7 points. That was also the best he could do right now. However Jo Minjoon didn’t relax. Because making a 7 points dish was the utmost of his skills. He got that score because of the strength of the system. To check the recipe beforehand and it’s success probabilities.
If he didn’t have the systems strength, Jo Minjoon would be making a lot of 5 points dishes. Because you couldn’t be certain if a recipe was good or not before cooking. It was already god’s blessing and consideration for letting him free of worries for his recipes.
Of course, compared to Kaya he didn’t know if it was a blessing. However she was a real genius. She didn’t have a weird ability like Jo Minjoon, she had real skills. Saying that the both had the same abilities was something to be embarrassed about.
He thought that comparing himself with Kaya was a really childish thing. Jo Minjoon was a reasonable person. If he felt bitter but only hurt him, he believed that he didn’t have the need to think about it. Being jealous of an ability he didn’t have was a really childish thing to do.
“We’ll give you 1 hour. Finish your dish in that time.”
At those words, the participants gathered towards the container. Watching those many competitors going to the container was really a sight. Marco and Amanda were running there. Jo Minjoon just stood still and looked at them. Anyways, he was given an hour. So he thought that it wasn’t necessary to immediately handle the catfish.
He thought like that and went towards the room where the basic ingredients were. It was at that moment, Kaya was walking right next to him. He slightly glanced at her. She looked back at Jo Minjoon with a scary face and then opened her mouth.
“What are you looking at?”
“I doesn’t look like you are going to catch a catfish.”
“Even if I go now or later it’s the same. But it’s better to get other ingredients instead of being clustered over there.”
“You are also doing that. Aren’t you self praising yourself by praising me?”
Jo Minjoon laughed and evaded the question. There were quite a few who were going to get fresh ingredients. Among them, was a tall and handsome blonde man. Anderson….. Jo Minjoon thought for a moment. What was his last name? He didn’t remember. He remembered one thing. That he got the second place.
Jo Minjoon looked at Anderson’s status window. The window showed the last name he didn’t remember.
Cooking level: 7
Bakery level: 7
Tasting level: 8
Decoration level: 7
His cooking level was the same as Kaya’s. But unexpectedly, his bakery and decorations level were higher than Kaya’s. It could be expected. Anderson Rousseau was an elite of the elites who got a genius like education since small. It was kind of obvious for him to be at that level. However, he lost to Kaya. Why could that be? Because he didn’t have a dramatic background like her?
‘Probably, her dish was better than his.’
Even if they were at the same level 7, Kaya’s skills were different. Because his cooking levels probably didn’t include reading fire like Kaya. However Jo Minjoon knew that, reading the path of the fire wasn’t all of Kaya. A genius like sense which surpassed all of that. He couldn’t precisely express it like that , but she had an ability to bring the flavor of an ingredient to it’s utmost.
Jo Minjoon hurriedly picked his ingredients. Those were all ingredients bought in the same place and at the same time, but there were differences among them. It was more efficient to be picking better ingredients than to be picking alive cat fishes of the same quality in that crowd.
The dish Jo Minjoon decided to make was catfish meatball stew(메기완자탕). At first, he wanted to make some spicy stew(매운탕), but it depended heavily on miso paste and pepper paste. Even if it tasted good, how good would it be in a foreign country? It was weak regarding to giving a deep flavor. On top of that, spicy stew was tasty only for koreans. The chances for a foreigner to claim that it tasted bad was high.
So Jo Minjoon took the characteristic of the spicy stew, and decided to make a slightly spicy catfish meatball stew. And the ingredients it contained were simple. Tofu, lemon, starch, eggs, pepper, coriander, radish, scallion, salt and soy sauce.
They were ingredients that were normally in people’s houses. And if you wanted to point something special, it was the coriander. There were many who sought top ingredients like saffron or salami, but Jo Minjoon didn’t pay them any heed. Making a dish with basic ingredients and give it flavor was rather well viewed.
Jo Minjoon put the ingredients on his countertop and went to where the catfish were. Almost all of the people were returning with a catfish on their hands. Saying the truth, it was his first time catching a live fish with his bare hands, but he was confident.
Jo Minjoon caught a catfish with a net and came back to his countertop with the fish on his hands. It was 40cm long. It was roughly an arm long. It was so strong that only preventing it from escaping was exhausting enough.
The way to knock out the catfish was simple. To beat it with the edge of the countertop, or simmer it in salt, or beating it with the knife’s back. Jo Minjoon chose the last option. When the catfish that was on top of the counter looked at Jo Minjoon, he beat it with the back of the knife.
With a loud sound, the catfish twitched a little and finally stopped moving. It was probably knocked. Jo Minjoon put the tip of his knife on the catfish. Blood flowed for a while, and that was the end.
Jo Minjoon cautiously cut the gills. And used the knife to slice it’s stomach,pulled out the guts and took out the fishbone. After that was the skin. He didn’t need to remove the scales, because catfishes didn’t have them. But because of that, it’s skin was really tough. If you cooked it well, the skin became gooey. But the problem was that cooking it well was difficult.
Jo Minjoon slowly peeled the skin off. The main point was to peel the skin as thinly as possible. Fortunately, it peeled off quite thinly.
It was at that moment. Alan passed by Jo Minjoon. It seemed as if he was just looking around, but he wasn’t. The table next to him. Alan said coldly in front of Amanda.
“The guts erupted.”
It was a mistake she made while slicing the stomach. As the guts erupted, blood stained the meat. Amanda replied with an embarrassed face.
“Ah, I’m sorry. It’s my first time with catfish….”
“Enough. Give me your badge.”
Amanda was pale. Jo Minjoon didn’t want to pay attention to them, but he couldn’t block of their voices. Alan was talking with a conservative tone.
“You have done well.”
It was a brief word, and it was also a brief declaration. Amanda put a face as if she was going to cry any moment and yelled.
“I….. I bet everything in this competition!”
Even with that begging voice, Alan didn’t hesitate. He looked slowly at the participants. He opened his mouth.
“Is there someone who didn’t bet everything in this competition?”
No one replied at that question. Alan looked at Amanda and his gaze grew sharp.
“If you want me to give you my opinion, then show me your skills as much as your passion. What I can see right now from you is a broken catfish corpse. I wouldn’t like to put that thing in my mouth. Amanda. Are you a chef? If that’s so, give me that trashy badge! That’s only if you are a chef that puts trash in people’s mouths.”
Amanda returned the badge trembling. Alan received that badge, and looked towards the participants that were looking at him. And said with a calm voice.
“Anyone who has a problem handling the catfish will be kicked out. This is not a school. People who can’t even handle a single ingredient doesn’t have the right to be here. Get ahold of yourselves.”
They grew nervous. It wasn’t only Jo Minjoon. Knowing that they could get eliminated just preparing your dish, the participants continued with a clearer gaze. Jo Minjoon looked at the back of Amanda crying and getting out. He could never end like that. Ever. Even if he got disqualified because his dish tasted bad, at least he wanted to finish his dish.
He didn’t waste time. The first thing Jo Minjoon did was cutting the catfish head. Jo Minjoon boiled water on a pot and put the catfish head, radish, and scallions. And he also put the fishbone. He was thinking of making the gravy. He put some lemon in case it had a fishy smell, and started to handle the catfish meat.
Every time he hit it with the back of his knife, it transformed like fish cake. Originally, it’s meat was already soft. So it wasn’t that hard to mince it. The next step was simple. After squeezing the water out of the tofu, sliced the coriander. The next step was mixing it together, adding starch and slamming the dough.
This part was really important. If he didn’t slam enough to create enough stickiness, in the process the dough is getting cooked, the probabilities of it’s insides breaking were high. For the usual Jo Minjoon, it would be a really hard challenge. Because it wasn’t that it didn’t have chances for failure.
However he wasn’t right now. Jo Minjoon already knew that the theme of the mission would be catfish, and after qualifying, he got to prepare the next dish. For all the meals, he prepared catfish meatball stew, and each time he cooked it he felt a difference on the dishes. What he was making right now was the result of hard work. There was no place for mistakes.
< The 100 chefs (2) > End
Translator’s note: Regular chapter of the week! Regulars being on tues, thurs, sat and sun!
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Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled