We all love cooking shows and wonder about the secrets behind them. One of our favorites has to be the Food Network show Chopped. Each episode tasks chefs with creating an appetizer, entree, or dessert with the four ingredients in a “mystery basket.” And more often than not, those ingredients are pretty strange. As Chopped host Ted Allen notes in an interview with The Daily Meal, “The game is designed to trip you up.” And no part of the show better exemplifies that goal than the mystery basket — and all of the weird ingredients it holds.
Food Republic reports according to Allen, Food Network staff plans the baskets for an entire season at a time. “That’s three baskets a day, times four ingredients, times 39 episodes; and all the baskets have a riddle inside them. It’s hard work. And finding things we haven’t already used is harder and harder.”
Curious about the weirdest ingredients that have appeared on Chopped? We’ve collected 25 of the strangest, grossest, and most unusual mystery basket ingredients.
1. Dried fermented scallops
Allen told The Daily Meal the show had just filmed an episode that featured dried fermented scallops. “A lot of people didn’t know what to do with them,” he explained. “It’s a great ingredient for umami, but a strong flavor, so you don’t want to use a lot of it.”
Umami, for those who need a refresher, refers to one of the five basic tastes. The others are sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness.