Saturday, 29 March 2014

Episode 5 Muko zuki


Slice of life

Slice of pie

Sidekick thrust aside. 


A cut too deep.

     In a kaiseki dinner, Mukozuki is a small side dish of slices of raw and rare seasonal fish – sashimi. It is set on the far side of each guest’s lacquered tray, hence muko zuke (literally “set to the far side”) in a small beautifully glazed bowl or dish.

After going through the script I sketch up these concepts for this episode

Jack mines for the truth as Hannibal collects the gold

     Jose Andres, our Culinary Consultant in DC, wants Hannibal to make ‘Hangtown Fry” for this scene – in honor of the San Francisco 49ers. Hangtown Fry is a dish that became synonymous with Californian gold miners striking it rich in1849 and celebrating with the most expensive dish the local saloon-keeper could offer. It was first created by the cook at the El Dorado Hotel in Dry Diggins - renamed “Hangtown” after several unauthorized lynchings (you know how it only takes a few unfortunate outbursts to mar the reputation of a peaceable, if unpolished little town and sully the image of it’s simple but kindly townsfolk).
Hangtown Fry - with a crayfish and smoked Maldons salt

So out come the oversized oysters, sizzling bacon and --- fresh cracked eggs.

     We are more than a bit concerned with the Benihana egg trick called for in the script. I’ve tried it and can only get it 1 out of 4 tries, and I’ve seen Benihana chefs flub the manoeuver when they have an entire grill as target. Mads has to crack his eggs into a 8-inch diameter skillet. The props Master calls his guy. The Production Manager calls in his guy. I call my guy. On the morning of the shoot we have 8 dozen eggs and 3 Japanese chefs with their hands made up to be hand doubles.
On set - Three crack egg crackers: Benihana chef, Mads the Juggler and Mark AKA Judge Masa 

     I guess I don’t have to tell you that when Mads arrives on set, I briefly describe the egg trick to him whereupon he just tosses an egg up in the air and breaks it perfectly on the spatula. Did it.  Unbelievable. I insist it was a lucky fluke but he does it again. I accuse him of practicing when I wasn’t looking but he laughs (as if he has time to practise egg-cracking between scenes) and confesses he was a juggler in his youth. 
Beverly Kidney Pie

Sad slices of Beverly Pie

     Beverly has been in and out of the frying pan so many times in the draft scripts of the last two episodes that I have known for several months I will be cooking her up for Hannibal…yet I am utterly stopped in my tracks when I see vivisected silcone Beverly in the studio, sliced up in clear acrylic like a Damian Hirst cow. I stand 5 inches away from the piece and it looks real. I would like to marvel at the talent of Francois Dageneau, our prosthetic guy who makes these human sculptures, but I can’t. My mind is too busy screaming “She’s really dead!” Not cryovacced a basement somewhere to emerge in a future script. There can be no resurrection from this Slice-o-matic. Beverly Katz is deader than dead.
Beverly Pies line up ready for retakes

     I feel something that can only be described as grief. I understand that I will miss seeing the funny talented Hettienne Park in the studio but I am surprised that I feel real sadness about losing this fictional character. I loved her directness – she always solved the crime simply with her clear unwavering logic. While the guys in the room were running around hallucinating, waffling and pouting, she always came up with the goods. I see Hettienne (with baby bump!) in the make-up trailer and tell her I want her to come back in a dream sequence. We can but hope.

Beverly Pate - Yellow and red beets layered with chevre  and sliced to show their inner beauty

Buddah's Hand reaching up through the floorboards to grab  your leg and pull you into the dirt - which is black quinoa

The kidney in the pie is Beverly’s.

     I made Beverly into a pie (honor the Pushing Daisies' Pie Hole!) because no matter how sturdy and delicious the pastry, even though it defines the pie it is just a shell for the meaty centre. The top pastry I made into a mask – in this case, it’s Will’s prison mask. On set, Mads asked me if the pastry was to represent Hannibal's mask – absolutely not!  No one wants to keep him out of prison more than I do! Unless he can get a cell with an eat-in galley kitchen.
Making the pastry mask - mini mask shaped in clay, then covered in tinfoil to create a form for baking the pastry tops

     I think we will all feel aftershocks from the killing of Beverly – if only because her death is a signal that NO ONE IS SAFE. Let’s all comfort ourselves with a hearty breakfast and two shots of bourbon:

Hangtown Fry

Also great for a light supper or a weekend brunch or to celebrate when you discover gold.

For one serving:
3 eggs
3 Tbsp cream
¼ cup water
3 to 5 raw oysters, shucked
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup flour
6 Tbsp butter
2 thick slices pancetta bacon, fried
salt, pepper

1. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs and cream together. Remove all but 2 Tbsp to another bowl and set aside while you fry the oysters.

2. In the first bowl, add ¼ cup water to the 2 Tbsp egg mixture and beat together.

3. Spread breadcrumbs on a plate and flour on another plate.

4. Dip each oyster into flour, then egg water, then breadcrumbs to coat evenly.

5. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp of butter and fry oysters just until golden brown. Do not cook all the way through. Set aside.

6. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel and place over medium heat. Add butter. When butter is bubbling, add beaten eggs from 2nd bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scramble gently and before egg is completely cooked, add oysters. Continue to scramble gently and when eggs are fully cooked, turn out onto plate. Garnish with bacon slices and enjoy!

Next week: Osso buco was a fore-taste. Can thigh be far behind?

I sent this photo to the Prop Master to show how a veal shank could pass for a food stylist's leg

all material within copyright of Janice Poon unless otherwise noted


  1. man i was looking forward to possible bloopers of spectacular failure and egg everywhere. I'm disappointed and very impressed

    1. I was sure there would be egg everywhere too. The writers had put this egg trick in a breakfast scene in Season One and we did a potato toss instead. But they wrote it n again so we figured we were not getting out of it this time and Mads just went in and did it. It was great!

    2. Janice, can you tell me where to buy the spatula Mads used to catch the egg? What brand and model is it please. Does it have to be sharpened?

    3. It was just a very light-weight stainless steel spatula - not too big. It didn't have sharp edges. I don't know what brand because it belonged to one of the Japanese chefs who were there that day to back up Mads on the egg-toss. Good luck!

  2. Loved the mask pastry! Took me a while to get it, but ah, so good. And poor Beverly, so sad to see her really gone... don't know how they are going to fill that "let's cut to the chase" void without her!

    1. I got Will's real mask from the prop department in order to copy it. Verrrry tempting to try it on but it was just too scary looking. So I passed on the opportunity to get a selfie in Will's mask. With flour on it's nose.

    2. Oh, no- you must! The Poon-annibals will love it!
      (can you feel the peer pressure..? :)

  3. Would you post the recipe for that oh so pretty goat cheese and layered beet dish? Will it hold together as an edible dish or is all that beautiful layering more food styling magic? :)

    1. That beet pate is very simple - just cook red and yellow beets (separately) slice them and layer them in a loaf pan between slatherings of chevre. I will post a proper recipe for it here in a few weeks.

    2. I was hoping it was simple. :) I seriously doubt I will be able to make it as beautiful as you did but I fell in love with the colors and am very inspired to try! I'll keep an eye out for the recipe.

  4. Was that lavender Lecter twisted into the ground kidney?

    1. it was branch oregano from Italy. I highly recommend it - a much more delicate flavour than regular oregano. I put it in everything.

  5. Janice,

    Thanks for returning to show us some more. The presentation was delicious, despite the bustle and hurry of working on-set. On the screen the food looked like you and your team pulled it hot from a uncrowded, fully-stocked and unhurried kitchen. You've got the magic.

    In the mask pies, were your fillings made like a regular steak & kidney pie? The crusts were pretty and thematically well done, but I'm curious about the insides.

    Was the mask shape your idea? I enjoyed how it wove dinner into the thematic progression.



    1. Yes, the mask was my idea. The filling that I made for Mads to eat was a mince of beef, mushroom and onion fried in butter. He said he really enjoyed it but he was probably just relieved that it wasn't ground kidney.

  6. The mask is brilliant.
    Was totally shocked by Beverly's death. She's a series regular! Between that and Will dying on "The Good Wife," I was all kinds of shocked. No one is safe--even if your name is in the title credits!

    1. Really. I used to say "be careful Will, the show is called Hannibal - he's the only one who is safe". Incarcerated, maybe -- but never killed off.

  7. Your work is wonderful, I look forward to it every week. I loved your Beverly Pie with the little mask. May I ask if you know what Hannibal's china pattern is? :)

  8. Thank you! Hannibal's dishes are by Mikasa. The pattern is "Crown Jewel" in Platinum.

  9. Just discovered your site here in the UK. We are a little behind you in the states but that just means I can plan for each episode! Thanks for all the recipe's it's making the series even better.

    1. Thanks Nick - I hope you are still cooking along with Hannibal! Now he's in Italy! I hope you enjoy his little spin around Florence terrorizing the neighbours and snacking up a storm.

  10. My dad had a Buddha's hand tree. We never know what to do with them, till now! I love the quinoa as dirt

  11. My dad had a Buddha's hand tree. We never know what to do with them, till now! I love the quinoa as dirt

    1. I saw a Buddha's Hand tree just the other day - weird and lovely. You can't do much with them except scare the dinner guests but they can be made into candied peel.
      Quinoa as dirt is great but the other day, a chef showed me how to pop it like corn. It's a bit tricky because the fat spatters up when they pop and you have to scoop them out quickly so they don't burn, but what fun to eat!

  12. Hi Mrs. Janice... I even got your book that is esperacular. But I would like to know a little detail ... What are the ingredients used to make the mask?

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