Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ep 8 Suza kana

Peter and Clark

Will and Hannibal.

Cowbird in a robin’s egg.


Hatched or hatcheted

Breaking shells won’t free them now.


The driver and the driven

Leashed together in their bloody tug of war.

Suza Kana is the course in a Kaiseki dinner that cleanses the palate. Usually a small vinegared dish of vegetable or seafood, it is light and refreshing. After reading the script, I’m not sure how light this episode is but at least none of the regulars get killed. That's refreshing...

Lots of hatching and dispatching this week-- eggs of melon "caviar"  and duck. 

Turducken, anyone?

     A frightened Bird beating its wings like a heart in the chest of a dead Woman who is cocooned within a dying Mare. Did the murderer have Turducken for dinner?

     Most of  the murder tableaux on this show don’t make me hungry but this one had producer Sharon Seto and me talking about Turducken. That’s the dish that famously became the Thanksgiving dinner of choice for football fans in the late 1900s – a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey and roasted. Famed Cajun chef, Paul Prudomme secured a patent on it, but the idea of stuffing game and progressively smaller birds within each other like Matryoshka dolls dates back to Medieval times. It’s called Engastration, that is: stuffing into gastric passage.
It's raining Truite au bleu
     Engastration may not sound particularly yummy but ye olde Tudors loved it. They made a festive pie from a whole turkey stuffed with a goose, with a chicken then a partridge which was stuffed with a pigeon.  Grimrod de la Reyniere, a bit of an embroiderer of facts gives his recipe for “Roti sans pareil” in his almanach for  epicurians: a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting and a garden warbler stuffed with an olive. But Grimrod was outdone by a 17th century Maharajah who is reported to have dined on a roast whole camel stuffed with a goat, a turkey, a chicken, a grouse and a quail within which was a sparrow.

     But enough of Holiday meats. It’s fish, fish and more fish for your unfortunate food stylist this day.
my sketch to plan out the plates for ep 208

     I read the opening scene of this episode with equal parts of creeping dread and bounding joy. Hannibal is in his kitchen torturing trout that Will has caught for dinner. This is fish caught while fishing with Fishbourne for Hannnifish. He’s making Truite au bleu.

First, you kill a fish…

     Truite au bleu is one of those dishes that epicureans love. First of all it’s French. Really, really French. No one, not even the Chinese would go to this kind of trouble for dinner. You start with live trout. Then you knock it on the head or kill it with as little fuss as possible so the trout doesn’t know it’s in trouble. The Chinese way is to pierce its brain by running a chopstick through its mouth. (Mmm-mmm, appetizing, I hear you think.)
Japanese use a technique called Kaimin katsugyo where a thin wire is inserted at a specific pressure point, like acupuncture and the fish is immediately rendered brain dead but its spinal nervous system is still functioning so it’s in a kind of coma til you gut it.

     You don’t want the fish to struggle for a couple of reasons. First is that the flesh will be sweeter and more tender if the fish is relaxed when it dies. The second reason is that you don’t want to manhandle the fish and accidentally scrape off any of the protective slime that coats the living fish. It is the slime that turns blue – well actually steely blue-grey, and gives the dish its visual appeal (Did I say appeal? No, not really)

     I’ve done Truite au bleu for a film before and it was a banquet of 10. So I really didn’t think this scene would be a problem. The first time, I did it in the customary horseshoe shape – head turned toward the tail. But I want to do something more Hannibalesque. Something that alludes to the Engastration of the murder tableau. Trout regurgitating its own tail.
truite au bleu garnished with an octopus tentacle waiting for the consomme shower

     I go to my neighbourhood fishmonger and buy a trout and after a quick struggle (Unfair, I’ll admit -- I have pliers* and a knife – the fish has nothing but a paper bag) I am able to produce something so disgusting looking, I know it is perfect!

Then you kill 49 more…

     Because the trout has to look like the same ones Will and Jack fish out of his Frozen Stream of Happy Dreams, I ask the Prop Master to get me four to six dozen live trout from the same fish wrangler who supplied the trout for the fishing scene. All the same size, please –  no larger than one pound so they fit on the plate. Even as I request this, I know it won’t be possible. I need them to stay alive because their slime starts to slide off when they die. So I ask him to deliver them in an ice slurry in some coolers by 9am the next morning. And I crossed my fingers that one of my assistants will be good at dealing death-blows to fish. As you might guess, everything that could go wrong does and it is wall-to-wall fishfighting right to the very second the director says “Action” three days later.
Platter of Truite au bleu around an epic battle fought between fish, cephalopod and flora, on land and sea.

     While I am flipping trunkloads of fish, Jose Andres sends an email saying that Mads should gill-gut the trout in the kitchen scenes. I won’t say that I am dismayed when I learn that Mads has not any experience gill-gutting. Even if he has, to make the scene go smoothly, I will have to pre-gut them and stuff the guts back in so he can just stick his pinkie under the fishie’s gill cover and effortlessly pull out its entrails in one long blood-drooling garland. It is just one more little thing to add to my list of unsavoury time-consuming duties. At one point during pre-prep, the counters and table top of my kitchen are completely covered with a pestilence of tail-swallowing fish heads. It looks like a punishment from the gods but no, it is just another day with Hungry Hannibal.

     Truite au bleu doesn’t really taste that fabulous, IMHO. Floured, coated in rolled oatmeal and pan-fried in salty butter is a much better way of cooking trout.

     And you thought I was going to talk about Halanabals’ sex scene…..

White anchovies and salted baby squid with sea asparagus (samfire) and caper berries
* When shaping the trout like this, you need pliers: after gutting the fish, you slit the belly open all the way and open the abdomen, spreading it out flat. Then you put the needle-nose pliers through the mouth and grab the tail. Gently but firmly pull the tail through the mouth as far as you can. The teeth should keep it from sliding back. Put the fish on a square of parchment and poach in court bouillon. If you want to make it "au bleu", run the fish under wine vinegar until it goes whitish-grey-blue, then steam. If you want, you could stuff the trout with crab mousse before steaming.

Now for this week’s cook-along recipe:

I know you will not make Truite au bleu, so here’s a recipe for Chocolate Macarons. No reason – just that they are fun to munch on and this recipe was requested by Frederika “Newshound” Lounds.

Mini Chocolate Macarons

makes 3 dozen

1 cup sugar
1/2  cup toasted almond slivers
3 Tbsp best quality cocoa

2 extra large egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2  tsp vanilla

1.  In a food processor, pulse 1 cup sugar, almonds and cocoa until finely powdered. Set aside.

2.  In a large glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites with an electric beater on medium-high until frothy. Add vanilla and beat. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, beating constantly. Continue beating until egg whites form stiff peak.

4.  Gently fold in cocoa-sugar mixture with a rubber spatula, one-third at a time. Do not over-mix but scrape down sides to ensure complete incorporation.

5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment.

6. Drop batter by teaspoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch drops, leaving 1 inch between each drop.  When sheet is full, bang lightly on the counter a few times to flatten and to knock out any large bubbles.

7.  Put in oven at 350F and immediately turn oven down to 250F. Bake for 15 to 20 min. If the baked macarons do not have a crinkly “shoulder” just below a smooth shiny dome, let the formed drops of dough sit  in a cool dry place for an 1 hour before baking. If they are not slightly chewy in the centre, take them out of the oven sooner.

8. When cool, they can be filled, sandwich style with ganache or buttercream icing. For ganache, melt 5 oz. good quality dark chocolate in a mixing bowl over hot water. In another small bowl, beat 1/2 cup whipping cream until soft peak. Fold in 3-4 Tbsp rum or cognac if desired. Fold whipped cream into cooled chocolate. This is too much filling for this number of macarons but you can make chocolate truffles from  the left over ganache. Put it in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up so you can roll it into 1-inch balls, then dust them with icing sugar or cocoa or chocolate flakes. Store in a cool place.

Next week: Sanctomonte Omelettes made from by gypsies.

More dishes you've made for Hannibal and shared:

   More and more of you are cooking along with Hannibal, so please continue to send me photos ( of Hannibal dinners you've made from my recipes or your own. Here are three more great ones!

Freddie's beautiful vegetarian Hannidiner
Freddie's photo of her non-vegetarian Hannidinner

Alex makes these HIgh Life Eggs every Friday morning to start the Hanniday off right
This just in: Joachim Reinhold, a vegan artist/writer with a very stylish approach to food sent these lovely photos from Germany. He has recrafted some of Hannibal's dishes into vegan meals. Great don't need a plastic suit to get an eggplant.
Joachim's vegan osso buco inspired by Episode 2 is made from eggplant and cannelloni

More eggplant and stuffed cannelloni from Joachim - reminds me of the shank in the masthead at the top of my posts

Thanks Freddie, Alex and Joachim for sharing your photos this week!

unless otherwise noted all material in this blog copyright of Janice Poon 2014


  1. My god, did Hannibal actually cook a meal with NO people in it? Or did he sneak some in somewhere? (Maybe in the sauce?)

    1. Hannibal is being very careful right now. He may have slipped people into the dishes when my back was turned but this episode, he's encouraging Will to bring the meat.

      Hannibal's not about to restrict his diet, though. Next episode, there will be people liver, kidneys and pancreas to fry again!

  2. Hey! I LOVE the blog and was wondering (not to rush or badger) how the alleged cookbook might be coming along? I'm sure the Fannibals would rip "We're having friends for dinner: the Hannibal Lecter cookbook" off the shelves.

  3. Janice, that interview with Chef Jose Andres shows that he obviously loves you. I think you both should do a book or show but not really Hannibal oriented. Certainly no pseudo cannibal or meats of questionable origin. Rather, one that focuses on style, but edible style. What would food styling be like if the food was supposed to be eaten rather than photographed? It could be a new mode of tandem cooking.

    1. Are you talking about this one? He was being incredibly generous about me in his interview. I was gobsmacked....

      Jose is so busy with a zillion things - opening his new Peruvian restaurants, writing for National Geographic, inventing a new hamburger, running his empire...I'm just happy to have his good opinion. Doing another (non-Hannibal) project with him would be a bonus.

      I think the food Jose does in his restaurants would be classified as the edible style you speak of.

  4. Janice you should have s cookbook and replace human organs with animal. The food looks so good, I would buy that cookbook.

  5. Hello, I am French, and I liked reproduce the roast pork wrapped in clay. And to make more authentic, I would like to know the joke that you have added. Plesae

    1. Clay baked recipe to come - in the meantime, you could look up Chinese Beggar's Chicken and use those recipes as a guideline. It's very simple to do. But I will post a recipe before we go into Season 3.

  6. Hi , how could I send you a picfood please ? I ve just try to cook la truite saumonée au bleu

  7. Sorry to answer so late -- I just saw this now.

    Send your photo of your truite au bleu (or any Hannidishes you've made) to me at and I will post it when we get back for Season 3.