MasterChef 2020 recap: Anchovy ice-cream and meat desserts is the challenge we never asked for

The meat dessert is a mind bend for Khanh.
The meat dessert is a mind bend for Khanh. Photo: NETWORK 10

It's Heat Week, not to be confused with Hot'n'Cold Week, which was the best week of our lives, well at least it was for Reece.

Heat Week means these first three days will be split into rounds, with only four contestants cooking each day. The winner of each heat, will go on to cook in the immunity challenge on Thursday. This means there is no elimination tonight, which is good because we are all still recovering from the loss of dearly beloved Jess.

After Callum knocked Reynold off his pedestal last night and won the first heat, tonight Reece, Khanh, Emelia and Tessa are cooking for the chance to cook for the chance to win immunity. Yeah, it's a long game. Tessa seems a little bit salty because she has never been in an immunity challenge before. She says everyone is bringing their A-game so it's really hard to be the best. It's also really hard to be the best when you don't cook pasta and your name's not Laura.

Melissa announces it is a dessert challenge. Emelia – cake baker by trade, stoic robot on screen – taps her fingers together like Dr. Evil, she feels like she's got this in the bag. Khanh says he has made a lot of desserts in the last few cooks so is feeling more confident about cooking something sweet.

We get a sizzle reel of some of MasterChef's craziest desserts: Christy Tania's floating ice-cream float; Darren Purchese's unfurling passion flower; and Anna Polyviou's exploding dessert. Melissa introduces today's special guest judge, one of the leaders in the Turkish food revolution, Coskun Usyal from Tulum in Melbourne.

Last time Coskun was on the series, he competed against Simon in a cook-off. Simon still looks traumatised, saying he "got his arse handed to him", which is something he probably deserved, really.

Coskun announces the name of the dish he has brought: tavuk göğsü, a unique Turkish dessert. The contestants' faces go blank, like they wish this show had subtitles. They each try the dish and Jock asks them what they can taste. Emelia says cardamom, but Coskun shakes his head. She thinks it's a rice pudding of some sort. Reece thinks he can see white strands in there, but he doesn't know what it is. At least we know it is not one of his hairs.

Advertisement

Coskun says the main ingredient is tavuk, which still doesn't get the contestants any further, so Jock translates: chicken. Emelia thinks he's bluffing. Tessa asks Coskun if he is serious – he is. I guess no one cares that Reece is a vegan.

The tavuk göğsü is a milk pudding made with shredded chicken breast. This isn't a pressure test though. Andy says he wants them to take inspiration from the dish, and that they will have to come up with their own meat dessert. Mmm sounds delicious.

"Holy Cow!" shrieks Reece. He says even though he is a vegan, he is happy to cook and taste meat for this challenge. This is also what most vegans say if you get them drunk enough. He picks up duck eggs and a whole duck, shoving a bottle of rosé in his basket to help him think things through.

Emelia says she has never cooked a meat dessert before, surprisingly no one has requested a chicken caramel layer cake from her cake business before. But she says she is feeling inspired by the challenge, and is going to dive in and embrace the pig by its trotters, or some such. She says she wants to have fun, and, yeah, I'll believe that when I see it.

She tells Jock she is making "fig and pig". She plans on pressure-cooking the pork, then candying it in a fig-leaf syrup. She is also going to make tuiles from the roasted pork crackling. It gets a thumbs up from Jock, who loves a roast almost as much as he loves pasta.

Khanh says he wants to do a dessert version of a typical bar snack: fried anchovies, peanuts and beer. He is making an anchovy ice-cream, and acknowledges that this sounds awful, but says he wants to take out the fishiness and just make it salty. Again, I'll believe it when I see it.

Khanh will also make a peanut praline and a beer granita. He says he is taking a massive risk because he has never done it before and it could be a disaster. It is also a massive risk because anchovy ice-cream sounds like balls.

Fifteen minutes into the cook and Tessa still doesn't know what she is making. She says she's never been so lost, well, except for that one time at a Westfield carpark.

She says that a meat dessert has thrown her off and she hasn't prepared anything. Jock tries to snap her out of it saying that everyone is in the same boat. She goes to the pantry to try and find herself, getting inspired in the poultry section. She decides to do something with chicken and speck – fried chicken with crispy chicken skin and a spiced speck gel. It sounds delicious, but also not like a dessert at all.

Reece looks pumped. He has decided on a duck-egg creme brulee, with plum and rosé sorbet and a duck-fat buckwheat sable. He is also attempting to make a duck floss, which he's never made before, but says he's just going to wing it. Just like his duck, RIP.

Melissa and Coskun try to visit Emelia, but her OCD tendencies kick in and she says her bench is not fit for guests. After cleaning it thoroughly, she tells them her idea and promises to go "big on the pig". 

She runs off to get something and everyone on the gantry almost dies of shock because apparently she never runs anywhere. She says she's so puffed, and she looks exactly how I felt after my first walk outside after three months of doing nothing in lockdown.

Khanh is feeling particularly extra today so decides to make his anchovy ice-cream using liquid nitrogen, even though he has never done it before. He puts on Reynold's lab glasses, and pours in the smoking nitrogen. But the ice-cream just freezes and turns into anchovy pebbles. Reynold tells him to leave it for five minutes to melt slightly, because did you know he knows everything about desserts?

Khanh moves back to his beer granita and Andy comes over because that dude can smell a frothy from a mile away. He of course asks to try some. "It tastes like beer," remarks Andy, forever the source of insightful commentary.

To go with her chicken, Tessa is also doing a lemon verbena roasted rice ice-cream and a pistachio skin granita. Not sure why she is just using the skins? Does she know that you can eat the actual nut? This seems like such a strange thing to call it. Also do pistachios even have skins? I'm so confused right now.

With thirty minutes left to go, the judges start having their usual bitch session. Andy says there are some interesting concepts out there. Like climate change, what's the deal with that? Jock thinks that Emelia's dish sounds the most cohesive. Melissa is worried about Reece's duck floss. Coskun is curious to taste them all, and I think he is just being polite because I'm not too sure about any of these dishes to be honest.

Reece puts his duck fat sable in the oven, but he says he wants the duck floss to be the hero of the dish. He plans on boiling it, then shredding it, then deep-frying it, then finishing it in a five-spice sugar. He tells Andy that he's never made it before, but Andy gives him a little pep talk and Reece feels like the man again.

Andy is on a motivational speaking tour and heads to Emelia next, but she doesn't need his confidence boost – she says she is feeling really good.

But she gets a dose of harsh reality when she takes her pork out of the pressure cooker – she says it tastes "absolutely disgusting". She says it is "so porky" with "serious pork flavour". Reviews are in: the pork tastes like pork.

Khanh is happy with his peanut praline, his beer granita is finished, but says he "needs to fix the ice-cream issue". The anchovy ice-cream has melted slightly, so he tries again with the liquid nitrogen and it mixes up smoothly. This still doesn't solve the issue that it will taste like anchovies, though.

Reece is shredding his duck into fibres to make the floss. He pops some into his hot oil, then sprinkles it in five-spice sugar. It's tasty! He's so happy he looks like Katy Perry just called him "the tits".

Khanh tastes his anchovy ice-cream and realises it's too strong and salty. There's only six minutes to go, but he decides to make a chilli-dusted tuile to try and balance the flavour. And also to destroy Jock's tastebuds. Clever.

After simmering her porky pork in her fig-leaf syrup, Emelia now realises it is too sweet! She adds lemon to try and balance it out. She starts plating up. She is hiding the pork under her tuile and sorbet for a "porky surprise". Just what we've always wanted.

As the judges begin to count down, Jock eats some snacks that make him look like steam is coming out of his mouth. Either he's eaten some liquid nitrogen, or he's had a taste of Khanh's chilli tuile.

Time is up and Reece says he is heart broken. He notices that the duck floss has clumped together. He realises he must have put the sugar on when the floss was still hot so now it is all stuck together and lost all its crunchiness. Well doesn't he feel like a goose.

Melissa says she's "in the mood for some fig and some pig", which is a mood I am not familiar with. Emelia's pork, fig and raspberry brulee looks pretty on the plate, and Jock says he is "all about it". He says the pork belly is "luxury" and that he'd eat it time and time again.

Melissa says it was cohesive; Andy says he loved the raspberry sorbet, which wasn't the point but thanks for your input; Coskun says "oh my god", in a good way.

Tessa comes up next with her crispy chicken dessert. She lists out a bunch of elements that don't really explain how the chicken is actually a dessert, other than it is served with her spiced speck gel, lemon verbena ice-cream and that dang pistachio "skin" granita. She says it is a good "entrance dish" if you want to try meat in a dessert, which sounds like a weird thing to say to the judges who asked for a meat dessert.

But Jock says he really loved it and it wasn't tokenistic. Coskun agrees and says the chicken flavour was just there. No one mentions anything about pistachio skins so I guess I will just die never knowing what she was on about.

Reece is up next looking like a kid who just dropped his ice-cream on the ground. He's annoyed at himself because the duck floss did not go as planned. Coskun tells him he shouldn't be so negative – the sable is crunchy and goes well with sorbet. Melissa says the sable has a great snap and is very fun to eat. Jock likes the davidson plum sorbet, but the duck didn't make it.

Andy still has some Tony Robinson juice vibing, and tells Reece that there's "so many positives to take away". He says the flavours were "bang on", and he shouldn't get down on himself because he didn't nail one ingredient that he never made before. 

Khanh brings over his anchovy ice-cream, peanut praline, chilli tuile and beer granita.

Andy says he is an anchovy fiend and eats them out of the jar "on the reg". He didn't think Khanh could make this edible, but the combination with the peanut praline was a "real winner". Melissa says it was a "smart investigation into flavours and the way we perceive them", which sounds less like a compliment and more like a Masters thesis.

Jock thinks the beer granita was genius, and that this was better than the savoury dish it was inspired by. Coskun says the risk paid off. Also Khanh's t-shirt business looks like it might be paying off too.

So Khanh and Emelia are the top two. Coskun says the winner is Khanh, because he loved how he gave an old recipe a new life. Khanh is extremely surprised, as is Emelia, as am I. Anyway, I am off to make a salmon pavlova. Until next time.

Read the rest of our MasterChef recaps here and follow Eloise Basuki on Twitter @eloise_baz.