MasterChef Australia: What Is A Flavour Bomb? Ottolenghi’s Secret Weapon Explained

On Monday night, celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi set the first team challenge of the season and it was all about the F-Bomb.

With the contestants divided into three teams, Ottolenghi explained that the challenge was all about flavour bombs, something he’s been championing ever since his groundbreaking cookbook Simple became a worldwide bestseller.

Each team would have 60 minutes to create a three-course meal, with each course featuring one of Ottolenghi’s three flavour bombs: numbing oil, fenugreek marinade, and chipotle peanuts.

Yotam Ottolenghi flavour bomb masterchef australia challenge 2021 vegetables
Ottolenghi returns to the MasterChef kitchen for the first team challenge of the season.

Ottolenghi’s philosophy has always been about how to pack as much flavour into dishes as possible, and in this team challenge, the contestants would need to prove they could utilise his “flavour bombs” in a way that showcased balance and technique without being overpowered.

Flavour is so important to Ottolenghi that his 2020 cookbook, co-written by Ixta Belfrage, was simply titled FLAVOUR.

So what exactly is a flavour bomb? It’s exactly what it sounds like, an ingredient that packs a wallop of flavour; oils, butter, sauces, dressings, nuts, marinades, anything that can be added to a variety of dishes that will bring out the best in even the most unadorned dishes.

In 2018’s cookbook SIMPLE, Ottolenghi outlined ten of his favourite flavour bombs allowing him to keep the total number of ingredients in a recipe to a minimum but knowing that the impact of each would be the greatest due to the rich, bold punch each would add.

From black garlic to rose harissa, Za’atar to pomegranate molasses, Ottolenghi’s low effort/high reward approach to flavour bombs can see even the most humble veggies transfigured into the most elegant version of themselves.

Not only did the contestants have to work as a team to plate up three courses utilising the three flavour bombs provided, but they had to do so in a tag-team format. Half the team would start the challenge and, halfway through the cook, the second half would take over to finish off the dishes that their teammates had started.

Ottolenghi’s vegetable-forward recipes, heavily influenced by Middle Eastern ingredients, have taken the world by storm, and the renowned chef showed the contestants exactly why as he calmly cooked his own three courses during the challenge.

At the end of the challenge, Ottolenghi plated up pot-sticker tofu dumplings topped with numbing oil, prawns cooked in the fenugreek marinade, and a tapioca pudding paired with the chipotle peanuts.

Unfortunately for Pete, Tom, Linda, Dan, Katrina, Therese, and Aaron, their courses were the least impressive to the judges, meaning the seven of them would face an elimination cook on Tuesday.

Watch the new season of MasterChef Australia, Sunday to Thursday at 7.30 on 10 or watch on demand on 10 play