Yesterday, when we left the battle between new Park Slope barbecue joint Biscuit and batter-happy neighbor ChipShop to determine whether our off-the-menu requests tasted better smoked or fried, the competition was neck and neck: ChipShop's owner Chris Sell impressed judge Gabrielle Langholtz of Edible Brooklyn with his fried PB&J; "My brain stem is like, 'Gorge on the fat while you can'" but Biscuit's owner Josh Cohen bounced back when onetime Iron Chef judge Ben Schmerler lauded his smoked ribs as "savory and primal." Who, then, will take the next two rounds?
Challenge No. 3: Tuna Roll
Judge Gabrielle: The texture of the rice is like it's been in my refrigerator for three weeks. I can't taste any smoke. It completely sacrifices the rice texture without any gain. Thumbs down.
Judge Ben: I agree.
Chef Josh: We cold-smoked this for about twenty minutes. The sushi and the cod were put in a perforated two-inch hotel pan that was placed in a four-inch hotel pan that was filled with ice. We used hickory-applewood sawdust. It's difficult — the rice is going to lose the moisture [when smoked], and there's no way to rehydrate it.
Judge Gabrielle: Sushi is owed an explanation and apology by both of these methods. But the smoked sushi is more egregious the fried sushi at least looks unusual.
Judge Ben: I really don't like this. I'm getting a fatty creaminess that's really blah in my mouth. It's your nightmare carb experience.
Chef Chris: When I pulled it out of the fryer, I thought, This is going to be foul!
Challenge No. 4: Cod
Judge Gabrielle: This a classic.
Judge Ben: This is the first time the thumb emerges it has risen. This is easily the best. In fact, the best fish and chips I've ever had is at the Atlantic Avenue ChipShop.
Chef Chris: We use soy-bean salad oil, which is cholesterol and trans-fat free. It's cheaper than Frymax, purer, cleaner, and leaves less of a taste in the food.
Judge Gabrielle: Again, where's the smoke? This has way too much sugar and salt for me. I buy smoked trout almost every Wednesday at Union Square and that's got sugar in the brine as well, but here all I can taste is the brine.
Judge Ben: The texture is a little rubbery. Cookshop's great house-smoked fish doesn't have that rubbery taste.
Chef Josh: We had to be real careful we cured these for a couple of hours before smoking them to avoid flakiness.
Tomorrow: The grand finale (it only gets better, folks) smoked rice pudding and fried White Castles.