GOD OF COOKING – CHAPTER 1: BACK TO 7 YEARS AGO (1)
“Wake up. Minjoon, Jo Minjoon!”
Jo Minjoon opened his eyes with a frown to the ringing of the loud voice. He was sure that he slept at the restaurant, so why was he home? While he was dazed and confused about his situation, Lee Hyesun opened her mouth again.
“What are you blanking out for? Hurry and wake up. It’s 10 already.”
“……. 10? It’s 10? Oh my God. Why didn’t you wake me up earlier?”
“What are you blabbering about. You’re taking a break from school?”
“What? There’s no break at the restaurant! I have to go to work!”
“Restaurant? You’re funny. Did you have a dream about being a chef or something? Get a hold of yourself Jo Minjoon! You are a college student!”
A dream about being a chef? She probably said that because I was working at the restaurant. But a college student? Jo Minjoon suddenly felt strange.
Jo Minjoon looked around his house by reflex. The chair that broke three years ago was standing by the table, as nothing has happened. The TV that they threw because of bad quality was sitting there in the living room, like it was it’s place. Jo Minjoon asked with a dazed voice.
“Mom, what… year was it?”
“What year is it?
“It’s 2010! Hurry and wash up and come to eat. Food’s going to get cold.”
2010. Then this was the year he was discharged from the army. Jo Minjoon washed up sloppily, still lost and confused. At Lee Hyesun’s urging, he sat at the table. At that moment, something like a computer screen popped up in front of Jo Minjoon
Origin: Go Ryung, South Korea
Cooking score: 5/10
Jo Minjoon rubbed his eyes, and stared at the rice blankly. What am I looking at? DId i go insane? Or am I still in a dream? He could only think of such things.
But the screen did not disappear even after he closed his eyes. In confusion, Jo Minjoon turned and stared at a doenjang jjigae. This time too, the screen popped up.
Origin: (hidden. It contains too many ingredients)
Cooking Score; 4/10
“Did I read too much fantasy novels these days……?”
“Ah, no. Mom. That’s not what I’m saying….”
“Don’t you know how hard your dad works? Use your time wisely for your dad and mom!”
So much nagging for reading some novel. It’s something that he hadn’t experienced much after graduating college. But he missed those nagging sometimes.
‘Did I…. return to 7 years ago?”
He remembered the conversation with CookingGuru. He didn’t want to believe it but given this ridiculous situation, he was only able to come up with one conclusion.
‘So he sent me back to the past.’
When he he thought about that conclusion, the reason behind followed. The CookingGuru asked if he were to return to his younger days, would he jump in the the world of cooking without any hesitation. And to that Jo Minjoon answered yes. He is that cooking is his path.
Honestly, rather than being happy, he was more distraught and confused. But even if he kept thinking about it, there were nothing logical he can come up with. Jo Min Joon lifted his spoon and brought some of the doenjang jjigae up to his mouth. It was at that moment another screen popped up.
[You have mastered Lee Hyesun’s doenjang jjigae recipe]
Mix strong doenjang with regular doenjang at 2:1 ratio, then add water three times the amount of doenjang. Add the potato first and boil until water level goes down a bit, then add half of onion, and one block of tofu. And then, add one teaspoon of dry anchovy seasoning (basically MSG), stir and boil until the stew is done.
‘……… She said she doesn’t put in MSG.’
Now more than the mysterious screen that pops up, those little details caught his attentions. He said you wouldn’t be able to get this flavor without adding MSG multiple times, his mom always denied such usage. As he was giving Lee Hyesun ‘Of course it was’ look, she clicked her tongue at him. (*TL note : Korean parent’s do this A LOT when their kid does something bad)
“Why are you not eating? Are you already complaining about the food? Here I thought that you’d get better after serving in the army….”
When she said that, a terrible thought came up. If he returned even a bit earlier. To when he was 21, 22, when he was still serving in the army……
Thank you so much, CookingGuru.
What I said about cooking, I will make them come true.
The lunch time was ending. Maybe it was because he ate around 10, he was not really hungry. So, he was able to go deeper into his thoughts. He was 30 years old. He was a high school english teacher, and aspired to become a chef. And now he was 23 years old. He was a college student, and he was preparing to return to school.
“….. what should I do.”
The moment he returned to the past, his mind was already set. This was his final chance. He didn’t want to hesitate this time and jump into the world of cooking late. But his parent’s would not allow him to quit school and pursuit a life of a chef blindly. First he had to show his parents what he could do.
Jo Minjoon went out into the living room. Lee Hyesun was folding laundry while she was watching TV. Jo Min Joon spoke up.
“Mom, do you want me to make you a simple snack?”
“I made you food food before. There’s something I’ve been practicing”
“Alright, let’s see how good my son’s cooking is.”
As soon as she said that, Jo Minjoon headed straight to the refrigerator. Although Lee Hyesun didn’t really enjoy cooking, she still had 3 fridges, one being a special fridge for Kimchis. Because of that, there were a lot of ingredients that’s been sitting in the fridge for a long time. His father, Jo Sooyeop, always complained about Lee Hyesun letting all those food going to waste.
Origin: Nam Yang, South Korea
These screens that pop up suddenly without notice sometimes confounded him. First, Jo Minjoon put the egg in the bowl. And then he grabbed lemon, sugar, and starch. There was a dish that popped into his head when he saw the egg. It was a dish that was pretty simple, but still needed a quite of bit of work. Souffle. A bread that look like a muffin, but softer than custard.
The quality of souffle depended heavily on the skill of the chef. So much that, there is a saying that all the other food at a restaurant that make good souffle are all good.
There was a phase when he was really into souffle. If he didn’t eat souffle for dessert after all three meals a day, he thought he was going to died. Of course, after making souffle like there was no tomorrow, he got tired of it. But still, it’s something that he made at least once a week.
He was confident. First Jo Minjoon preheated the oven, and separate the egg whites into a bowl. It was egg whites from total two eggs. Then, he added a large spoonful of sugar, and mixed well. Next was simple, whipping it like his life depended on it.
The sound coming from the kitchen intrigued Lee Hyesun. She raised her voice and asked.
“What’s making so much noise?”
“Bread? you can make something like that?”
“Just wait. It’ll be good”
Jo Minjoon kept turning his arm. If you keep whipping egg whites, bubble form. If you whip more and those bubble harden into actual creme, that was meringue.
What’s so hard about whipping some egg, one might ask, but making meringue took quite a toll on the arm muscles. It’s something you had to spin with an right arm, and then the left arm when the arm gets tired. Of course, you can only spin in one direction. If you spun it the other way, the bubbles you worked so hard to make would disappear.
It took him almost 4 minutes just to make the meringue. Jo Minjoon took a deep breath and looked at the meringue.
Origin: (Hidden. Too many ingredients)
Cooking Score: 5/10
He put much effort into making it, but the cooking score was only 5/10. But he understood why. He added sugar right from the beginning, instead of mixing it in during the middle. It’s not the standard way of making it.
Jo Minjoon licked his lips, and cut the lemon into half. Then he filtered the lemon juice through the sieve, then stirred it into the meringue. Slowly the color of the meringue changed to light yellow, and it starting giving off the fresh sour scent. At this point, the dish was half way done.
Jo Minjoon rubbed butter and sugar on a mug, and carefully poured the prepared meringue into it. He thought that two mugs would’ve been enough, but there was little bit more, which he put into a coffee cup. The next step was simple. Jo minjoon put the mugs on the cookie tray, and put them in the pre heated oven.
The next step was simple. Put sugar and starch into a mixer, and create sugar powder. After a while, when he heard the oven beep, Jo Minjoon took out the souffle, and sprinkled the sugar powder filtered over strainer.
That was the end. Light lemon colored souffle, with white sugar powder resting on it, like snowflakes. Jo Minjoon looked at the screened that popped up on top of the souffle.
Origin: (Hidden. Contains multiple ingredients)
Cooking Score: 6/10
6 Points. Jo Minjoon prepared his dancing tastebuds, and ate a spoonful of souffle in the smallest cup. It was soft, but still had a rough texture like scrambled eggs. It was soft like fresh snow smooshing under a shoe, which added stimulation to his tongue. The favor was the best part as always. Mixture of sour and sweet flavor, was one of his favorite flavors.
Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“Mom, It’s done.”
No sincerity even though he put in so much effort. Jo Minjoon brought the souffle to her. He was confidant that she will be surprised after a single bite.
And his expectation did not go wrong. Lee Hye Sun’s eyes popped open wide, and looked back and forth at the souffle and Jo Minjoon.
“You.. made this?”
“Then you think a Snail Bride made it or what?”
(*TL note : Snail Bride.우렁각시. She comes out of one of korean folk tales. Where a snail turns into a woman, and becomes a bride of a good hearted farmer, who saved her)
Lee Hyesun picked up a spoon as she said that. And after poking the lemon souffle, she let out a gasp.
“Wow….. it’s so soft!”
And then one bite. That was the finale. Lee Hyesun chewed the souffle, and took another bite quickly. And then stared at Jo Minjoon in awe.
“…….Hey.. do you take cooking classes in secret?”
Jo Minjoon smirked without saying anything. It was at that moment.
[Lee Hyesun is amazed by your ‘lemon souffle’!]
[The exp rises rapidly due to the cooking skill that exceeds the current level!]
[Baking level increased!]
[Cooking level increased!]