Iron Chef America – A Call for Salt as a Secret Ingredient
Posted August 3rd, 2010 by Chris
Filed under: news, salt, television
Iron Chef is the wildly popular show on the Food Network, and I doubt it needs any introduction to those reading this blog. I remember first watching the Japanese version with English language dubbing in the 90′s. Over the course of two decades of cable television re-runs, I think I probably saw every episode ever aired in the US. If you have never seen the Japanese version, you owe it to yourself since it is classically hilarious – check out this YouTube clip of one of the episodes.
In January 2005, the Food Network starting airing a revamp of Iron Chef with Alton Brown as color commentator (get it?!) titled appropriately “Iron Chef America”. My DVR knows the show well as it is a staple of the Sunday night television ritual. I think my favorite concept of the Japanese version, and now the US show, is the secret ingredient. This ingredient, for which the show revolves, is dramatically unveiled from a smoke filled, culinary-altar in the opening of each episode, and can range from Chestnuts to Skirt Steak.
As an example of how the Internet and the information gathering prowess of its users never ceases to amaze, here is a wonderful compiled list of all of the ingredients ever to appear on the Iron Chef shows (both Japanese and US version). Notice something missing? Seriously, where is salt? I mean, even Snail has been on the show twice. Eggplant, three times. Heck, even “Dry Ligament” got to bask in the Iron Chef secret ingredient sun (yes, that was on the Japanese version, but still)!
I know what you are thinking – salt ain’t an ingredient. Well first, I would say (to your face) you are very misguided and should seek culinary help immediately. Certainly salt is an ingredient. Perhaps even the most important ingredient. I refuse to be cliche by pulling out the dictionary definition of ingredient, but certainly it is as much of an ingredient in cooking as sugar, honey or chocolate. Just because it is part of most of the foods we prepare, does not make it any less critical to the final outcome that lands on our plate. And look at the list of previous ingredients that have been featured on Iron Chef – sugar, honey and chocolate have all been secret ingredients in the past along with milk, ginger and curry powder. Curry powder! Certainly salt is as much of an ingredient as curry powder!
For further precedent in making salt a Secret Ingredient on Iron Chef America, Alton Brown even did a special Good Eats episode that focused entirely on the magical mineral. And better yet, just think of all the amazing things chef’s could do with salt as a Secret Ingredient – brines, pickling, salt bakes, and even ice cream. Plus, I can imagine the Secret Ingredient altar on Iron Chef being filled with unrefined sea salts and blends from around the world – pushing the chef’s to really use this ingredient in creative ways based on its distinctive qualities.
My final argument for why salt is the perfect candidate as a Secret Ingredient on Iron Chef America is that salt itself is big news right now. We have written about it several times, but all the media attention proves how timely a “Battle Salt” would be – especially since lowering sodium intake is so linked to preparing foods ourselves which is a hallmark message of the Food Network.
Come Iron Chef! Nothing against curry powder, but doesn’t salt deserve the chance to be a Secret Ingredient? We certainly think so!