First, Jo Minjoon poured some sesame oil in the rice, and mixed the gochujang(고추장) and doenjang on a 1-1 ratio and mixed it with the rice. Normally, what differentiated korean bibimbap was this process. To already have mixed the sauce with the rice, or to present it separately. At times, the sauce was used as garnish.
There was a reason Jo Minjoon mixed the sauce beforehand. The first was because this was a mission. To let the judges to do the seasoning as they pleased, he didn’t know what kinds of words they would tell them. And basically, Jo Minjoon didn’t really like to present gochujang or sesame oil separately in a korean dish. Because he thought that a chef from a restaurant was the one who had to complete the dish with his own hands. If it was completed by the hands of the customer, then it was pointless. That was Jo Minjoon’s way of thinking.
Secondly, it was because of the cleanliness. There were many cases where the vegetables or the meat that were used as garnish would rip and crumple when you mixed the sauce. That sight was one that made you not want to eat it.
After placing the steaming bibimbap in a small plate, Jo Minjoon placed the entire plate in a bigger and flatter one. Near the round plate bibimbap, were various garnishes placed as flower petals. And placing the yolk on top of the rice, was the end. Jo Minjoon looked at the bibimbap.
Origins: (Too many ingredients to show)
Quality: High (Average ingredients)
Cooking score: 6/10
6 points. It was as expected. Jo Minjoon didn’t get shaken and looked at the time. 17 minutes. It was enough to make the gamjajeon.
Jo Minjoon grabbed some potatoes and started to grate them. He put the potatoes in a sieve to take off the moisture and sliced some chives and red chili. The reason he couldn’t call this a temple dish.
God’s five vegetables (오신채). Chives, korean wild chives, green onions, garlic and heunggo (흥거). These five vegetables were prohibited from being eaten in temples. And he had already used two of them. Garlic was used in the miyeokguk, and the chives was used in the gamjajeon. But of course, the theme wasn’t even temple cooking, so there was no need to pay it any heed. What was important right now was the flavor and the nutrients.
Jo Minjoon put flour on the grated potatoes, and mixed after putting in the chives and the red chili. And then, brought it to the hot frying pan. He had to use a small amount of cooking oil. If he put too much, not only the edges, but also the center would be burnt like like a cookie and losing all of it’s stickiness.
But because of that, he couldn’t put in too little. Because the gamjajeon could stick to the pan and the shape would break.
Fortunately, Jo Minjoon cooked it better than ever.
Origins: (Too many ingredients to show)
Quality: High (Average ingredients)
Cooking score: 6/10
6 points. Jo Minjoon’s eyes twitched. He didn’t even have 2 minutes left. He served the miyeokguk in a bowl. Westerners weren’t really familiar with ingredients like seaweed, but they wouldn’t be able to not eat it being a judge in a cooking program and such. Also, he added perilla seeds powder at the last minute just in case. Of course, perilla was also an ingredient westerners weren’t familiar with, but it could save the flavor of miyeokguk a little.
Jo Minjoon placed the plates on the tray. Perilla miyeokguk, chives gamjajeon, cabbage roll, and bibimbap.
An unexpected thing happened at that time. The state windows that were over the plates flinched, and a bigger and clear window appeared over it. Jo Minjoon looked at that situation dumbfoundedly. Soon, another window popped up in front of his eyes.
[You made a harmonious korean table meal. It’s composition belongs to a certain theme.]
[A new function that let’s you evaluate multiple dishes at a time ‘composition score’ has been added.]
[The skill ‘comprehension towards korean cuisine’ mastery has increased.]
[Will you check the score of the composition?]
Yes / No
Jo Minjoon still looked at it perplexed. It was at that moment. A new window appeared before him.
[Jo Minjoon’s vegan korean meal.]
List: Bibimbap, perilla miyeokguk, cabbage roll, chives gamjajeon.
Average cooking score: 6/10
Composition score: 7/10
Evaluation: It’s a meal made for the vegans. It’s characterized for it’s graceful plating and clean flavor. So it’s a good meal to have without any burdens.
Jo Minjoon’s eyes twitched. A new function appeared. Even before any emotions could surge up, the buzzer rang along Alan’s voice.
“Everybody hands off! The time is over!”
Alan looked at everybody expressionlessly. Jo Minjoon gulped. The dice has been rolled. Could this meal that was made by his own colours move the judges hearts? Jo Minjoon checked his surroundings. He saw various and different dishes. Ratatouille, lasagna, Cuba sandwich, etc.
Thump. He felt it clearly that was heart was beating. Jo Minjoon licked his lips. Even if he didn’t do that, he couldn’t do anything about his nervousness. The reason he could stay calm and composed when he was being evaluated was because of the faith he had in the cooking score. However, he got to know that the cooking score wasn’t an absolute thing. And right now, the score of these dishes was only 6 points.
What he could trust in right now was only in himself. Perhaps, this could be the first time that he had been evaluated properly.
Jo Minjoon looked nervously at Alan. When he thought that he had made eye contact with him, Alan opened his mouth and said.
“We will start the evaluation. Starting from the front lines.”
Jo Minjoon was at the second line. The two that were in front of him walked towards the judges with their dishes on their hands. One of those two was Chloe. Jo Minjoon was closely looking at Chloe’s dish. Cooking score of 8. It was the best Chloe could get.
Chloe’s dish was fried wheat noodles that was accompanied with bok choy and bamboo shoots mixed. The light brown sauce seemed to be made with soy sauce and citron and was beneath the noodles, and she placed a half fried egg in the middle of it as decoration. Because of these many reasons, it could only seem delicious.
It seemed a rather easy dish to make, but it was quite difficult. Frying the egg and not cooking the yolk entirely was also skill, and only the fact that it was a fried wheat noodle dish made it difficult to make. She had to fry the noodle sufficiently for it to not get burnt, and at the same time, it had to be sticky. If she made a slight mistake, then that dish wouldn’t even be considered as food, but as trash.
Alan lifted his fork and split the egg. The thin fried coat separated with the egg white, and on top of that, the watery yolk flowed like orange syrup. It even made the participants that were looking, gulp. Even Chloe was like that. It was a long time that she had felt something she had made to be this delicious.
Alan soaked the noodles and the bok choy in the yolk and put it in his mouth. The first thing that spread in his mouth was the citron and soy sauce flavor. The citron’s strong flavor made so as the soy sauce’s salty flavor was spread faster. When he chewed the bok choy, the citron’s aroma was half gone. And what replaced it was the fresh flavor of the bok choy. The noodles that were between the leaves of the bok choy were transmitting the oily flavor along with the yolk.
Beautiful? No, it wasn’t a flavor that could be described with that soft word. It was full of charisma. It was a primitive and provocative flavor that great generals before a war would eat. Alan desperately tried to stay calm. And it was the same for the two judges besides him. Alan opened his mouth first.
“Chloe. I ate well.”
Chloe didn’t reply and just laughed awkwardly. It could be seen that she was nervous. Alan asked calmly.
“Is this your first time making this dish?”
“No. It’s a dish that my mom used to make me all the time. Although the half done fried yolk was implemented by me. My mom just put in half done yolk.”
“……Your mother is surely someone who has a deep understanding in cooking.”
“Of course. Until now, I have never eaten a dish more deliciously than my mother’s.”
“So, do you think that you have made the recipe of your mother well?”
At those words, Chloe hesitated. She talked unconfidently.
“Mmm….. I already told you that this recipe is my mother’s? And you said that my mother had a deep understanding in cooking after trying it. Then that means that you think that my dish was good…. No, at least, it is so for my recipe. And to view well a recipe, then you have to do the same for the dish……”
At the words that were getting longer, Alan opened her mouth. Chloe, that was talking by herself, stopped and looked at Alan. She just hit the floor with her forefoot. Alan continued speaking.
“I will go straight to the point. It was a good dish Chloe. And a delicious one, it’s a good dish that made use of the advantage of the fried wheat noodle. Specially, the combination of citron and soy sauce was really good.”
“I opinion is the same. I didn’t think that I would feel this good by a dish I have tried for the first time. I ate well. It was a good dish.”
Emily continued to say after Alan. Chloe smiled brightly at Joseph. Favorable criticism from two people, more than half of them had said that it was delicious, so she was already safe from getting disqualified. Joseph smiled benevolently and said.
“I ate well Chloe. You pass.”
Chloe yelled with a voice full of happiness and went upstairs. But the good atmosphere was broken almost instantly. The participant that was next to Chloe presented a baguette sandwich that contained cucumber, tomato, cheddar and fried potato.
It was eatable, but it wasn’t anything special. From the judges expression could be clearly seen what they were thinking. The judges ate a bite of the sandwich and chewed. In mean time, it was as if it was really hard to chew, but Alan spat what he had in his mouth to the bin.
And after that, there were many things he said. It is too ordinary. I’m getting suspicions on how you survived until now. Did you think that this dish would get a good score? They said many things but the conclusion was the same.
“Jamie. You are one of the disqualifying candidates. Go back to your place.”
And next, was Jo Minjoon’s turn. Alan raised his voice.
“Jo Minjoon. Helena. Bring your dishes.”
Jo Minjoon walked towards them with the tray in his hands. The first one to be evaluated was Jo Minjoon. The judges approached him. Alan looked down at the miyeokguk.
“Is this…. Miyeokguk?”
“Yes. I put perilla seeds in it and boiled it.”
“I did eat miyeokguk before, but it’s a first with perilla seeds in it. How do I have to eat it?”
“You can do it however you want.”
“This is…. All eaten in Korea right?”
“Yes. I improved a bit the temple cuisine.”
The judges first drank the miyeokguk. Next, it was the bibimbap, and after they ate the rolls they did it too with the gamjajeon. Emily let out a sigh.
“I sympathise with you.”
Alan nodded and looked at Jo Minjoon. It was hard for Jo Minjoon to understand what was difficult. Difficult to accept the flavor? Or to evaluate? It was at that time. Joseph hesitated to speak and finally said.
“Minjoon. We will be having a discussion. Step back please.”
Jo Minjoon didn’t say a word and stepped back 5 steps. Emily whispered in a low voice.
“What are you going to do?”
“…..It was tasty.”
“It was also tasty for me. For normal people, rather than being exotic, it would not be tasty, but it was good for me.”
“It’s a well done cooking. I couldn’t come in contact with a temple cuisine, but the colours of korean cuisine were alive. But….”
Alan speaked. Emily understood why Alan was hesitating. Joseph said in a regretful voice.
“There’s no main.”
“……Yes. That’s right.”
It was as they had said. What the judges were regretting wasn’t about the score Jo Minjoon was worried about, nor the unfamiliar flavor. It was the lack of the main dish. Just that.
They could have said that the bibimbap was the main dish. But the strength of the flavor was really weak to be the main of this meal.
Alan opened his mouth.
“If it was a family meal, then it would be a perfect one with nothing else to add. The side dishes are all delicious, and the harmony between them aren’t bad at all. However….”
Alan stopped talking and let out a sigh. Maybe, if he had presented the bibimbap alone, they could have given a higher score. Because the flavor wasn’t bad, and the composition was okay.
But although he presented many dishes, he forgot about the completeness of this meal. That was the problem. Between the similar level of the dishes, there was nothing that stimulated and made your mouth happy. The flavor was really simple, and it made you feel that they protected each other’s flavor.
Of course, that meant that he had a high comprehension in all of the dishes. But…..
Alan’s gaze grew sharp. And after that, the judges started to share their arguments.
And, the conclusion has been made.
“Minjoon. Come here.”
Joseph opened his mouth. Jo Minjoon put on an uneasy face while Joseph put on a smile.
“Personally, I think that this is the most delicious dish from all of the ones you had made. But the problem isn’t the flavor. It’s the heart. Until now, the catfish meatball stew, and bream, were all delicious, but your greed could be seen clearly from them. Of course, that’s an obvious thing. If you are a participant you hope to pass, and because of that, you can just cook.”
Joseph talked until there and stopped. He looked at the judges next to him.
“I think the same thing as Emily and Alan. The dish you have made this time was really warm. It wasn’t greedy, and it showed that you wanted to make a delicious and reassuring meal. Putting it in good words, it felt like a mother preparing it. But in bad words, it wasn’t a dish from a restaurant, but a meal from our house.”
Jo Minjoon didn’t say a thing. He was only listening attentively at Joseph. Joseph let out a sigh. He seemed to take this evaluation really hard.
“That’s why I can only say sorry. Because it was a really good dish. However, we aren’t customers, but judges……And we can’t just look at your heart and judge. Minjoon.”
Joseph looked at Jo Minjoon. Jo Minjoon slowly closed his eyes. He could already guess what he was going to tell him. And that guess didn’t go off.
“I’m sorry. You are a disqualifying candidate.”
< A dish made by a chef (3) > End
Translator’s note: Regular chapter! Thanks for reading and your support! Sorry for the late chapter. I’m so wasted right now… I will post it first and translate check later.
Regulars being on: Tue, thurs, sat and sun
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled