3.169 Pizza Insalata

-Cycle 3, Item 169-
22 (Fri) June 2012

Pizza Insalata


at The Corner Kitchen

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife, Dominic, Mom and Dad

With this pizza, I've run out of excuses not to give this restaurant a 6-star rating. I held back (see most recently 3.163 Pizza Picante Carni), feeling that the unremarkable cheese and tomato sauce didn't measure up to the exhalted standards of excellence for which this blog is internationally renowned. But the fresh vegetables here--sliced red onions, pre-roasted cherry tomatoes, and piles of arugula (my favorite pizza topping of all)--together providing a perfectly crispy and bitter-sweet-tangy counterbalance to the perfectly savory-chewy crust, more than made up for the other deficiencies.  Overall, it was one of the best pizzas that I've ever had in my life.  16,000 won.

- - - -

The past 3 episodes of Master Chef Korea, which started its first season a couple months ago, appear to have taken cues from this blog.  On tonight's episode, Episode 9, the elimination challenge concerned street food, a topic that I covered last Sunday (see 3.164 The Trinity).  In Episode 8's elimination challenge, judge/chef Leo Kang made mandu (meat dumplings) with 20 ingredients and asked each contestant in turn to identify as many as possible, one incorrect response ending that contestant's turn, the contestant with the lowest total being eliminated; interestingly, all the contestants got tripped up when they incorrectly named daepa instead of buchu, two similar types of onion that I discussed about a week earlier (see 3.154 Stir-Fried Buchu & Eggs).  Finally, the elimination challenge for Episode 7 involved manually beating egg whites into stiff peaks ("high picks," as the helpful subtitles referred to them), about 2 weeks after I'd begun to experiment with French cuisine (see 3.137 Potage Parmentier).  Coincidence?

With many deep-pocket corporate sponsors, the program's production values are top-notch,
making it the slickest looking cooking show that Korea's ever seen.

Leo making the mandu.

Each of the 20 ingredients was covered with a lid and revealed only when properly identified.

 A contestant dissecting the mandu for visual clues.

 Minced buchu can easily be mistaken for daepa, 
both of which are common mandu ingredients
(I suspect that one was deliberately omitted).

Classic street food items, including the trinity of...



...and twigim.

Each contestant had 10 minutes to separate 10 eggs and beat them into peaks.

At the buzzer, the contestants had to hold the bowls over their heads for 10 seconds 
to see whether they'd achieved the objective.



  1. I've been watching this show on and off. I did not care for that egg white beating challenge. it's unfair to make that an elimination challenge. it was more physical than culinary.

    you see the burgers for kids challenge? both of those burgers looked terrible.

  2. i saw the burger challenge but can't really remember anything about it. but now that i think about it, it's kind of a dumb concept. i know a thing or two about cooking for a young kid, and what i know is that they like things really simple: bun, patty, ketchup. if you want to please a young audience, that's the way to go. i'll bet the kids on the show were just voting for the least weird of the two.

    about the egg white challenge, i TOTALLY concur. not only was it physical (the only 3 who couldn't do it first time were women), but it seemed way to euro-french. i mean, i realize that Master Chef would want to be more than just about korean food, but it seemed out of nowhere to require the contestants to do a technique that really isn't used that much outside of baking, french baking especially. and who really does it by hand these days anyway? for an elimination challenge, i thought it was lame.

    actually, i took those photos thinking that i'd someday like to try the challenge myself and post on it here. i just need to figure out what i'd do with 10 beaten egg whites. out of curiosity, i tried it once by hand with 3 egg whites (for waffles), and it was really hard. having done it, i swore that i'd use an electric beater next time, if ever.

  3. i also think that onion slicing and mandu ingredient identification were also stupid elimination challenges. it should be about cooking itself, not ancillary skills!

  4. MC Korea is running concurrently to MC America, but the MC America elimination challenges ALWAYS come down to cooking contests! Ridiculous. I could see the onion slicing and mandu ingredient ID as 'weeding-out' contests or for prizes or perks, though.

  5. i think they're interesting as challenges per se--like for prizes/perks, as u said, or maybe even immunity--but totally wrong as the basis for elimination.

    they did the onion slicing on MC America 1 as the initial "weeding out," but even then i thought it was bogus. i don't agree that knife skills are necessary to make an amateur "master chef." and i say that knowing 1000% that i could pass the test with my eyes closed. i've learned to do through years of practice, just because it's fun. but really, as a home cook, one never needs to slice that many onions to that degree of precision in such a short period of time.

  6. I remember that challenge from Season 1! I was laughing so hard at the people who had to keep chopping onions. They looked completely miserable. But don't you think GR made them keep chopping because he wanted to see their true character? I mean, if you can't chop an onion perfectly it's okay, but if you keep at it and push forward then that's a testament to hard work.

    And it's so much easier to just stick the onion in a food pro and have it be done in a matter of seconds. I agree that a home cook will never have to do that much prep work on onions, though.

  7. i can't recall what GR said during that challenge, but here the main judge made it clear that neither speed nor quantity was an issue. some people he let off the hook right away, and others he made them keep going for up to 2 hours--all to see both skill and/or determination.

    not bragging here, but i prefer doing all my veggies by hand, which gives me more control over the outcome and frankly is ultimately quicker (than having to take out the machine and hook it up and attach the blade and clean it up and put it back). i suppose it'd be different if i had to cook something that required major painstaking work for a huge group of people, like, say, salsa for 20. but when it's just 4-6 people at most....

    i always use the processor/blender for making: bread crumbs, ground meat, smoothies, emulsions. i'd probably use it for dough and stiffing egg whites if i made them more often.