Food Wars! Cross-Country Cooking Challenge
Wednesday. 8:40pm Eastern, 5:40pm Pacific. I stared down at my phone with anticipation. About 2440 miles away, Elie was doing the same. The challenge was about to begin.
Let’s backtrack a bit. Elie and I had been watching Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma together over FaceTime. Usually, I am the one to recommend an anime, but Elie—avid foodie that she is—was the one who brought this show to my attention. So, we turned on Netflix (note that while I tend to watch anime subbed, Elie prefers dubbed so that is the version we watched). Needless to say, we were not prepared for the foodgasms. After a serious “WTF‽” moment, we ultimately decided to create a drinking game and keep watching. We ended up genuinely enjoying the show to the point that we hunted for dubbed versions of the later seasons. Unfortunately, season 5 isn’t dubbed yet, but we did manage to watch seasons 3 and 4.
Eventually we decided to have a little Food War of our own. Here’s how it went.
Step 1: Characters
The first step of our Food War was to select 5 characters for each of us. They were chosen based on one of two factors: (1) the characters we are most like, and (2) the characters we would be most compatible with. This is something that we tend to do anyway, so it didn’t take too long. Here are the results:
Step 2: Rules
Look through the dishes made by each other’s characters on the Shokugeki no Soma Wiki. That’s a combined 107 possibilities (though more than half of those are Sōma’s)!
Pick 2 possible recipes for the other person to choose from by the Wednesday before Challenge Day. So, I chose 2 possible recipes for Elie, and she chose 2 for me. We had to present them to each other on Wednesday and select which recipe we would be cooking right then and there.
We could not pick recipes with ingredients that would be too expensive or difficult to find. While this was meant to be a challenge, it should still be feasible.
These dishes were taken off the table:
Sōma Yukihira’s Apple Risotto—we made this together already
Sōma Yukihira’s Transforming Furikake Gohan—we plan to make this another time
Sōma Yukihira’s Gotcha Pork Roast—we plan to make this another time
Both Team Saiba’s and Team Dōjima’s versions of Hachis Parmentier—we wanted to do a separate battle with this
It was encouraged to modify the recipe as needed or as desired. We wanted to make these dishes our own while staying true to the show.
We would then FaceTime while cooking and eating on Saturday. There are no prizes or winners—we can’t exactly taste each other’s food from opposite ends of the country. This was just a fun challenge for us to do together.
Step 3: Dishes
And now, we are back to Wednesday. 8:40pm Eastern, 5:40pm Pacific. I present Elie her two choices first. Option 1 is Akira Hayama’s Naan Pot Pie Curry, which he made during the Autumn Election. Option 2 is Kojirō Shinomiya’s Quiche De Légumes Oubliés, which he made during Sōma's Stagiaire. She chooses…
Naan Pot Pie Curry
Then it’s my turn. “So you know how you picked curry pot pie for me,” Elie types, and I knew immediately which dish she was going to type next: Isami Aldini’s Curry Bread Calzone, which he also made during the Autumn Election. My other choice is Satoshi Isshiki’s Pepper Mackerel with a Purée Garnish, which he made to welcome (and unofficially challenge) Sōma to the dorm. Both are dishes I would love to make, but I ultimately chose to “flex my Italian muscles” and break in my new mezzaluna with the…
Curry Bread Calzone
Step 4: Recipe
As an extra challenge, both of our chosen recipes’ Wiki pages only included the ingredients list. No measurements, no instructions. Upon reviewing the page for the Curry Bread Calzone, I found even that was sparse:
That’s it. The only additional information was that the sauce is solely made from tomato juice.
I had to come up with something myself while staying true to Isami’s creation. I looked at a couple recipes for inspiration, such as this one from Onion Chopping Ninja Chef and this one from Erica Jackson. I also researched how to make Karē Pan (Japanese Curry Bread) and utilized my prior knowledge from making calzones with my family.
I wanted to create a calzone filling that was a blend of Japanese curry and Italian sauce. This is my recette:
pizza dough, homemade or store bought
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
6 cubes (½ box) Japanese curry roux
I used Vermont Curry Medium Hot
⅛ cup red wine
⅛ cup sake
fresh mozzarella, grated
8 oz cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil
½ Tbsp onion powder, or ½ medium onion
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp nutmeg
⅛ tsp clove
(optional) pinch turmeric
salt & pepper to taste
(optional) pecorino romano to taste
Step 5: Food War
Saturday. 5:40pm ET/2:40pm PT (Why do we always start at :40? It’s not planned). It was a “battle” of the uniquely packaged curries. On the West coast, a fishy South Asian creation tucked into a pot pie; on the East coast, a vegetarian Japanese-Italian fusion stuffed into a calzone. Let the cross-country cooking challenge begin!
Scroll through the gallery to see how it went:
Elie greatly deviated from Akira’s original recipe. She used puff pastry instead of a naan crust (“Because I don’t have to spend most of my time f—ing with making naan for the first time” –Elie). Additionally, a friend recommended that she use a recipe for Pondicherry fish curry to create the pot pie filling. She tried to use sea bass, but after spending 1½ hours pulling bones out of the fish—and cursing like a sailor the whole time—she gave up on using the whole filet and just increased the vegetables to fish ratio. While her first attempt at making Indian curry could have been disastrous ("I will be forever bummed at how mangled that beautiful piece of sea bass was on my cutting board" –Elie), she was quite pleased with the end result. The flavor was good and it had just the right amount of spice, keeping it “on brand” for an Akira Hayama dish.
I channeled the Aldini brothers and broke out my new mezzaluna to make my calzone filling! (No, I wasn’t inspired by the show to get one, I don’t know what you’re talking about…👀) It took some time adjusting to the rocking motion of the blade, but I was able to get the hang of it pretty quickly. I was pleased with the depth of flavor in my curry-sauce (karē-sauce?), but I ran into some issues with my pizza dough—I took it out way too early and it over-proved. Luckily I had a backup in the freezer, but I had to wait for it to defrost. The edges weren’t as pretty as I would have liked, and they looked flatter than usual (likely due to the filling), but I was ultimately very satisfied with my interpretation of Isami Aldini’s dish. Not bad for my first solo-made calzones! Plus, I had plenty of the curry-sauce left over, so I was able to freeze it to use later.
We didn’t have any judges and weren’t able to taste each other’s food, so this really wasn’t a true “food war”. That said, it was still an insanely fun experience. I cannot wait to try more Food Wars dishes and have more cooking challenges. Buon appetito!
You can watch Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, or Crunchyroll.
Note: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma was written by Yūto Tsukuda and illustrated by Shun Saeki. It was first serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump and adapted into an anime by J.C. Staff. All series-related images, logos, and GIFs used in this post are credited to them and were found on shokugekinosoma.fandom.com.