Honestly, he didn’t feel particularly attached to korean cuisine. And he had many reasons. The food his mother made wasn’t delicious, and there weren’t any good restaurants near his house. But it would be different if he ate in a luxurious korean cuisine restaurant.
Now that he looked, the korean meals he could try were all salty, sweet or spicy. What suited his tastes was the miyeokguk or bibimbap he made in the past mission. He also liked not season plain white kimchi.
Modern people followed stimulation. And Korea wasn’t exempted from that. It was hard to search for a restaurant that didn’t write a msg, and even if they didn’t, they had to use provocative ingredients to compensate for that lack. There were stores that attained success through a plain and simple flavor like Pyongyang naengmyeon (평양냉면), but how many people that weren’t epicureans thought that it was delicious?
With that meaning, kimbap was a wonderful dish. The seasoning wasn’t excessive and the flavor was simple. But even so, people liked it and if you didn’t put in weird ingredients in it, anyone could make it to be delicious. And that’s why. That’s why Jo Minjoon could recommend kimbap to his teammates. But of course, what they were thinking about was norimaki.
But with the point that they immediately thought of norimaki like that, Jo Minjoon could get a certain amount of assurement in this item. Because when he actually ate kimbap before participating in Grand Chef, was in a sushi store he saw by coincidence.
When he got in the restaurant wanting to eat sushi, he got surprised at the place full of customers. And he was also surprised that rather than normal sushi, kimbap sushi and norimaki were occupying almost all of the place of the displaying stand. He had known that white people didn’t like laver that much, but asians didn’t even number half of the half of the customers.
He could say that sushi, and the variety of it, norimaki had already succeeded in the world.
That’s why he felt his heart getting lighter while making kimbap in front of his teammates. It didn’t matter what you put in the kimbap. Because everyone agreed with norimaki. And the given concept seemed to have been decided.
What he gave them was normal korean kimbap. Cucumber, pickled radish, eggs, carrot, ham and burdock root. He used canned ham for the ham, but it wasn’t really a problem. Because it didn’t mean that he would present the dish just like that, but it was to teach them the characteristics of korean kimbap. Anderson chewed a few times and frowned.
“This, what oil you said was applied?”
“The aroma of the oil is too strong. I think that it would be better to put in less or to use another oil. I like the point that there’s no vinegar or kelp water in it. Because only the fresh flavor of the rice remains, I get the feeling that it suits well with the other ingredients. But I think that we have to prioritize not making the rice smell bad.”
“Doesn’t the laver smell bad?”
“I wouldn’t know if I ate it alone, but if I eat it with rice it’s good. I don’t smell fish that much. I’m just speaking objectively. There’s nothing to point out about the combination of the ingredients it contains. At least, it felt good inside my mouth.”
At Anderson’s words, Jo Minjoon barely took breath again. Seaweed wasn’t that familiar to westerners, but norimaki was a success. And the reason of that was because the vinegar and kelp water that was in the rice, caught the bad smell of the laver. He started to worry because in korean kimbap, there was no vinegar or kelp water to catch the bad smell.
“Could it be because of the sesame oil?”
“I don’t know. I will have to compare later. Why don’t you try it yourself if you have an absolute sense of taste?”
“……Well, originally it’s difficult to know about your own dish.”
“There’s not much in absolute taste.”
Anderson smirked. Joanne looked at the separately made kimbaps and opened her mouth.
“What were the ingredients for these? Karaage, hamburger, sea urchin’s eggs, tuna, fried shrimp with avocado, smoked salmon, vegetables and assorted eggs, and…….I ate the else. What were they? I think that there were more kinds. Ah, Minjoon. Your that….. It’s so hard because there are a lot. Anyways, that korean norimaki too.”
“The one with tandoori chicken, pork barbecue, and the normal kimbap I just made. And korean norimaki……. We can just write in the menu as korean norimaki. First, we should mix sesame oil with olive oil, or just use olive oil. And I think that it would be good to serve in thin slices, just like you ate before.”
“Let’s not do that and instead let’s slice norimaki in a 1 inch size, and leave aside normal norimaki the size of a finger. How about it? I thought that the slices you cut were really comfortable to eat. I think that it would also vary depending on the person.”
“That’s fine. But I think that it would be good to prepare the 1 inch sizes beforehand. I think that people will mostly prefer that. Because they are accustomed to it.”
As he talked like that and ate the avocado and smoked tuna kimbap, he felt the oily flavor of the avocado, the salty tuna, and aside of that the aroma of chili. It was a spicy flavor that felt good. He felt the tip of his nose get chilly and he he opened his eyes while frowning like a person who had eaten something acid.
It was delicious. The cooking score was 6, but it couldn’t be helped. Because he had put in smoked tuna, avocado and chile and just rolled it. Perhaps, getting a 6 was really an outstanding thing.
“Who made this?”
The one who had replied was Anderson. Jo Minjoon opened his eyes really big as if he was surprised.
“It’s really delicious. First, the salmon got smoked so softly.”
“Of course. Who made it?”
“It wasn’t tasty for me.”
Peter said bluntly. Anderson’s eyes became sharper. Peter hurriedly shook his hands and said.
“It’s not that your cooking was strange. I just keep feeling the flavor of the laver in the tip of my tongue. Is this a must? I think that it shouldn’t be a problem for the laver to be there.”
“…….Mmm. There’s something similar. It’s called rice sandwich. But do you not like it that much?”
“It’s just that i’m unfamiliar to it. I think that there would be few customers like me, so wouldn’t it be better to put in a few dishes in the menu with no laver in it? That rice sandwich you said for example.”
Peter’s words were quite appropriate. It was at that moment when Jo Minjoon tried to seriously think about his proposal. Anderson shook his head and said.
“There’s no restaurant that satisfies all of your demands. If not, would they be selling beef? Indians don’t eat it. And even more so in a small place like a food truck. You just have to sell what you have to. And if it wasn’t a moving transport, but a restaurant, your words would be correct. Because if there are people that say that they just can’t tolerate laver, they would just leave. But this is a food truck. There’s no need to concern yourself.”
Anderson’s words seemed quite right. Joanne opened her mouth admiring him.
“You thought of all of that in this short while? Aren’t you rather intelligent?”
“I grew in a chef’s house. This much is common knowledge. And it’s also true that I am intelligent.”
“…….And just like intelligent people, you all seem to suck.”
At Joanne’s words, Anderson snorted a hmph and said.
“Even so there are really few people that haven’t tried norimaki in the world. I think that it would be better to write as norimaki sushi rather than norimaki. Because there are quite a few people that first eat if it says that it’s sushi.”
“Those are some convincing words.”
Joanne opened her mouth. She raised her handphone and showed the community she was doing.
“If we announce that we are going somewhere, shouldn’t viewers come like a flock? And if we also say that Minjoon is the team leader and also that the norimaki is the main menu, many people will come to find us. Because norimaki made by an asian team leader and norimaki made by a westerner is a different nuance. And Minjoon also has a lot of fans.”
“……..I have a lot of fans? It’s a first listening to that.”
Joanne laughed and said with her mouth shape. ‘Kaya’. Jo Minjoon let out a sigh and changed topics.
“…….I did hear that they were going to publicize in Grand Chef’s main page.”
“The first day we will certainly be able to sell everything out. But the problem is after that. As more bad comments are posted, less customers will come.”
“What if there are people that post ill comments without even having eaten it?”
“They won’t disappear by worrying. Let it be.”
Anderson replied with a cold voice. Looking at him, Jo Minjoon got the feeling that he was really from a chef’s house. Perhaps, he would have already experienced the problems they were facing right now. Through his parents, he would have suffered just as much as he has shared happy times.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
“……..I picked you well, right?”
“It would be the best decision you made in your life.”
Grand Chef’s house was located in Illinois, Chicago. The rent car company was also located inside of Chicago. However, during that time they couldn’t properly feel Chicago’s air. And they were sloppily eating their first Chicago’s meal.
Chicago pepperoni pizza. There was so much tomato and pepperoni you couldn’t differentiate from each other that it was dyeing the pizza red, and on top of the finger sized dough, there were a lot of toppings in it. Jo Minjoon was slowly slicing the pizza in pieces so thick it was hard to put it in his mouth. The flavor of the cheese was strong, but the sticky and thick dough covered that flavor. It was a rather harmonious dish. However Anderson frowned.
“It’s good that there’s a lot, but you have to be able to eat it. Can they give you something you can’t even fit in your mouth?”
“Why? It doesn’t matter much if you slice it.”
“Real pizza is eaten with your hands.”
In these aspects Anderson was really picky and rather intimate. Ivanna asked while chewing the pizza.
“Minjoon, what score is the pizza?”
“……..Can you stop asking me the score? I’m not scoring the food, but the cooking process.”
“So wouldn’t that be able to evaluate the food itself?”
“That’s relative. It’s difficult for an objective evaluation. So i’m feeling how complex was the flavor made, and how well it was cooked.”
