When they got back to the kitchen, it had the same awkward atmosphere as the garden. It could only be like that regardless of the mission. Because if it wasn’t a mission which they were proficient in like steak, it was difficult for them.
However, Joseph’s theme had an easier point compared to Alan’s.
“You are paella?”
Jo Minjoon asked with a hopeless face. Chloe nodded and replied.
“Yes. I was also surprised. I never thought that a spanish dish would appear.”
After she talked like that, she let out a sigh. However Jo Minjoon was rather envious of her. Because at least, you could make paella without cheese.
He did make risotto at times, but it didn’t suit it that well. Maybe because it was a dish that was basically mixed with cheese. It wasn’t that he didn’t like it. He couldn’t digest it well. Didn’t he get a stomachache right before the preliminaries eating risotto?
Even if he could make an edible risotto, he wasn’t confident in making a perfect one.
Because he couldn’t even cook risotto al dente. Excluding expensive restaurants, they all served disastrous risottos. Maybe, it could be to suit their tastes, but the rice grains were usually fully cooked and crushed.
Because he had lived eating those kinds of risottos, he couldn’t get a model example of risotto. Even so, the reason he didn’t feel despair was because he had the strength of the system. Because when he was designing the recipe, if there was an awkward point, it would be seen through the estimated score.
The time to design the recipe was 10 minutes. Jo Minjoon designed the recipe many times in his head. He put in sea mussel, bacon, and thought of many things that could go well with risotto.
But it wasn’t easy. They were mostly 5 points, and the ones he thought was good were only 6 points.
‘Am I not doing the designing correctly? Or the score also takes into account how much I know about risotto……’
He felt frustrated. Because in the meantime he was thinking like that, the time was still flowing.
But Jo Minjoon wasn’t the only one to be troubled about designing the menu. Kaya, and Carlos were the same. Kaya didn’t eat a risotto like risotto in her whole life. Precisely speaking, there was only once. Alan’s risotto she had tried just now.
Kaya just looked at the empty table in front of her. Actually, she was drawing the picture of herself making risotto in that place. She combined different ingredients, but she could only think of one recipe that was good enough. Only……
“Bring the ingredients! You have to complete your dish in 1 hour!”
There wasn’t more time be thinking. Jo Minjoon moved his step. It wasn’t a perfect recipe, but he was attracted to one. It was a risotto made by using Italy’s representing ham, prosciutto, and a ripe pear.
The cheese he was going to use was the parmigiano and reggiano Alan had used. The meaning of the name was simple. Cheese from the region of Parma. This cheese originated in Italy, Parma, was better known as parmesan cheese in Korea. But were two completely different things. Parmesan cheese was a combination of parmigiano, reggiano and other things. Saying that the two of them were the same was like saying that pure gold was the same as mixed steel.
And the rice was also the same as Alan’s. Arborio rice. It was the most suitable rice when making risotto. This kind of rice was short in length, so the rice grains were hard and had great elasticity. It could be said that this ingredient had great synergy when combined with other ingredients.
And the pear was bosc pear. The korean pear had a round shape like hallabong, and compared to to it, bosc pear was more crunchy and had more sugar. That’s why Jo Minjoon wished for Korea to produce only bosc pear. Because it was that delicious.
Originally, if he had to check the ripeness of the fruit, he had to press the end part of the stem, and it took quite a while to do so. But Jo Minjoon didn’t have the need to do so. Because the system was telling him everything.
That was the best Jo Minjoon could pick right now. Because even if it was immediately delivered, comparing to being acquired at that place, the freshness could comparatively fall.
Jo Minjoon’s eyes moved quickly over the pears. He looked at over 20 windows and picked two bosc pears, and then he picked the shallots and fresh sages. This herb that was also known as salvia was really strong.
Saffron was also an attractive choice, but honestly speaking he wasn’t confident in handling it perfectly. Because saffron was a really hard to handle herb. To use it in a non accustomed to make dish like risotto, he couldn’t help but hesitate.
