The first thing Jo Minjoon grabbed was the cooking oil. He poured a lot of it in the pot and turned on the fire. Bringing up the heat of the oil wasn’t something that was done in an instant. You had to prepare it beforehand, and that was also true for water. Jo Minjoon put another pot next to the oiled one, put some kelp and turned on the fire.
There were four gas burners on the countertop, and Jo Minjoon was responsible for two of these. The other two were for Chloe. And for Marco didn’t need a burner.
While heating the water and oil, Jo Minjoon prepared the soft tofu quickly. He wouldn’t be late if he prepared the soy sauce and the vegetables later. If it was an ingredient that needed to be fermented, then that was another story. But for soft tofu, it was more important for it to have a neat flavor.
The size of the tofu wasn’t big. In the first place, it wasn’t good to have a big amount in an appetizer menu. Precisely speaking it wasn’t good for the overall course of the menu.
People have a tendency to see the restaurant’s dish amount and are reluctant to spend money on it. Jo Minjoon could understand them. Because, a restaurant’s price was as much as five times the normal price. But the amount of food in the plate was the size of a fist, no, the size of a thumb, so it wasn’t rare for people to complain about it. ‘Aren’t they saving too much ingredients?’ He thought.
But the restaurants didn’t put a small amount on the plate to save ingredient fees. Regret. That regret was the work of the flavor. And if you put a big amount of food, or ate many times the same food, feeling the same impression as the first time was difficult. Dishes with small amounts of food looked to impress the customers.
‘I’ll make it a bite size.’
The knife sliced the tofu softly. The flavor and the regret came only with the size of a bite. There were even restaurants that served the steak already chopped in the size of a bite.
He put the sliced tofus on top of the cotton cloth. For the soon to fry tofu to still have moisture was a great mistake. And when you buried the tofu in the dough, it had a high possibility to break. It was a must to remove the moisture of the tofu.
At the same time, it was a quite a pain of a job. If you put it over a dry cloth, the surface of the tofu would stick to it. And if you did it with a wet cloth, the moisture didn’t absorb well. He had to use a not too dry nor a wet cloth like he was doing right now. That was the best method for the soft tofu not to turn bad and remove the moisture.
Jo Minjoon grabbed the kitchen towel and covered the soft tofu with it. And after taking a breath, looked at his surroundings. Marco was making dough for the biscuit for quite a while, and Chloe was putting the sliced scallops in the steamer.
He wanted to look at Kaya’s table, but he purposely endured. It wasn’t the time to pay attention to another’s cooking. Jo Minjoon, immediately grabbed the soy. Saying the truth, soft fried tofu was from Japanese cuisine. Agedashi tofu(揚げ出し豆腐). What Jo Minjoon was making right now was an improved version of that agedashi tofu. Actually, saying that it was improved was a bit embarrassing. Because he was just using the agedashi tofu as the base and slightly changed the sauce.
Jo Minjoon turned off the boiling water and put the katsuobushi. So far, there was nothing different with the normal sauce recipe. Even putting filtered gravy in the sieve and putting a spoon of soy was the same. However, that was where Jo Minjoon’s change was. Lime juice. It wasn’t too much. The amount was so low as to make one wonder if it would fill a spoon. But that lime juice would revive the sour flavor of the agedashi tofu.
And after that, it was entirely facing victory. Jo Minjoon looked at the soft tofu sharply. The cotton cloth and the kitchen towel were already wet. It also meant that the moisture of the soft tofu got out. Jo Minjoon, after pouring starch, slowly put down the soft tofu on top. It was quite a sensitive situation. If he put a little bit of strength, the tofu would break entirely.
Fortunately, he succeeded putting it on top of the starch, but it was too early to feel relieved. Jo Minjoon even held his breath and rolled a soft tofu the size of a dice on the starch. If it was left even a little longer the starch’s stickiness and the moisture left on the tofu could break it.
Was it luck? Or was it his delicate touch? The soft tofu didn’t break and could safely wear the starch coat. Jo Minjoon caught his breath and looked at the boiling oil. The soft tofus that were being fried in the oil seemed rather cute. He wondered that he would get this feeling when looking at a newborn.
When it got a white colour, Jo Minjoon, quickly took out the soft tofu out of the oil. A voice could be heard next to him.
“Minjoon! You are doing fine, right?”
“Don’t worry. It’s perfect.”
Jo Minjoon replied simply at Marco’s question. Looking at the white fry made him satisfied. While the soft tofu was removing the oil, Jo Minjoon prepared the vegetables. For now, it was the radish. He started to grate it with the grater and put it in the soy sauce, and then sliced the green onions. That was the end.
Jo Minjoon silently observed at Marco and Chloe. He wanted to help them, but couldn’t because of the rules. Jo Minjoon endured wanting to help them and observed the cooking of the both. Now that he thought about it, it has been a while since he observed someone cooking like this. When he was working at the restaurant as the youngest, he only cut ingredients in a corner, he couldn’t see someone handling the pan that much.
Marco put the biscuit dough in the oven, and now was preparing the yogurt ice cream to put over it. Saying the truth, it wasn’t fun watching all of the baking processes.
That was the reason Jo Minjoon started to observe Chloe. She was shaking the scallions, vegetables and a red sauce in the wok. At times, flames arose. On the countertop, there were a total of nine dishes being cooked, but Chloe’s pan fried scallions aroma was particularly strong.
‘Perhaps it would be able to get 8 points.’
It wasn’t impossible getting that kind of thought. At least, it’s appearance and the aroma seemed almost perfect.
And after some time passed, Jo Minjoon could tell that he wasn’t wrong. Jo Minjoon looked with a face that had nothing more to admire at Chloe’s dish.
[Pan fried scallions]
Origins: (Too many ingredients to know)
Quality: High (Average ingredients)
Cooking score: 8/10
It was the first time he had seen an 8 point dish after Kaya’s grilled eel. Jo Minjoon could feel his mouth watering. Even admiration voices could be heard from the participants on the 2nd floor. He, who was observing right next to Chloe, could tell that it was no ordinary dish. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“Don’t you need to taste it?”
“I don’t…… Do you want to eat?”
Chloe looked mockingly. Jo Minjoon couldn’t even feel that he was being mocked and nodded. That was just how charming her dish was. Chloe used chopsticks to put a scallop and bok choy in a steel spoon. And then held it out to Jo Minjoon.
It’s appearance was perfect. The scallop that was fried with a red chilli oil could be seen that it had knife marks on it, and the green colour of the bok choy seemed to make the scallops fierceness more humble.
And even after it entered his mouth, it was the same. From the spaces between the knife markings on the scallion, could be seen some oyster sauce and chili oil and it’s flavor was tasty and heavy. Usually Jo Minjoon didn’t like the combination of salty and sweet flavor. But even he couldn’t help but be amazed. The scallops had a sea aroma left, but it was suitable. It didn’t smell fishy and it contained a beautiful flavor inside it.
And the bok choy wasn’t placed just because so. The leaves stimulated a soft feeling to the tongue, and each time he chewed the crunchy stem, the unique and clean juice flowed out and washed his mouth. The strong flavor of the pan fried scallops was being eased with just one bok choy leaf. It even made him amazed.
So at the same time, Jo Minjoon couldn’t help but be surprised. If she had lost to Kaya it was understandable. But when there were at least 10 participants left and the winner was almost confirmed, Chloe wasn’t on that place in Jo Minjoon’s memories.
‘What could have happened……?’
It was a problem he didn’t have to think right now. Even if he thought about it he wouldn’t get any answers. So Jo Minjoon turned his head to look at the soft tofu. For now, the oil should have drained. The given time was almost over. He had to start moving the soft tofu to the sauce.
Soft fried tofu. Precisely speaking, while finishing the agedashi tofu, Jo Minjoon felt something he didn’t know. At first, he thought it was the scallop he had eaten, but it wasn’t. And that feeling soon appeared before him.
Origins: (Too many ingredients to know)
Quality: High(Average ingredients)
Cooking Score: 7/10
7 points. Usually, he thought that it was good enough. He thought that it was a relatively safe score. However looking at that score, he didn’t feel as satisfied as usual. He remembered Kaya’s eel. And also remembered the scallop he had just eaten.
Jo Minjoon lifted a spoon and put a soft fried tofu in his mouth. It was good. The feeling of it touching the tongue, the oily flavor of the fried coat, and beyond that was the bland flavor of the tofu. However, he wasn’t satisfied.
Was the flavor lacking? Or could it be because of the score before him.
If he didn’t see the score, would he be satisfied?
< Three dishes and one meal (2) > End
Translator’s note: Don’t forget to check the glossary!
Translators note: Don’t forget to check the glossary! Thanks for reading and for your support! Regular of the week.
Regular chapters on tues, thurs, sat, and sun!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled