Friday, 7 March 2014

Episode 2 Saki-zuke

And cries:

Your prayer
Your pain.

You see your god
Through your own eyes.

Gone in a blink.

Sakizuki is the first course in a formal Kaiseki dinner.
     …a sampling of small appetizers whose ingredients, garnishes and dishware sets the tone for the season and invites the gods to partake of the meal.
Winter sakizuki at Hashimoto's Kaiseki restaurant in Toronto

...meanwhile Jack is trapped in the Pantry of Death with tasty sauce dribbling down his neck....

     This episode is named Sakizuke and sets the tone for the story of Hannibal as it unfolds this season: stronger inscrutable Will, murderous Hannibal, gutsy Jack, vulnerable tasty friends and foes. Although some get much closer and some run away…no one is safe.

I'm tiptoeing through the dark studio to my food styling station trying not to wake the dead 

Just an average day hanging around the Hannibal set.
     At the sound stage, Shoot Day 12 is an interesting day for hair and makeup: Thirty-eight extras naked and wedged up next to each other in a very cold studio are to be shot as an artwork. (Everything is people.)

     It’s the Eyeball Tapestry. A closed set, of course. Can’t have random crew milling around the set when three dozen actors are lying about naked curled together in the shape of an eyeball. Might break their mood – although at some point each one of them must be seriously questioning  “What is my motivation?”

     The human mural looks spectacular. I can’t help but notice that KY Gel was on the call sheet for Hair/Makeup. How much they used and for what, I can only speculate. (I’ll get the details and plug them in here later.)

Pausing a moment for deep reflection...eye don’t get it
     Looking at the crime scene photo on set, I wonder about the deeper meaning of that mural. Plato’s man is too weak to turn his eye directly to the light to see things as they really are – instead, he lives in the darkness informed only by the shadows on the cave walls.

     Looking for God, the muralist looks brazenly into the light -- inwardly wishing only to be seen. Meister Eckhart said it: “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me.”

Aye think naught.
      I, cave-dwelling food stylist, can only look at my shadowy life through a funnybone. So when the topic of eyes comes up, for a joke, I send this out to set:

Tasty Brussels sprouts -isn't that an Ox-eye moron?

Yes, kiddies, it's all fun and games until somebody wants to change things just when you thought your artwork was done. Yup, I'm talking about that unbearably grisly scene with the human eyeball tapestry that I can't look at. Just like when I was a couturiere – sewing’s ok but please don’t ask for an alteration. Seam ripping is the absolute worst.

Put down that sewing kit and get to the cooking, Mads
My concept sketch for Hannibal's solitary dinner
    We are gathered, rapt around the set, peering over shoulders to get a good view. Everyone has been drawn away from their work: the grips, hair/makeup, carps, set dec. Standing around the Pantry set watching the props guy set up the massive butcher's bandsaw so Mads can saw the leg into 3-inch sections for his evening snack in Scene 23. I'm nervous about Mads working the giant butcher’s band saw. The “skin” of the fake leg sticks and won’t slide across the saw smoothly. What if Mads slips and cuts off a finger. Hannibal in the book has six fingers on his left hand – Mads is doing the role with five but four - not so good.

My food styling station where I prep the real veal leg for osso buco

Hannibal's pantry where he preps the fake leg for osso buco

     Adding to the tension, Francois has made only one "hero" prosthetic leg for the scene. No second takes on this one. The prosthetic leg, in spite of its starring role, has to stand around waiting just like the rest of us. 
The fake leg standing around with Francois' bag of tricks and tools

     Of course, there was nothing to worry about. Mads works the butcher’s saw like it's his day job. The crew breaks out in laughter and applause after he breezily saws the leg into sections then tosses the foot in the air with a celebratory flourish.

The foot ends up on my plate.

Never too busy to put your feet up.