After he walked past the vegetable corner, Jo Minjoon rolled his eyes in front of the place that contained the hams. Prosciutto ham. Prosciutto was also one of the products originating of Parma, just like parmigiano and reggiano. It was a ham made by drying sauced meat, and the special point was that it didn’t need to be smoked.
Just like you used dry aging method to dry the meat so the nutrients condense and the aroma intensifies instead of using the wet aging method, it was the same for prosciutto. But the point that wasn’t comparable to dry aging is that prosciutto’s maturing time was more than years.
In the case of prosciutto, it was sealed in a plastic pack, so the quality was consistent. Jo Minjoon grabbed a prosciutto without hesitation and kept walking.
Chicken gravy, butter, dry white wine, and pepper was all of the ingredients he needed. He didn’t need salt. He was planning to make the seasoning with just cheese.
Jo Minjoon was one of those that didn’t take long picking an ingredient. Because the others had to check the quality of the ingredients one by one. Jo Min Joon was the first to have finished picking his ingredients. He heated a small sauce pan in mid fire and the judges approached him. Joseph asked.
“You picked fresh ingredients well. What kind of risotto are you planning to make?”
“It’s a risotto made with pear, prosciutto and sage.”
“The sage’s aroma is strong, and it’s also the same for prosciutto. Will you be able to make it as to those ingredients don’t clash against each other?”
“I’m planning to use the least amount of sage possible. If the dish is done as I’m thinking it to be, at least, it won’t be thrown in the trash bin.”
The judges looked at him with envious eyes without saying anything. Jo Minjoon didn’t mind and concentrated on cooking. The estimated cooking score was 6. Although the recipe was good, it also meant that it lacked something. Actually, risotto was that kind of dish. Because rather than the recipe, the chef’s hands could make a difference of heaven and earth. If you were a beginner, it was a dish which you would fail 100 times out of 100.
And that’s why Jo Minjoon could concentrate harder than ever. Jo Minjoon poured olive oil and heated it sufficiently. He couldn’t let it smoke. Because that meant that the oil was burning. When it started to have a shiny gloss, it meant that it was already heated.
Jo Minjoon sliced the prosciutto thinly and placed it on the oil along with four leaves of sage. After waiting for it to become crispy, he had to take them out with a sieve and place it over kitchen towel to take off the oil.
The next was the gravy. Jo Minjoon poured the chicken gravy in a mid sized saucepan and turned on the fire. It was a must to use an appropriate fire strength.
Be brought the gravy on fire and Jo Minjoon placed the shallots and the prosciutto on a cutting board. It wasn’t the prosciutto he had fried just then, but a new one. He chopped the same amount of prosciutto he had fried along with shallots, and he just had to fry it in the low heated frying pan.
Before the shallots turned brown from frying, there were many things he had to do in those 1 to 2 minutes. First, he had to take out the sage leaves for a bit, and had to peel the pear to chop it the size of a dice. As he was handling the pear and looking around, the onions were already finished cooking. Jo Minjoon’s hands fastened. And that was the reason. A voice was heard.
“Minjoon! Look at your hands! Hands!”
It was Emily. Jo Minjoon checked his surroundings dumbfoundedly. And only then did he notice that his left thumb had quite a deep wound. Jo Minjoon raised his left arm. The medical crew quickly approached him and disinfected and sprayed hemostatic medicine in his thumb. Emily asked with a worried face.
“Can you continue?”
Jo Minjoon replied briefly and chopped the remaining pear with his other hand and put it on the frying pan. Pear, rice, and a teaspoon of sage. It wasn’t frying but just coating it in oil while shaking the pan, and the next was the wine. After the treatment ended, he put on a rubber glove, and he poured half a cup of dry wine in the frying pan. His hand burned, but Jo Minjoon was too concentrated to bother about that.
He raised the fire of the pan that had the mixed ingredients, and Jo Minjoon just waited for the wine to boil down in the rice grains. And only then could he notice Emily that was still looking at him concerned. But she wasn’t the only one. He didn’t know when he had come, but Alan also approached him and was looking at his hands. Precisely speaking, at his left hand. Jo Minjoon looked down at his hand. Now that he was conscious of it, a hot and painful feeling made him frown.
Alan and Emily could not tell him to stop and get a proper treatment. Because they knew really that for Jo Minjoon, and all the other participants, this place had a deep meaning. Jo Minjoon composed himself and said.
“I’m okay. There’s no need for you to be concerned.”
“…..As soon as the mission ends, get proper treatment.”
Alan said in a blunt voice and turned his back. Emily too let a sigh and went to another table. Jo Minjoon bit his lips. The pain was getting worse, but it wasn’t the time to be crying.
‘The thumb…….moving it is a bit difficult.’
Because of the pain, he couldn’t feel it well. However he was already done with the knife. The inconvenience wasn’t that big of a problem.
When the wine was almost boiled down in the rice, Jo Minjoon poured about half a cup of the boiling chicken gravy on the rice. When it boiled down, another cup. It boils down and another cup.
And like that, 10 or 15 minutes passed and the rice grains were slowly becoming more sticky. And that was the time to put in the remaining pear. Jo Minjoon peeled off the pear, chopped it just like before and then put it on the pan. The pear slowly started to lose shape under the hot gravy and then disappeared.
Jo Minjoon repeated tasting it. He felt the roundness of the rice grains, and also felt the faint aroma inside it. He couldn’t exactly know what al dente meant, but he tried his best to give it flavor. It was through the taste his system couldn’t do, but his tongue could.
It was hard. The rice’s flavor, pear’s flavor, wine’s flavor, gravy’s flavor, sage’s flavor. Feeling all of these flavors at the same time was a really difficult thing to do. However, Jo Minjoon was in a state of concentration like never before. It was an unfamiliar dish. And because of that, he had to evaluate it more perfectly.
Jo Minjoon soon forgot about the pain in his thumb. He just felt the flavors. Flavor, aroma, texture. The only thing he was seeing right now was the risotto, and he was only listening to the rice grains exploding in his mouth. Jo Minjoon put all of his concentration in his tongue. No, precisely speaking he wasn’t concentrated in his tongue. Cooking. Jo Minjoon was immersed in cooking. No, the cooking embraced him.
Even before he used all of the gravy, Jo Minjoon confirmed that the rice grains were completed. They were inflated like a balloon, and when he chewed the insides of it, his teeth felt the softness. The aroma of the wine and chicken gravy; and the aroma of the sage and prosciutto tickled his nose like an elaborated puzzle.
Jo Minjoon turned off the fire, and started to cool the risotto. After a minute passed, he put in the melted butter, cheese and pepper to do the seasoning. It was completed.
‘The estimated score was 6?’
Jo Minjoon bit his lips and stared at the risotto. The system was his strength. In the end, it didn’t decide his limits. An excellent risotto. Although he had never eaten a proper risotto, in the end it was still food. A delicious one. And Jo Minjoon knew how to give it flavor. Just like Alan had said, he knew what cooking was. Although he didn’t have the absolute sense of taste they thought he had…… Jo Minjoon believed in his talent and passion for cooking.
There’s a saying that those who believe in themselves have no impossible things. At times, he thought that that versicle was too idealistic and simple, but now he got the feeling he had comprehended those words.
And that comprehension and trust, compensated him.
[You made a risotto that’s over your limits with a surprising concentration!]
[The ingredients have perfectly harmonised themselves. The rice you made is taking all of that flavor!]
[The mastery of Italian cuisine cooking has risen!]
Jo Minjoon’s eyes shook. He looked at the last window with those shaking eyes.
Origins: (Too many ingredients to show)
Cooking score: 8/10
< Crossroad (3) > End
Translator’s note: Regular chapter!
Thanks for reading and for your support!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled