Published at 15th of November 2020 02:25:19 PM
Honestly, Min-joon didn’t think the score would be high enough because he knew this place quite well as a kid . It was relatively easy to get a higher cooking score, given that it took a long time to make soup, but he had never seen a rice and soup restaurant like this one scoring such a high score previously .
“You will find it tastes good here,” he said in a confident voice .
The moment Kaya looked at him with a dubious expression, a young man who looked like a college student approached him and spoke to him, “May I ask if you are Mr . Min-joon Cho?”
“Oh, yes, that’s right . ”
“Ah! I’m your fan . I’ve seen the Grand Chef programs and put my visit to Rose Island in my bucket list!”
“Haha… Thank you . ”
Min-joon laughed with an awkward expression then looked at the young man’s hand . With a smartphone in hand, he seemed to want to take a picture, but he couldn’t have the nerve to ask for it first . After all, Min-joon offered to take a picture with him . The young man smiled and took a picture with him .
The young man said in an excited voice, “Oh, I went there to eat Pyongyang cold noodles . It really tasted good . I just don’t know why Nam-hoon Lee left such a bad review…”
“Haha…” Min-joon laughed awkwardly, clearing his throat . Only then did the young man stopped talking as if he noticed that it was a pretty sensitive topic . At that moment, a waitress put down the rice and soup on the table, and Kaya said, opening the lid of the rice bowl, “What are you going to do about Nam-hoon?”
“Don’t you remember what he said? He openly suggested if you are confident enough to overturn his review of the Pyongyang cold noodles shop, you should come out for an open debate with him .
“In some respects, he is right . Honestly, I’m not so knowledgeable about Korean food . I admit it . But he doesn’t have any right or ability to judge me . How much does he know about me? He is just being rude to me, apart from cooking . And I don’t want to talk with such people . I feel already unpleasant about the fact that people mention my name and his together . ”
Grumbling like that, Min-joon lifted a spoon . However, the irritation on his face instantly disappeared as soon as he spooned it into his mouth . He smiled because it was the taste he expected, not the nostalgic taste he remembered as a kid . The ox head rice soup mixed with outer leaves of greens was salty and light but savory with the perilla powder on it, which he could not express properly because it tasted so delicious .
It was a moment when he realized once again that cooking was like a picture that painted a chef’s heart and philosophy . It was beautiful . It wasn’t as beautiful as the female protagonist in pretty clothes in a movie . Figuratively speaking, the taste of the soup reminded him of a Korean grandmother wearing loose-fitting pants under the rainy eaves . However, it was more mysterious and impressive than a young and beautiful actress .
‘Is this what they call a simple beauty…?’
It was the taste that touched the heart more than outright and three-dimensional beauty .
Maybe Min-joon could feel it because he was Korean, but various inspirations flashed through his mind at that moment .
So Kaya couldn’t say anything . She knew how important that moment was . She didn’t want to disturb him, at least until she felt the taste of blood in her mouth when she thought she chewed tofu .
“Damn it! What the heck is this?”
“Ah, it’s made by hardening cow blood with salt . Just think of it as black pudding . ”
“You really surprise me! I usually don’t get this kind of strange stuff in Korean food . ”
“Well, something strange is exotic, isn’t it? Honestly, there are many Koreans who can’t even eat it . ”
“Hey, you seem to make fun of me with something like this . ”
She pouted but didn’t let go of the spoon . The texture and aroma of clotted blood were a bit strange, but it felt like a very delicious soup, other than that .
“You never told me Korean dishes are delicious,” she demanded .
“Well, I told you that I didn’t know much about Korean food . But when I tried it after a long time, I think I know about it a bit these days . And I seem to have found out how to reply to that gourmet . ”
“Are you sure?”
“Shall we stop by the supermarket before going back home?”
He asked her instead of replying, which made her confused . But he didn’t talk anymore and began to focus on the soup again . And a little later, they emptied the pots .
He said, smiling at her, “Oh, you are eating the clotted blood very well . ”
“Don’t say that . You make me feel like a vampire . ”
He smiled silently . She was curious about what he was thinking, but she didn’t ask him further . she knew well that he wouldn’t answer when he was behaving mischievously like this .
After returning from shopping at the mart, he immediately took out the cutting board .
Then he gave his smartphone to Jemma, whose face was still swollen as if she just got up from the bed .
“Jemma, I’m going to cook from now on . Could you take a picture of me?”
“I would like to show people a good and general recipe . ”
She seemed puzzled but nodded softly . And he started cooking . What he made was not complex . He didn’t change the typical combination of ingredients .
Neobiani, or marinated grilled beef slices . A simple hot pepper paste stew made with only a little miso, soft tofu, and onions . Seasoned radish, raw vegetables, and bean sprouts, spinach and red pepper sprouts, steamed mackerel, Each of these dishes could be commonly found on the Korean dining tables on a daily basis .
However, he could change the taste of this kind of dish with a slightly different cooking method . He now started cooking . When Kaya also gave her hand under his instructions, he began to cook right away .
As always, he started with the sauce . He put honey, red pepper and sesame leaves, garlic and ginger, and sake in soy sauce and boiled it lightly . That was the beginning . After cooling down the sifted soy sauce, he applied it on the beef sirloin that he already trimmed for neobiani . He also applied the same sauce to the mackerel to be steamed then marinated it with vinegar and soju .
He accurately checked the proportions of all ingredients while seasoning them . It wasn’t because he couldn’t believe his own taste . He was thinking of sharing it with ordinary people . Chefs would come up with the same recipes in a few months or years, but for now, most of the people largely relied on the gourmet bloggers’ recipes . Obviously, there were some who might need this kind of recipe .
‘This is a typical dish, but it won’t taste like typical . ’
He displayed his cooking know-how in the recipes . He put all the experience he accumulated over the years and his brilliant talents into them . Most of the cooking points ranged from 6 to 7 points . Only one, steamed mackerel, scored 8 points . However, the way he cooked them easily could fascinate the people . He expected they could find out how he understood Korean food through his recipes .
Jemma swallowed, watching him cooking . As a rule, people feel uncomfortable about foreign food . Was it because he got used to dealing with all kinds of races in Los Angeles? His dishes always had the power to cross borders and stimulate the instincts hidden deep down in everyone’s hearts .
“It looks delicious…”
And the delicious smell brought even Bruce and Grace, who were exhausted, into the kitchen . Min-joon opened his mouth, scooping rice into a bowl .
“I bought some Tortillas, too . Do you like rice or Tortillas?”
“Well, I don’t want to eat Tortillas even in Korea . I’ll have rice . ”
“That’s a good choice . ”
Min-joon smiled then lifted the steamer from which the mackerel was steamed . The mackerel, which was lightly baked with starch and then steamed again, was chewy and soft, without any fishy smell . He sprinkled it with green onions, peppers, and sesame before putting it on the table . Jemma diligently took pictures of all of them . Min-joon put the herbs on the table and put in a bowl neobiani or marinated beef slices Kaya freshly baked .
He smiled at Jemma and asked, “How do you like the pictures? All good?”
“Yeah . ”
“Let me take a look . Great . Nice job! Jemma . ”
She smiled at his praise . He put a smartphone in his pocket and sat at the table .
If he could have his way, he felt like he wanted to post the pictures on the internet right away, but he couldn’t keep them waiting to eat .
“Thanks for the nice food . ”
Min-joon mumbled briefly in Korean and lifted the chopsticks . The first dish he reached out for was mackerel . When he put it in his mouth, curious how well it was steamed, he smiled .
He whispered with a confident expression, “I think I can upload the recipe . ”
When he said that, others hurriedly stretched out their forks to eat mackerel first .
All of them understood what he meant .
“Wow! This is really the best of Korean food . ”
“It’s really delicious, Min-joon . ”
Bruce and Grace competitively exclaimed at the gorgeous taste .
Min-joon grinned at them . After all, the only thing that made him pleased was to cook . He thought of Nam-hoon Lee at that moment . Even if he hurt that man with sharper and more aggressive rhetoric, he would feel more frustrated and tired .
Actually, Min-joon didn’t start cooking because he wanted to hurt someone or because he wanted to boast . He just wanted to treat more people to his dish and see them being happy .
Of course, there were always people like Nam-hoon who would try to hurt him . But Min-joon thought it was pointless to respond to such persons with long-winded arguments every time .
‘A chef should prove things with their cooking . ’
He lifted the chopsticks . The grains of rice between the chopsticks looked subtly cute . Korean food was just like grains of rice .
What he prepared was not a fancy dish . It was bountiful, but each of the ingredients was not expensive . Cooking them didn’t even require any extraordinarily advanced skills . What was needed was just sincerity in cooking . His friend, Min-sok Kim, showed sincerity in cooking Pyongyang cold noodles, and Min-joon also put his heart and soul into it . When people use his recipe, they would be able to make their dishes delicious as long as they show sincerity .
So, it was his message reading like this, ‘I see the sincerity in Korean food and feel the value of sincerity in it . ’ When he thought of that, his anger and discomfort that occupied his mind a moment ago disappeared .
Min-joon looked at Kaya, Jemma, Grace, and Bruce . He watched them smiling, moving their full mouths and munching their lips
“I like the way you are enjoying the meal . ”
They all looked at him when he made such an unexpected confession .
He continued with a smile, “I really love this table . ”