produced noodles that she was happy with. Her broth came out of the pressure cooker close to the end of the cook and it looked fatty and cloudy. Mel and Luke advised that she would need to skim off some of the fat, but she’s left rushing while also trying to balance the flavour as best she can.
As the judges set out to taste the dishes, it’s clear Theo had excelled. Andy said Theo’s dish was close to perfect, congratulating him on turning his cook around so successfully after lacking confidence at the beginning of the challenge. Grace produced a dish that she was proud of and the judges noted her seasoning was good and her noodles were bouncy, silky and soft. Adi’s pho was praised for its broth clarity and well-cooked protein, but lacked seasoning.
Unfortunately, by roasting her meat and bones at the start of her cook, Grace’s broth was heavy and cloudy and by not skimming enough fat from her broth, the judges were left with unpleasant greasy palates, seeing her eliminated from the competition.
Grace said her tearful goodbyes as the eighth contestant to leave the MasterChef Kitchen.