Little fibulae, little fibs
     We shoot the scene of Hannibal making the osso buco and I insert little fibula bones into the sections of meat so they look human. Oh, they are actually veal shanks – did I say they were people? I made these little bone buttons out of Fimo so they would be heat resistant and stand up to the frying.

painting blood on my fake fibulae

On the plate: osso buco with saffron-scented risotto and zucchini eyeballs. Plus a couple tiny cobs of baby corn to stand for the corn fields in the chase scene. 
Hannibal's hero Osso buco (before fibula implant) 

Only time for one meal?
      Hannibal is a man capable of many things but he is very extra busy ironing his plastic suit for the many kills he must perform this episode. Anyway, he has to keep his girlish figure for the hot hot scenes to come mid-season. (Yes! You heard me -- hot scenes coming to your screen soon!!!)

Hannibal dining alone? Let's all have TV Dinner together!
     Here’s a recipe for you if you want to watch episode 2 again and have a simul-snack with Hannibal:

     You can make this with chicken. Instead of using veal shank, cut a 3 ½  lb chicken into six pieces and do everything else the same but reduce cooking time to 1 hour.

     Risotto is the classic accompaniment to Osso Buco, but you can serve it with regular rice or buttered egg noodles if you don’t have the time to stand over a hot stove stirring risotto.

Osso Buco
     Hannibal makes this dish with his secret ingredient, the muralist’s lower leg.  You can make a delicious, less diabolical version with veal – a calf of a more acceptable sort. 

6 pieces of bone-in veal shank, each 6 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inches) in length
125 mL (½ cup) flour
salt, pepper to taste
30 mL (2 Tbsp) olive oil

250 mL (1 cup) chopped onions
250 mL (1 cup) carrots in 5mm (¼-inch) dice
250 mL (1 cup) celery in 5mm (¼-inch) dice
125 mL (½ cup) parsnips in 5mm (¼-inch) dice
30 mL (2 Tbsp) butter

250 mL (1 cup) beef stock (or chicken stock for lighter flavour)
250 mL (1 cup) red wine (or white wine for lighter flavour)
375 mL (1 ½  cups) fresh or canned chopped plum tomatoes

5 mL (1 tsp) dried oregano
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf

1. Dredge veal pieces with flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy lidded casserole, heat olive oil over medium-high heat then add veal pieces, sautéing on all sides til brown. Remove veal pieces to a bowl and set aside.
3. Add onions, carrots, celery and butter to Dutch oven and sauté, stirring over medium heat until lightly browned.
4. Deglaze the Dutch oven by adding stock and scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then add wine, tomatoes, oregano, rosemary and bay leaf.
5. Return veal shanks to the Dutch oven, cover and bake at 180°C (350°F) for 1 hour then reduce to 140°C (275°F) and bake for another 2 to 3 hours or until very tender.

Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest and serve with risotto.  Serves 4.

Next week: Shanks but no shanks: a surprise dinner invitation from the fun Upyrs who live down the street

all content copyright Janice Poon 2014


  1. i always love your blog entries, they are so fun and informative. the food looks so great this episode god damn

    1. Osso buco still looks good to me - even after making it seven or eight times for this episode.

  2. About the KY gel:

    1. Oh, very interesting. Oddly, in the shooting of Episode 13 we had a problem of fish swimming in gelatine and the gelatine being too dense to shoot through. KY jelly was the Prop Master's first suggestion. I think they have shares in it or something....

  3. Ep 2 was magical! Nicely done on the food. When Mads deglazed the osso buco, he lit it up with brandy. Would this really add anything to the dish, or was this for the benefit of the camera?

    1. Brandy adds a nice roundness to heavy (marrow) meaty flavours and one wants to deglaze the pan anyway -- the flambeeing takes the alcohol flavour off. I usually use wine, but I'm not Hannibal - why not use a nice brandy if you can.

  4. We made your Osso Buco recipe and saffron rice yesterday. Everyone loved it, even the kids. The wine and broth reduced down to a divine sauce.

    1. I use osso buco sauce for everything - using the same ingredients on chicken or rabbit or a pork shoulder. Lovely.

  5. The Osso Buco looked so delicious AND horrifying in this episode, can't wait to make it. But without a human leg bone! Thanks for writing this blog, it's fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes to make the gorgeous food.. and it is gorgeous!.. and horrifying!

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  7. Osso Buco is one of my favorite dishes.
    I like to put the bone marrow on slices of Ciabatta, together with some of the sauce.

    1. Yummmmmm. I love marrow on toast and ciabatta is one of my favorite breads - soft yet crusty. Must go eat something now....