September 29, 2023


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Watch 4 Levels | 4 Levels of Curry: Amateur to Food Scientist | Epicurious Video | CNE |

[chopping lobster]

[pouring liquid]

[pan sizzling]

[upbeat beat]

Hi, I’m Emily, and I’m a level one chef.

Hi, I’m Lorenzo, and I’m a level two chef.

Hey guys, this is Yuji.

I’ve been a professional chef for eight years.

[upbeat beat]

I eat a lot of curry.

You name the curry, I like it.

All the curries, they’re all good.

I actually started eating a lot

of curry because my brother-in-law is British.

It was a complete different flavor profile.

I’ve loved it ever since.

So today I’m gonna be making chicken curry,

coconut milk, and vegetables.

Today I’ll be making Japanese curry with live lobsters.

Gonna use all parts of lobster to make Japanese curry

super tasty and unique.

Every kid’s favorite in Japan.

[intense beat]

So my recipe is based on adobo chicken.

We are going a lil’ fancy

and making it easier for your guests to eat.

So we deboned it and deskinned it

to make it a little healthy, doesn’t really matter.

When somebody says adobo, adobofy it,

[Lorenzo laughing]

it’s vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper.

I have extra ingredients, which is the sugar,

the onion powder, and I have ginger powder.

So I’m combining the two.

So for the main part of my curry, it’s a vegetarian curry,

so it’s vegetables.

I’ve got spinach, potatoes, green beans,

and tomato, and coconut milk.

I think it’s really tasty and it works as a meal.

So I have soft shell lobsters.

Soft shell lobsters are great for curry

because the shells are much softer

and you can utilize the whole body

much, much easier than hard shells.

Everything gets used and nothing’s wasted,

and you get really nice curry.

Let’s start with our potatoes.

Put our potatoes in the bowl.

And the next thing we’re gonna do

is just cut these green beans down to size.

You’re ugly and no one likes you.

[Emily laughing]

I’m sorry that’s dumb.

So before I start preparing these lobsters,

I’m gonna start making kombu dashi.

Kombu dashi is the broth made from cold water

with just a kombu.

Kombu is dried kelp, so it adds a really nice umami.

It’s called the glutamic acid into the water.

It’s gonna take about 15 minutes or so

for the kombu dashi to be ready.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna go ahead and get ready the lobsters.

Let’s go ahead and just pour everything together.

This is just water.

Now mind you, when you’re doing a marination

you just need an extra liquid.

You can totally use beer, I prefer beer.

[Lorenzo laughing]

So of course I have my soy sauce,

and then I have vinegar, onion powder.

You could totally use fresh onion,

but guess what, I’m done choppin’ for now.

And just give it a little chop.

Trim the stems off my spinach,

doesn’t have to be perfect just has to be chopped.

Now I have ginger.

You’ve gotta have sugar, why?

Sugar will help the marinade kind of adhere to the protein.

So now this is all together.

We’re just gonna mix this up.

I will add salt and pepper.

Now let’s get five garlic.

It’s a rough chop.

I’m gonna go ahead and get the lobsters ready.

If we are to boil lobsters alive

it actually deteriorates the flavor,

because it creates more stress in the protein

and then leaks out the flavor.

It’s important to kill any animal without any suffering.

The way to do it is you aim for the nerve.

So I put my knife straight in there

and then the lobster dies instantly.

I prepped these lobsters and they are ready to be boiled.

Kombu is ready to be out of the water.

[water dripping]

Now my kombu dashi is ready,

and then I’m gonna boil these lobsters.

Let’s salt and pepper this chicken.

I’m going to be saving a few tablespoons of my marination

’cause I’m gonna use that in the cooking process

of my vegetables.

I’m going to take one ringy dingy,

two ringy, I don’t know why I said that.

Why not one more, What the hell?

Let’s go for a little swim.

Even if you marinate anything for a good 20 minutes,

that is absolutely helpful.

So I’m gonna throw it in the refrigerator

and I’m gonna let it marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

So I’m gonna take the lobsters out of the water,

and I’m gonna shock it in ice.

So I’m gonna be using this water for broth too,

that’s why I wanna make sure that every juice

out of the lobster goes in here, not here.

So now I’m going to separate the body from head,

and then the tail.

And I’m gonna shuck the meat out of it as much as possible.

So I’m gonna be using all parts of the lobster.

No part gets wasted.

The lobster shell becomes oil,

lobster body becomes the broth,

and then the lobster meat becomes part of the [indistinct].

So you see how little meat you get

out of those giant lobsters?

That’s why you wanna make sure that you use everything.

My chicken has been marinating for a good hour,

and I’m ready to go ahead and start cooking here guys.

Let’s just test if we get a sizzle.

Ooh yes I love it, okay.

[chicken sizzling]

That’s what we want.

All right, that’s it.

All my vegetables are prepped

and it is time to make my curry.

The first thing I have to do

is chop my onions and my garlic.

[chopping onion]

I’m just gonna add some oil here,

start gettin’ my oil hot.


Now it’s time for my sauce.

So now I have my kombu lobster dashi here.

I have these shells.

And the first thing I’m gonna do

is I’m gonna squeeze all the juice into here.

[pouring juice]

This is the most dangerous part.

It’s more like lobster juice rather than lobster broth.

So I’m using the water that I have to basically

kind of de glaze the bottom of this pan.

See how it’s bubbling?

I’m gonna actually turn down the heat now

’cause I don’t want a boil, I want a simmer.

I’m gonna pour in this delicious coconut milk.

[pouring coconut milk]

I just love the fact

that you can find coconut milk anywhere.

The pickling juice of pepperoncini.

[Lorenzo laughing]

The actual cut up pepperoncinis.

The very last ingredient, which is my curry powder,

which will bring that delicious flavor of curry

into this coconut mo–

Added to the delicious flavors of adobo.

That looks beautiful.

So while this is gonna simmer for a good 20 or so,

let’s work on my vegetable saute.

So I’m gonna add celery, onion, bay leaf,

and then lobster body into the broth.

[cutting onion]

Using the yellow–

[Both] Onion.

So I’m just gonna pop this onion into my pan.


Garlic into the pot.

[scraping board]

Turmeric, cayenne pepper, mustard seeds, and cumin.

I’m just gonna give this a mix.

All right, so my garlic, and onions,

and my spices have been sort of sizzling away here

and I’m ready for my next step.

So I’m going to add my tomatoes, potato chunks,

a generous pinch of salt.


All right, so I’m gonna pop a lid on this.

This is what we call miso in Japanese actually,

it looks like a miso paste.

So lobster miso is very delicious.

I wanna open that up so it actually blends

into the broth much easier.

Tastes very sweet.

[chopping lobster]

Once all the ingredients are soft enough

I’m gonna use a hand mixer and blend everything,

and then strain.

So my potatoes have been boiling away

and I’m gonna check on them.

Very pokeable potatoes.

So I’m going to add in my green beans,

and just give this little stir.

Now you may notice that I matched this very well.

It is so intentional.

That is what I thought when I got up this morning,

and got dressed.

I wanna look like my curry.


[Emily laughing]

So my chicken is simmering away

in the beautiful coconut curry sauce.

And we’re gonna party on through, and add some friends here.

We’re gonna saute some vegetables for it.

This is a peeler that I have adopted,

and I will be using all the time now.

Sitaw, or green beans.

I will do maybe three inch legs.

Actually ends up looking like

the size of a typical green bean.

Since I’m sautéing it, I will go a little smaller here.

It’s just what we always do first, is onions and garlic.

I just like the onions

to kinda have started cooking already.

I’m always worried about burnin’ my garlic.

This is the reserve marinated,

I believe I have four tablespoons.

Three is fine, but you know what?

Four is better.

The best way to utilize these shells

are turning them into oil.

You’re gonna cut this up into smaller pieces

and you’re gonna add the oil, and you’re gonna fry them.

So I’m just cutting all these shells

in smaller pieces as much as possible

so it actually fries quicker.

[dumping in shells]

This is just normal vegetable oil.

That’s the color that you’re looking for, nice and orange.

Okay guys, this vegetable medley here has been sauteed,

it looks fantastic, the colors are great.

It still has a nice bite.

Let’s add it to the sauce.

And we’re just gonna put in all these vegetables right in.

Just go ahead and sauce it all.

My lobster oil’s been cooking for about half hour.

Now it’s ready to be strained.

[pouring oil]

So red.

The strained broth is gonna be used for the sauce.

So this has been reducing for about an hour or so.

So I’m gonna blend everything almost to be like smoothie.

[blender running]

Blending is done, now ready to strain.

[pouring broth]

If it smells good, it tastes always good.

Very good.

And I’m gonna use the lobster oil to saute the vegetables.

After they’re cooked, I’m gonna pour broth

and a roux to finish it.

Yellow onion.

[cutting onion]

So I’m gonna have my lobster oil.

[chopping celery]


[veggies sizzling]

Okay, ooh look how pretty that is.

I haven’t even mixed it yet.

Now we mix.

Vegetables that I sauteed,

and also the lobster claw meat in almost like one sauce.

So now I’m gonna add my lobster broth.

So I’m gonna add this roux into this.

It’s got a lot of nice curry powders,

and then vegetable, eggs, and melt it down.

Now my curry is finished.

So the last thing I have to do here

is I’m gonna toss in my spinach.

All of this coconut milk, mm.

[pouring milk]

And I’ll give it just a smidge more salt.

All right, this is looking good, I think it’s time to plate.

This will be delicious.

Just a little fun fact for you.

Grab some of my cilantro and sprinkle it on top here.

So what I have here is a store bought piece of naan bread

because, and this is true,

I don’t have a tandoori oven at my house.

Pop my naan in there, and it’s done.

I love to have a nice bed of rice,

’cause why not?

[upbeat music]

Okay, now we can’t forget these wonderful vegetables.

Now I have a curry right here ready,

and also the rice, and then the watermelon radish,

and then the egg, squash, greens, and a lobster tail.

Everything that you wanna eat.

Let’s put in one big, giant curry bowl.

[tapping bowl]

Here’s my vegetarian curry.

[drum pounding]

And here’s my chicken coconut curry

with a bunch of veggies.

[drum pounding]

This is my lobster curry.

[drum pounding]

[calm music]

I’m ready to dig in.

I’m just staring at it ’cause I can smell it.

It smells so good.

[all chewing]


This is so good.

Yeah that turned out really good.

It’s oddly satisfying to me, it’s kind of weird.

I have to get another bite of the sauce, all right one sec.

[Lorenzo chewing]

Mm, wow.

Packed with flavor.

This is a great weeknight kinda curry

’cause you can do it fast, it’s easy.

There’s a lot of set it and forget it

where you chop it up, put stuff in, cover it,

and you’ve got 10 minutes to open a beer,

or do the dishes, or whatever.

I’m now dipping the lobster tail in the lobster broth.


[Yuji eating]

Yeah my wife will be super jealous.

[Yuji laughing]

So nice, so subtle.

Boom, boom, boom, flavor this.

This is yummy, everything, just layers of flavor.

The way that I showed today,

chopping the lobster shells and frying,

squeezing the lobster juice out of the body.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it.

Level four should just be tinned curry.

[intense beat]

Curry is a wonderful warm stewed dish

that’s as versatile as it is delicious.

Let’s see how each of our three chefs made theirs.

[intense beat]

Emily made a vegetable curry

with potatoes as her main and most filling component.

She used Yukon gold potatoes.

These are a type of waxy potato,

a term which describes the potatoes texture after cooking.

You know, if you guys keep hiring me,

eventually I’m gonna get good at cooking.

[Emily laughing]

They have a dense texture with starch cells

that adhere to each other and hold their shape better

than the more mealy varieties like russets or blue potatoes.

Lorenzo made a chicken curry with chicken thighs,

a type of dark meat.

They’re darker in color because they have more myoglobin.

They’re also higher in fat,

and lend themselves well to stewing.

I love chicken thighs.

I feel that their juicier.

Whew, smells good.

Dark poultry meat has longer fibers

that are more firmly bound together with connective tissue

as compared to white meat.

So slow, moist cooking softens

and tenderizes the dark meat nicely.

Lorenzo marinaded his chicken thighs in aromatics

with some vinegar, or acetic acid.

This tenderized the meat

by breaking down the proteins more easily.

Be careful when adding acids directly to meat,

as acid promotes proteolysis,

or the breakdown of muscle tissue.

Too much acid applied for too long

will make your meats soft and mushy.

Lorenzo only briefly marinated his chicken

so this wasn’t a problem.

That’s no bueno you guys.

Before adding raw chicken to the marinade,

Lorenzo reserved some of it to use later.

This was smart because once raw chicken is in the marinade

you shouldn’t use it for anything else.

It may be contaminated

with pathogenic bacteria from the chicken.

Let’s do it, yeah?

Yuji made a Japanese style lobster curry.

He used a soft shell lobster

which is a lobster that recently overgrown

and shed its old shell.

Soft shell lobsters have a meat that’s brinier,

and more tender than hard shell lobsters.

This is because they have less meat

and more seawater inside the shell,

which in a way marinates the meat.

[intense beat]

Yuji made a kombu dashi which is a basic water-based broth

that’s perfectly flavorful and balanced.

Kombu is a brown algae

that’s naturally very high in monosodium glutamate or MSG.

This is kombu.

The study of kombu actually gave us the term umami,

which is the flavor Yuji was hoping to achieve in his dish.

It’s savory and made a flavorful liquid

for boiling his lobsters.

Emily made a simple but delicious curry sauce

for her potatoes and vegetables.

She layered flavors by adding her aromatics

and spices directly to the oil.

Flavor compounds like cuminaldehyde and pyrazines

are expressed in oil.

Cuminaldehyde is a major flavoring compound

in cumin and yields a warm, smoky, spicy flavor.

Pyrazines are associated with more roasted, toasty flavors.

It’s nice, and it’s good.

I’m a fan.

Spices like cumin, mustard seeds, and turmeric

also have some thickening properties

because of the polysaccharides

or starches that they contain.

As starches are heated hydrogen bonds within them

start to vibrate, break apart,

and interact with water, which causes swelling.

Emily also used coconut milk,

a rich flavorful liquid that formed the base of her curry.

I really like coconut milk,

so I just wanna make sure this all gets in there.

Coconut gets it’s distinctive sweet flavors

from compounds called lactones.

You’ll also find lactones in other fruits like peaches,

strawberries, and pineapple.

Her canned, diced tomatoes added some liquid

and viscosity from the starches in the tomatoes.

This product usually has added calcium salts

in order to support the cross-links

between the pectin molecules in the tomatoes.

This helps the tomatoes to retain their firmness

during the canning process.

Lorenzo’s sauce was a combination

of his seasoned chicken meat, and coconut milk,

and his vegetables saute.

We’ve got my sitaw.

[Lorenzo evilly laughing]

As Lorenzo’s meats and vegetables cooked,

the salts and sugars in his added ingredients

drew out moisture adding to the stewyness of his curry.

Yuji used every ingredient in his recipe

for maximum flavor and no waste.

What you see here is pretty much whole lobster.

This is the only lobster you see at the restaurant,

but this is what else you can do with the rest of the body.

He made an infused oil from the shell, body,

and knuckle of the lobster.

Lobster shell contains astaxanthin,

a carotenoid pigment that when heated,

breaks apart from the protein it’s bound to

when the lobster is alive.

Astaxanthin is lipid soluble,

so it’s expressed in the oil

which is why the oil got so red.

I don’t have any sort of coloring for real,

it’s super orange.

Yuji made a lobster stock by adding the lobster head

in the aromatics to his kombu dashi,

which he reduced and blended

to create a thick and flavorful stock.

By letting his stock simmer for an hour

he reduced its water content through evaporation

and concentrated its flavor compounds.

It’s a lobster smoothie.

Notice that Yuji used fewer ingredients

than are levels one and two chefs.

Sometimes the most complex flavors

come from the balance of simplicity.

Next time you’re in the mood for curry

we hope you’ll take some of these tips

from our three wonderful chefs.

[upbeat music]