Javier’s eyes didn’t change at all while Minjoon thought . Due to that, Minjoon paused a little bit when he turned back to Javier .
“Did you fall for me all the sudden? Why are you looking at me like that?”
“…Ah? Oh, it’s nothing . I was just thinking . ”
“If it’s not that important, can I tell you my idea for the dish?”
“Sure . What’s your idea?”
“I think we can add a few more bland things, since the anchovy stock turned out saltier than we thought . ”
“There are a few things I already thought of, but tell me what you think first . ”
Javier started thinking .
“The texture of the dish is pretty chewy right now, thanks to the fish . How about we use something that has a bit of an interesting texture?”
“Hm, like what?”
“We could use jelly, since that’s your specialty . But it has a weird texture that probably doesn’t fit this dish…”
“Hold up, what’s that about my specialty being jelly?”
Minjoon’s eyes widened in surprise . Javier nodded .
“The one thing you do way better than all of us . It’s jelly, isn’t it?”
“…But that’s not what I’m confident with . ”
“What is it, then?”
Minjoon didn’t hesitate .
“Sauce . ”
His specialty since Grand Chef had always been sauces . That’s never changed .
“You were always pretty good with combining ingredients,” Javier agreed .
At first, it was all thanks to the system helping him out . But these days, he could make something decent even without the system . He supposed he could say that he was now able to win without cheating? Minjoon looked down at his hands for a second .
“Anyway, my specialty isn’t jelly . It’s sauce . ”
“Fine . Whatever you say, boss . Anyway, we can’t do jelly . The texture’s weird, and the sashimi already has a similar texture . ”
“So what, then?”
“Tendon . The fatty part . ”
“I’m going to cook it low and slow, and then fry it up . ”
“Fry it with what? Is it even going to work, to begin with?”
Tendon . Minjoon didn’t even think of such an option . Sashimi with fried tendon… It was completely different compared to the traditional sashimi . Minjoon had a hard time imagining what it’d be like .
“Well, I kind of came up with the fried thing on the fly, but the main thing I’m thinking of is the tendon . I think the fatty part would meld well with the sashimi . ” Javier answered awkwardly .
“Hm . That does actually sound pretty nice . ”
“What did you think of at first, Minjoon?”
“Soft tofu . ”
“Ah, yeah, that’d work really well . ”
Javier clapped in surprise . Minjoon shrugged .
“It does, but yours sounds way more interesting . Let’s try both first . We can choose one of the other, or just try both at once . ”
“Ah… Mixing doesn’t sound that great . ”
“Let’s try it first, yeah? Trying it once is infinitely better than thinking it a hundred times . ”
“Oh, sounds cool . ”
There was probably no need to tell Javier that was a korean idiom . Minjoon smiled as he took out the tofu and the tendon from the fridge . He then started thinking . They needed a plan .
“I was thinking we could slice the tofu into thin threads and dump it in the soup . So that you can have it with the sashimi just like that . ”
“Sounds nice . What about it?”
“I think we could also fry it up a bit like agedashi tofu . ”
“You’re getting too many ideas, man . ”
“Seriously . Agh, let’s just go with our original plan . Go start cooking the tendon . I’ll cut the tofu . Ah, what are you going to cook it in?”
“I’m just going to use some of the stock . That should imbue the tendons with some nice flavor . ”
“Nice . Don’t season it, though . The stock should season it well enough . ”
“Sure . ”
Javier smiled as he cleaned the tendons . It’s been a while since cooking felt so fun to him . It was all thanks to Minjoon . Having someone who thoroughly enjoyed cooking right next to him was almost infectious .
‘So this is how Kaya fell for him . ’
What more could you ask for than a person that made you feel comfortable and happy? Javier muttered to himself as he started on the stock .
“Justin’s going to have a lot of fun with this . ”
“What about Justin?”
“He’s going to have to take care of all the anchovy shit . ”
“Ah . ”
If a person doesn’t take out the guts of a dried anchovy out, the resulting stock would turn quite bitter . It was almost a requirement to take out the innards of a large anchovy . Of course, this job would fall on the probationary employee, Justin .
“I used to suffer a lot when I was on probation, too . ”
“Eh? I thought you never was one, though . ”
Oops . Minjoon forgot that that never happened here . He tried to cover it up quickly .
“Ah, you know . When I first started cooking . ”
“Well, since you were alone, I guess you had it even harder than Justin . Since you had only the internet to rely on . ”
“Yup, that’s it . ”
Minjoon took up his knife . Normally, a Chinese cleaver was best for this task, but… Western knives weren’t so bad either .
‘I need to get the angle right . ’
He didn’t hesitate once he felt he got it right . He started pounding the board with a quick rhythm . After chopping the tofu as thinly as possible, he had to lay it down on the ground and chop some more . Javier looked at this with great interest .
“You’ve gotten better with your knife . How does that work? Justin’s the one doing all the prepping, isn’t he?”
“I cut the jellies, remember? The focus required from that helped a lot, I think . ”
Minjoon said this as he picked up a single tofu thread from the pile . It was almost invisible to the eye . The rest of the process from here was rather simple . He just put the tofu into the hot stock, along with the sashimi, caviar, and a piece of cilantro . The end . It was rather easy to assemble, but the process wasn’t easy at all .
First of all, the tofu . Cutting it like that was almost impossible for a normal person . Making sashimi was no easy feat either . Just cutting the fish into even slices was a challenge enough . Even chefs had a difficult time working with fish that he wasn’t familiar with sometimes .
‘Now that I think about it, I’ve never really hit a wall on this kind of front after a certain point . ’
Of course, he was still very lacking in terms of noodles, bread, rice cakes and sushi, but he didn’t have any problems making something basic .
‘Skill tab . ’
As soon as he thought the words, numerous screens appeared in front of Minjoon . He picked out the ones that he wanted .
[ Understanding of Knifework ] – 75% experience
You will face no difficulties with ingredients, as long as you have a sharp knife .
Your skill with accuracy and speed are all at the level of an expert .
Your knife work will not affect the freshness of the ingredients .
Incredibly low chance of getting a cut while cooking .
‘…What percentage was it last time?’
He remembered it being under 60% at one point . Did he just grow that much? Minjoon took the dish over to Javier .
“Here, try it . ”
“Ah, finally . ”
Javier opened his mouth, and took a bite . As soon as he did so, he trembled almost as if he was thrown into cold water . He lifted his arm up at Minjoon .
“You see this?”
“Damn, you got goosebumps? Was it that good?”
“Taste aside… The dish is very straightforward . Every ingredient is showing its charm in full bloom . The caviar tastes like the sea itself, the stock is incredibly rich, the tofu is tickling my tongue, and the fish almost feels like a human tongue . This… is a really lewd dish . ”
“…What an interesting review . ”
Minjoon tried a bite as well . He instantly agreed with Javier . The tofu was pushing its way onto his tongue ever so slightly . As he stood there smiling in delight, Javier let out a sigh .
“Man, I lost . The tendon isn’t going to be even half as good as this . ”
“Don’t give up . You can’t say that before you even try . ”
“You think I can do it?”
“Come on, man . Remember what I said?”
Minjoon looked into Javier’s eyes .
“I trust you . ”
Javier couldn’t help but smile . He turned to look at the pressure cooking behind him . The tendon was sitting in that pot all this time . Javier sent out a silent prayer towards it .
‘You better taste good, tendon…’
“Hm, to use this many ingredients in one dish… How interesting . Who came up with this?”
“We came up with it together . ”
Javier responded without missing a beat . Rachel looked at him quietly for a bit before turning back to the dish . A white, circular dish, with the center of it curved upwards into a slight hill . The dish had several main ingredients on it, with the tofu decorating the sides along with the soup .
Rachel put her attention on the ingredients . The sashimi, the caviar, and the cilantro . There was also a tiny piece of tendon as well .
She could decide on her opinions after she tasted the dish . She took a bite . Her face didn’t change at all even after she finished swallowing .
“So how did you end up working together with Minjoon? You said you were going to work alone, didn’t you?”
“Chefs and cooks have different jobs . Cooks need to do everything by themselves, but the chef is a commander on the battlefield . I realized that if I were to be a real chef, I needed to stop ignoring my friends and get as much help from them as possible . ”
“You didn’t feel embarrassed reaching out to them?”
“Of course I did . It means I’m still very lacking . But if I’m to improve, I’m still going to have to enlist the help of others . Minjoon was just the first to offer his help to me . ”
“Javier worked hard this time around . ”
Minjoon smiled . Rachel couldn’t help but smile in response .
“You almost look like I already gave you an ok sign . ”
“Well, I think you will . ”
“I feel like I know what you’ll ok or not after getting rejected and approved a few times . ”
“You’re starting to sound like a know-it-all just after half a year . ”
“Hey, I still have much to learn . I’m going to stay here for at least a decade . ”
Minjoon grinned . Rachel let out a small laughter before placing her utensils next to the dish . The plate was completely empty .
“I thought you guys might fall short on at least one dish, but…”
Rachel smiled .
“That critic’s going to get a real beating with this one . ”