Actually thinking up of an 8-point recipe wasn’t such a surprising thing now because there were only two restrictions on the recipe: use pork and use fire. Actually, he thought that there was no pork recipe that didn’t use fire, so in the end he only had to think of a recipe related to cooking pork.
And while he was in Grand Chef’s house, he had tried more than ten or twenty dishes related to pork. They were chefs that came from all over the country. Even if they were amateurs, there wasn’t a thing or two that he couldn’t gain from them. That information was piled up in his head, so it would be more strange if he couldn’t think of an 8-point recipe.
However, it didn’t just end on thinking of an 8-point recipe. You could know just by listening that it was a 10 points recipe. Because it would end when you heard that explanation of another person. However, it was a different story if you talked about bringing the 100% of the flavor of that recipe. Three different dishes in two hours. If he didn’t want to make a mistake, he had to meticulously think the cooking process.
He even had to set the completion time for the three dishes to be the same. It wasn’t that hard of a condition. For pork galbi, he had to make the sauce beforehand and simmer it in it, and for meat ball, it didn’t need too much of cooking time. So the dish that inevitably needed more time would be dongpo pork.
“……..Did you already think of it?”
Kaya was frowning and crossing her fingers, and then she asked while glancing at him. Jo Minjoon replied with a relaxed face.
“Well, it’s not that hard to think about, right?”
Kaya glared at her and crossed her fingers again. He talked to her again.
“You can’t think of a recipe?”
“No, I thought of many, but I don’t know what to use.”
“The two over there, don’t talk.”
Emily looked at the two of them, and sent a fierce look. Kaya pouted and crossed her fingers again. It wasn’t that she was particularly slow. He could see that the other participants were not yet done designing a recipe.
‘Was I this fast……..?’
At first, he didn’t think that he was this much. But perhaps, it could be a problem of conviction. The others don’t know if a recipe would turn out to be good or not even if it was good because they didn’t have the system that scored the recipe. However, Jo Minjoon didn’t need to think about that. Because of that, he could be calm to the point that the judges sent preoccupied sights.
“Minjoon. Did you already finish the designing?”
“Think for a bit more. The recipe you thought of being perfect can actually bring you a completely different result. Just like there are dishes with horrible recipes, but can give a heaven’s flavor.”
“Yes, I am thinking.”
Jo Minjoon replied while laughing calmly. Alan opened his mouth feeling somewhat uncomfortable, but he closed it again. Thinking about it, there was almost no time that Jo Minjoon’s recipe was a mess. And it didn’t seem like it will be a mess just because it was today.
“……..I will believe you.”
In the end, the only thing Alan could say was that much. Jo Minjoon slowly loosened his fingers. For the cooking score to be high meant that the difficulty was also high. If he acted stupidly for even a minute, there was a high chance that he could miss the timing to give it flavor.
There was nothing to say about the dongpo pork and the meatballs that had to be fried, and the pork galbi was also a problem. Because he was planning to roast the pork galbi in direct fire. Although the difficulty was lower compared to Kaya’s grilled eel, he wasn’t as skilled as Kaya. So it was a mission which he had to concentrate more than anytime else.
Time flowed. Joseph was slowly looking at the clock, and announced the start of the mission with a clear voice.
The participants went to the pantry. The first thing Jo Minjoon took was pork meat. Samgyeopsal to use in the dongpo pork, shoulder meat to be put in the meat ball, and the ribs to be used in pork galbi. Aside from that, he had to take dry red wine, onions, potatoes, herbs, etc. Just as there were many ingredients because it was three dishes, Jo Minjoon didn’t use much time in picking the ingredients.
‘Freshness 73%, 81%, 91%……….Ah, it’s here. 97%. But the quality is middle.’
It was different even in choosing potatoes. Others had to touch it and look at the colour and the shape, but Jo Minjoon just had to look at the system’s window once to get the answer. There was already a difference from there. It was a speed so fast that not even Anderson who had received special education since small, or Kaya who grew up in the market and saw many ingredients without rest could compare to. Actually, when their baskets were still half-filled, Jo Minjoon was already preparing to cook in front of the countertop.
The judges approached him and looked at the ingredients, and couldn’t hide the surprise. Joseph looked at the potatoes and the onions and opened his mouth.
“Sometimes, I simply thought that you had a good sense, but you really pick ingredients well. The ingredients you picked are all of the best quality. They are fresh and grew well. Do you have some kind of know-how?”
“It’s not to the point of having a know-how, I just have good eyes.”
“……Those are some envious eyes. I think that it would be difficult to pick the ingredients as fast as you.”
Just like the person that said those words was Joseph, it was a compliment more certain than anything else. Jo Minjoon smiled and put three pots on fire. The first pot had onions, green onions, ginger, garlic, salt, cinnamon, and refined rice wine to boil the samgyeopsal. The second pot had sweet pumpkin, onions, carrots, and scallions for the vegetable gravy for the meatballs. The remaining one had canola oil to fry the samgyeopsal. The characteristic of Hong Kong style dongpo pork is that you have to fry samgyeopsal before boiling it.
The first thing Jo Minjoon handled was the pork ribs. Since the meat and the bone sticked with each other, separating them so the mean won’t go bad was also an ability. Jo Minjoon rolled the 5mm samgyeopsal. It could be seen as something particularly not difficult, but it was a quite a difficult work because you had to balance all of the sides of the meat equally.
This knife process was what determined the score of pork ribs. If you didn’t do this step properly, one side would get undercooked and the other overcooked. Because of that, Jo Minjoon’s eyes, which didn’t even have double eyelids, became sharper and more detail-oriented than usual.
He sliced the rib meat calmly but quickly. It wasn’t that he put strength in the tip of his knife, rather, it was like sharing skinship with your partner and rubbing the meat with soft hands. Every time he did that, the meat got sliced easily. But of course, there was no person that didn’t know that that process actually needed an outstanding amount of concentration.
‘He really grew a lot.’
Joseph thought while slowly looking at Jo Minjoon’s knife. Only two months had passed since the elimination rounds. However, in that time, Jo Minjoon was slowly filling the lacking points. No, rather than saying slowly, his speed was certainly fast.
‘He certainly has talent.’
Jo Minjoon couldn’t look at himself because the system covered his eyes, but looking from the others point of view, Jo Minjoon was a chef that had plenty of talent. The knife wasn’t something that ended simply by moving it. You had to understand the ingredient, and feel it. It was a vague expression, but it could only be expressed that way.
And Joseph could see that. Jo Minjoon’s comprehension towards cooking raised so much it couldn’t even be compared to two months ago. That was clearly felt from the recipe, from the knife, and in the cooking order. But of course, a situation is just a situation. Good chefs stimulated him from his side, and he had to clash with them at least once a week in the missions. If he didn’t grow in that situation, that would be rather strange. However, taking that into account, Jo Minjoon’s rate of growth was really fast.
It was difficult to call him a genius. That kind of word was more suited to the likes of Kaya, and basically, Joseph didn’t like to call a chef a genius. Because he felt that the effort he had poured all his life betrayed him. However, talent could exist in whatever theme, and Jo Minjoon was one of the person he had seen with the best talent. It was like that even without taking into account the absolute sense of taste.
He had already heard through Alan that Emily proposed him to walk the road of an epicurean. Joseph thought that it was a really horrible offer. Jo Minjoon was probably a chef that would remain in the history of cooking. So if he ended his life by evaluating the dishes of others, there would be nothing more meaningless than that.
Even while Joseph was sending him that fierce sight, Jo Minjoon didn’t notice at all. He rested the pork in a sauce made by mixing ginger, chopped garlic, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, red wine, sugar, and lemon juice.
After that, it was the turn to fry the samgyeopsal. After frying it until only the exterior got seared and keeping the juice, you boiled that and steamed it after wrapping it along with the dongpo pork sauce. And that’s how you completed the Hong Kong style dongpo pork. Jo Minjoon put the dongpo pork in the starting-to-boil oil, and immediately started to handle the pork meat that was going to be used in the meatball.
Shoulder meat. The fiber of this part was rough and the muscles were tough, and it wasn’t a part that had good texture. You normally boiled it for long or sliced it thinly to use it as pork chop. So of course, this part wasn’t good to be used as meat ball because it was better to use a part that had the less amount of fat possible.
If you weren’t skilled in handling meat, that process would be so hard it could take you many minutes. Some would think that you only had to mince it and slice it, but just because you striked the knife, the fiber wouldn’t be cut that easily. If you didn’t take into account the strength and angle, as well as the texture of the meat, it was a process that could only take longer.
However, Jo Minjoon’s hands were fast. When the samgyeopsal got cooked to the point he wanted, the minced meat was already mixed with dill. The amount of the shoulder meat wasn’t much, but even so, having finished the meat dough in the short time the samgyeopsal was getting seared was a really excellent thing. Jo Minjoon first put the samgyeopsal in a pot with boiling water. Then, the judges approached Jo Minjoon’s countertop and opened their mouths.
“Minjoon, there’s not even half the time now. Do you think you will be able to finish it?”
“Yes. It’s just like I have calculated.”
“Before I saw that you fried dongpo pork and boiled it……. Will you be able to save the rough texture of the dongo pork that way?”
“I’m planning to cook it in a Hong Kong style. I’m not planning to make the exterior hard and the interior soft, but i’m planning to also make the exterior soft.”
“……..Hong Kong style dongpo pork. Good. Do well.”
The moment the judges were there, Jo Minjoon didn’t even look at them while talking to them. It meant that he was that much concentrated, and each and every time made him nervous. But it was fun. This intense moment that made you hold your breath, it gave you the feeling that you were properly conquering cooking……
The corner of Jo Minjoon’s mouth raised. In the oil that he used to fry garlic, chili, star anise, and ginger, he put green onion along with oyster sauce, kaoliang wine, aged soy sauce, and sugar. It was a sauce with a perfect ratio. He sliced the boiled samgyeopsal thinly, and put the sliced green onions between that. After that, he poured the sauce, rolled it in a wrap, and then he put it in the steamer.
There was a little more than 40 minutes left. He placed a paprika on top of the fire, After that, he mixed bread powder and cream to the minced meat dough, and sprinkled salt and pepper. Now that he made that dough round, the feeling was different as before. Was it because he had made a lot of doughs while practicing bakery? Giving it shape now was much easier than compared to when he made the catfish meatballs.
‘…….Was it this easy?’
It was to the point he questioned that. However there was no time to ponder that question. Jo Minjoon spread oil in the frying pan, and carefully fried the meatballs. When the exterior got seared and got a dense brown color, it was the time for the vegetable gravy that was boiling until now to appear. Jo Minjoon poured the vegetable gravy in the frying pan and covered it with a lid, and then he took the breath he was holding.
After that, the next step was simple. He peeled off the burn part of the paprika, and after slicing it longly, he placed it on a plate. When the vegetable gravy got burn a bit, he poured red wine to raise the flames and slightly flambé it, and then he placed the completed meatballs on top of the paprika one by one.
The sauce was simple. After turning off the fire that was used to cook the meatballs in the frying pan, he poured sugar, wine, balsamic, and vinegar and boiled it down with the remaining heat. When he sprinkled that on the meatballs with a spoon, it was the end. And the score……..
A faint smile appeared in Jo Minjoon’s face. It was a difficult process, but now that the results turned out as he expected to, he felt better. Making an 8-point dish without being troubled by it at all also made him happy.
Jo Minjoon took some time to rest. If he wanted to get the best flavor, it was better to complete the pork galbi right before the evaluation. When there was about 10 minutes left, Jo Minjoon took out the dongpo pork from the steamer and did the plating. And the score of the dongpo pork was also as he expected it. A smile seemed to appear in Jo Minjoon’s mouth, but soon, it became stiff as if he got nervous again.
The remaining thing was only the pork galbi. It was unexpectedly the most simple and hardest menu. The other dishes were only difficult due to the process, but for the pork galbi, if you were even a bit careless, you could not get a good result. Depending on whether he could get 8 points in this dish or not would show whether he ad talent or not.
Jo Minjoon placed the pork galbi in the grill. Direct fire. It was one of the most difficult cooking methods related to fire. If you cooked it with charcoal or straw fire in a low heat, you wouldn’t need to think that it was difficult at all. But cooking it with a high fire and not burning the sauce and cooking the meat wasn’t an easy thing to do. And if he also had to keep the juices, how difficult would that be?
Of course, his situation was a bit better compared to the grilled eel Kaya made. Because pork was a less sensitive ingredient compared to fish. But…..
The fire on the burner raised in a blue colour, and sometimes in a reddish colour. Jo Minjoon bit his lips. He was so nervous to the point that sweat accumulated in his palms. If he failed this dish, even if the other dishes were good, there would be no meaning. However, it was a challenge he had to beat.
The fire looked alive. He wasn’t the type to expressed such things in words, but the fire looked alive. The fire followed the juices and sauce, and every time it happened, Jo Minjoon couldn’t blink and had to move the grill. The smell of the grilled meat was followed by a dense smoke. He wanted to cough, but held it down.
There were two things that made him persevere. The aroma of the sauce and the meat that got heated, and the shape of it being cooked without even a trace of being burnt. Just like a woman giving birth, Jo Minjoon beat that hardship. The smoke, the heat, and the fear.
And at the end of that fear, the result that came after he lifted the grill was simple.
[You perfectly roasted the pork galbi, just like the recipe, without any mistakes.]
[By combining concentration, ability, experience, and feeling, etc. your cooking level has changed!]
[Your cooking level has increased!]
< The pork and the fire (2) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading and for your support!
PR Note: For some weird reasons, this made me remember pokemon. Minjoon, use pork! Use fire! Or Emily, use glare! –Emily sent a fierce look–)
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa