Even after a field he wasn’t specialized in came out, Jo Minjoon’s face didn’t shake. It was a door he had to climb someday.
But of course, if it was him from before, he would be feeling regret right now. However, he wasn’t. And it wasn’t because just recently, his baking level got up to 5. Because in the first place, not all desserts had to be made by baking.
‘……..Should I try that?’
Jo Minjoon’s gaze grew sharper. What he was thinking right now was the dessert he ate in Rose Island. Excluding the chocolate pastry, they were all 8 points, and it also meant that Jo Minjoon knew the recipes of them.
But of course, knowing the recipe and imitating it were two different things. But at least, he was confident in bringing out 90% of the flavor. That dish that had sudachi curd and green apple jelly, and roasted cashew nuts as a garnish.
After he came back from the restaurant, Jo Minjoon worked hard to imitate all of the dishes excluding the molecular gastronomy. And the dish he got closer to was this one. Because right yesterday, he imitated it, and succeeded on getting 7 points.
If there was a varying factor, then it would be time. Jo Minjoon looked at Joseph’s lips with an anxious face. However, the one who opened her mouth was Emily, and not Joseph.
“You have two choices. One is one hour, the other one is two hours. If you choose the two hours one with something you can make in just one, then there’s no need to even talk about the score, right? Use a dessert using the given time perfectly. And.”
Emily paused for a moment. She continued talking with a serious face.
“In this mission, two people will disqualify. One from the one hour, and another one from the two hours. There won’t be given any more opportunities to the both. So be prudent in choosing the time. We will give you 10 minutes. Go to the right countertops if you want to make it in one hour, and to the left if you want to make it in two. It’s left and right from where i’m standing.
Jo Minjoon didn’t have more options but to choose the two-hour one. Because if he wanted to properly make jelly, he would at least need that time. The unexpected one was Marco. Just as his specialty was baking, he thought that he would be choosing the two-hour one, but what he chose was the one-hour one. And aside from him, Chloe, Hugo, and Peter chose the one-hour time.
And there were five people in total. In the other side, there were six people that chose two hours. Jo Minjoon, Joanne, Ivanna, and another three. Jo Minjoon glanced at the others. The one that caught his attention was a black woman called Sasha. She seemed to be five years older than him. And she, who was slim and had a gentle character, wasn’t someone Jo Minjoon originally was aware of. A relationship where she brought her food to ask for the cooking score occasionally. However, that changed a few days ago.
Baking level: 7
Decorations level: 5
The only ones that had baking level 7 were only two, Marco and Anderson. And it was the same a few days ago. And perhaps, a few weeks ago. Because it wasn’t that Jo Minjoon checked the levels of the others occasionally. And he only knew of her change a few days ago.
The score the carrots pound cake she brought two days ago asking for the score wasn’t normal. 8 points. When he checked her level because he was surprised, her level was already up.
‘…….To grow in the middle of the competition. No, I’m the same.’
He didn’t really feel like congratulating her. Who in the world could congratulate a competitor so honestly?
Jo Minjoon looked at his stats window with regretful eyes. His levels didn’t seem like it would rise soon. Precisely speaking, it was for the cooking level. After coming to the US, excluding cooking level, all the other things rose by one, but only the cooking level didn’t. Of course, as it was an important level, it wouldn’t rise that easily. But even so, didn’t human greed have no end?
‘If my level rises does my skills rise? Or if I improve my skills, only then would the level rise?’
It was a question he always had, but a person who could answer that couldn’t be found anywhere. When his cooking level rose to 6, funnily it wasn’t when he was cooking, but when he ate Lucas’s wife, Jane’s, cooking. It said it had raised because his comprehension towards cooking broadened.
It was a question he always had, but a person who could answer that can’t be found anywhere.
And it was actually like that. That time he ate a real american meal, and he could clearly feel what american cooking was like. It was good to look at it as his awareness broadened.
‘I thought that the meal in the three star was enough.’
However, what raised wasn’t his cooking level but his tasting level. It was unfortunate but it couldn’t be helped. Level 7. It was the same level as Kaya, Anderson, and Chloe. Hoping for that level to raise that easily was not a considerate thing. It was at that moment Alan opened his mouth.
“It seems like everyone chose. Bear in mind that this mission is a dessert one. Make a kind of dessert that would make you want to eat it even if you are full and have to throw up just to eat it. The people who chose the one hour will start cooking in one hour. Just keep looking until then. Well, let’s start. Bring your ingredients!”
Jo Minjoon immediately moved his steps. He wasn’t planning on grabbing all of the ingredients. In that time, it was better to prepare the green apple jelly a little more quickly. Even so, he had plenty of time while it was boiling. It meant that he could bring the remaining ingredients then.
What he grabbed right now was sugar, a less ripened apple, caramel, and pectin. When he first came to the US, he used the apple peels to use the pectin in it when making jelly because he didn’t have gelatin or pectin. But he didn’t need to do that if he had pectin powder.
There were two things that could be used when making jelly: gelatin and pectin. There were many people that used agar powder to make jelly, but the texture of it would be more like mook(묵) rather than jelly.
The difference in gelatin and pectin was simple. Gelatin was made by processing animal collagen, and pectin was obtained by extracting it in the kinds of tangerine peel or apple. And the flavor was so different as its root. The jelly made with collagen had a stronger congelation point, but the flavor tended to be weak. Pectin, compared to the collagen, had a lower congelation point but the flavor was stronger.
But he didn’t have to think about the pros and cons about gelatin and pectin. Because in what he ate in Rose Island, there was pectin in it. Right in front of him were clear footprints imprinted. Footprints of excellent desserts. So if he stepped just like that, then it would end there.
After slicing the apple in a wedge form, he put that in boiling water along with sugar and caramel. And then, he went again to the pantry. He had to bring the ingredients he couldn’t. Sudachi, asian pear, and nastrium. Cashew nuts, celery, eggs, and butter.
First, when he got back, he checked the pot. And right then, the judges approached him.
“What are you planning to make?”
“I wonder. I get that you were impressed many times there. But harmony is harmony, the proportion of the ingredients for each sauce is also important. That…….”
Alan was saying that with a slanting attitude, but stopped at that moment. His eyes shook. He asked as if he was saying maybe.
“………First, let me ask you one thing. Minjoon, are you perhaps able to not only read the composition of the ingredients, but also the proportion?”
“There is more information than you think in the dish.”
Jo Minjoon said with a calm voice. At his words, even Joseph could hang his mouth absentmindedly. It wasn’t enough with just reading the ingredients, but he could also guess the proportions? It was a nonsense ability. Maybe, if they even knew that Jo Minjoon could read the recipe as it was, then they would get angrier rather than surprised.
“……..The head chefs must be cautious of you in whatever restaurant you go to.”
“Because you can be the worst spy in the business.”
At those words, Jo Minjoon just laughed without saying anything back. Alan couldn’t turn away his gaze from him, and moved his steps with difficulty. Because they had to go with the other participants too. Emily cautiously opened her mouth at the last moment.
“It seems like there’s one more reason I should get closer with you.”
“Again, drawing the line. The offer from back then, i’m not planning to force you. So don’t act so cautiously.”
After Emily said that, she smiled brightly and left the place. Even if the judges were there or not, what Jo Minjoon had to do was still the same. To stir for the apple to not get burnt, and prepare the sudachi curd.
The first thing he had to do was to disinfect the sudachi. He had to rub the sudachi with baking soda and a little bit of water until foam came out, and after that he had to rub with thick salt and repeat the process. And after that, putting it in boiling water for 10 seconds, the job would be done.
The reason he used fresh sudachi instead of sudachi juices was because he need the sudachi zest. After only slicing the green part thinly, Jo Minjoon started to beat the eggs in a bowl. It was one egg for one sudachi. He put a pinch of salt on the beaten eggs, and after pouring sugar as much as the beaten eggs, he only had to put in the sudachi juice. It didn’t only give it flavor, but the components sudachi had would make the eggs creamy.
After that, he checked the state of the apple again. The apples were quite soft. As he pressed with the rice scoop, the apples would crumble without strength. Jo Minjoon boiled water to poach the sudachi curd and finish mashing the apples. After placing cotton cloth in another bowl and pouring apple juice, he felt the aroma of the apples and sugar were so strong that it hurt your nose. And the hot steam that surged out wasn’t pleasant.
After tying the ends of the cotton cloth carefully, he just had to slowly wait for the apple juice to flow out. If he squeezed it so hard like you did it with katsuobushi, then the contents on the cotton cloth would flow less than normal. He had to slowly wait for the juice to flow for a clean texture.
After that, he put pectin powder in it and boiled it down, and then freezing it was the end. While the juices boiled down, it was the time for the sudachi custard again. Jo Minjoon placed a stainless bowl on top of the boiling pot, and started to poach the beaten eggs and sudachi water in it. If the temperature was too high, then the eggs would just cook like that. Poaching was the easiest and safest method.
Only stirring with the rice scoop for the curd to not press down took 10 minutes. As he slightly touched the part of the jelly, the end parts trembled. It meant that it was finished. Jo Minjoon put down the rice scoop and put the jelly in the freezer.
As he returned to the countertop, he pressed the curd that was in the rice scoop, and it hardened with the shape it was pressed. It meant that it was completed. After Jo Minjoon put down the bowl on top of the pot, he put in the sudachi zest and butter and slowly mixed it. Because it was still hot, the butter melted easily. The zest didn’t, because it was sliced in short slices. The color was the same, so a sleek sudachi curd was completed. Jo Minjoon savored the green curd with his heart beating.
It was to the point he exclaimed in admiration like that. Sweet and sour. Those short three words could explain it all. The sudachi was covering the sweet flavor of the sugar. When it met the green apple jelly, the aroma of the melted caramel inside of it and the aroma of the apple would combine and make a perfect combination.
Actually, he had somewhat guessed the result without even tasting it.
Origins: (Too many ingredients to show)
Cooking Score: 7/10
< Footprints in front of the feet (2) > End