“…….So what score is it?”
In conclusion they wanted him to tell the score. Jo Minjoon replied after gulping the pizza in his mouth.
“7 points. The dough was really well done. Just like the place that sells the best in this town.”
“Hmm. I thought it would be an 8.”
“Just like I told you, the flavor isn’t a 7. Because you don’t have to only cook in a high level to make a high level food. The norimaki we are making right now is just like that. Compared to the normal cooking method, the flavor is quite stable.”
And that was the biggest reason he proposed making norimaki. And at the same time, the reason why his teammates accepted it so well. You could make a wide varieties of menus simply and at the same time the combination of laver and rice gave them a sense of secureness.
But the biggest advantage was that it had all the points a food truck required. Variability, cost and capital. The ingredients to make norimaki didn’t even cost 1 dollar. However, the normal price was around 2 to 3 dollars. And also, taking into account the small size and that you could store it in the truck, the expectation towards it was quite high.
The time was almost past 9. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“Let’s eat quickly and prepare. We need to at least open at 11:30.”
Norimaki wasn’t a snack but a meal. If they missed lunch time, the repercussions could be as big. Jo Minjoon stood first from the place and checked at his handphone. There were a lot of comments about Grand Chef’s food truck in the internet. It seemed to have attracted the attention of at least a thousand, or even ten thousands of people. Of course, there wouldn’t be that much who lived in Chicago among them.
The breed of the rice was koshihikari. Compared to korean rice, koshihikari wasn’t much better. Chinese rice wasn’t bad to use in making kimbap or norimaki.
He didn’t put other rices. He didn’t know how healthy was mixing other rices, but the flavor was totally disgusting. Especially if he was going to use it for norimaki, there was nothing else to say. People who come to the food truck look for flavor, not the well being.
The iron pot was a 150 people use. One line of norimaki used up three spoons of rice. So sufficient amount they could make was at least 300 lines. Also if the rice was cooked in 20 or 30 minutes, he didn’t have to be that burdened about rice as he had thought.
After Jo Minjoon put the rice, he checked the ingredients and etc. They were all fresh. His other teammates also stood up from the place and started to do their share of work. Peter too, was taking out the tandoori chickens he was storing in the fridge.
It wasn’t a method where they made their own menus. They got in charge of one menu each, and when they were free they had to move according to the situation. What Jo Minjoon grabbed first was the hamburger. It was a recipe he had proposed, as a korean norimaki that seemed like kimbap. The first time he came to New York, the flavor of the hamburger steak he tried in Lucas’s house was still fresh. That strong aroma, and the texture and pepper he felt through his teeth. It had the most american flavor from all the things he tried.
But of course, it was difficult to imitate that. If he had to roll it in kimbap, he had to slice it thinly. And because of that, Jo Minjoon focused more on flavor than texture. When the exterior of the hamburger got yellow, he boiled it down in soy sauce, mirin, and lemon. Actually, it was a really popular japanese cooking method.
The atmosphere in the kitchen was basically calm. Rather than the teammates were calm, Jo Minjoon was like that. He didn’t like to raise his voice without any reason. If he had something to say, he said in a voice that could be heard sufficiently, and even if he was in an urgent situation, he didn’t yell.
Was it because of that? Time passed really quickly. Soon, it was past 11 o’clock, and the fryers and frying pans were all stopped. What they were doing seemed to be it all. Rolling the norimaki kimbap. And they had to cool it for a moment. Although in Korea, eating kimbap cold or hot didn’t matter much, norimaki was a food that was basically eaten cold.
“Anderson. Check the situation of the tea.”
“After rolling this.”
There were three kinds of teas. Ginger tea, green tea and lemon tea. Anderson checked the boiling pot and said.
“It’s perfect. We just have to serve it.”
“The kimbap is also finished.”
Jo Minjoon spoke after finishing rolling the last smoked salmon norimaki. The team members looked at Jo Minjoon. He felt sound of his heart beating and extended his hand.
“Let’s go. We will just eat this mission whole.”
“……That’s good, but must we do this?”
Anderson placed his hand on top of his and grumbled. 5 hands gathered and a loud yell was heard. Jo Minjoon opened the back door of the truck and went outside. And at that moment, he froze on that place.
“Huh, It’s Minjoon.”
There were no cheers. Just voices talking among themselves. But as countless voices were combined, he couldn’t help but hear it as they were yelling.
The customers were lined up.
So long he couldn’t even count them.
< Travelling, cooking and business (3) > End
Translator’s note: Regular chapter!
Thanks for reading and for your support!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled