God of Cooking

God of Cooking

God of Cooking
Chapter 36

Chapter 36: Chapter 36: Chef’s cooking (3)
Cho Min Joon added sesame oil to the rice and then mixed the rice with hot pepper paste and soybean paste. Koreans were conflicted about this process. People either mixed it in before or prepared it on the side. At times, they seasoned the garnish instead.
There was a reason why Cho Min Joon seasoned the rice ahead of time. First, this was a mission. It didn’t make sense to make the judges mix the seasoning themselves. And Cho Min Joon didn’t like it when Korean restaurants presented the food with separate hot pepper paste and sesame oil. He believed that a dish needed to be completed by the chef. If the customer had to complete it, it was meaningful. That was what Cho Min Joon thought.
The second reason was to keep it clean. When mixing in the seasoning after, all the other ingredients were bound to get ripped up and ruined. Not even some Koreans liked the visual of this.
After putting the Bibimbap in a bowl, Cho Min Joon flipped it onto a plate. He then added garnish to make it look like a flower. He added an egg on top, and it was complete. Cho Min Joon looked at the Bibimbap.
Freshness: 94%
Origin: (Too many ingredients for an accurate calculation)
Quality: High (Average)
Cooking Score: 6/10
6 points. He had expected this. He looked at it for a moment without surprise. 17 minutes. He had enough time to make the potato pancakes.
Cho Min Joon grated the potato. He filtered the potatoes in order to remove excess water and proceeded to slice the chives and hot peppers. Although this was inspired by a Buddhist dish, this was what set it apart.
Garlic, green onion, leek, chive, and wild chive. Those were the five forbidden ingredients in Buddhist cooking. But he had already used them. He added garlic to the seaweed soup, and he added chives to the potato pancakes. But since the topic wasn’t Buddhist cooking, he didn’t have to worry about that. What was important was the flavor and nutrition.
Cho Min Joon added flour to the potatoes and mixed in the chives and hot peppers. He then put it on top of a frypan. He had to use an appropriate amount of oil. If he used too much, it would become too crispy all over and lose flavor.
But that didn’t mean he could use a little bit either. If it stuck to the pan, the shape would be ruined.
Luckily, Cho Min Joon used his experience to make the perfect potato pancakes.
[Potato Pancakes]
Freshness: 92%
Origin: (Too many ingredients for an accurate calculation)
Quality: High (Average)
Cooking Score: 6/10
6 points. Cho Min Joon’s eyebrows shook. He only had 2 minutes left. Cho Min Joon poured the perilla seed seaweed soup into a bowl. Westerners weren’t familiar with seaweed, but the judges had no reason to refuse. He actually added the perilla powder in order to make them feel more familiar. Westerners weren’t friendly with perilla seeds either, but it would at least make the texture less slippery.
Cho Min Joon put the bowls on a tray. Perilla seed seaweed soup, potato pancakes, cabbage rolls, and Bibimbap.
And something unexpected happened. The windows flickered before a bigger status window popped up. Cho Min Joon stared at it blankly. And then another window popped up soon afterward.
[You’ve made a harmonious meal. It has a specific theme.]
[The ‘structure score’ function has been lifted.]
[The skill, ‘Understanding Korean Cooking’ has leveled up.]
[Would you like to check the structure score?]
Cho Min Joon looked at ‘Yes’ with a confused face. At that moment, another window popped up.
[Cho Min Joon’s Vegetarian Korean Cooking]
List: Bibimbap, Perilla seed seaweed soup, Cabbage rolls, potato pancakes.
Average cooking score: 6/10
Structure score: 7/10
Evaluation: The menu is made for vegetarians. The elegant plating and the clean flavors make for a comfortable meal.
Cho Min Joon raised his brow. He had a new function. Before he could feel anything about it, the buzzer went off along with Allan’s voice.
“Please take your hands off! Time’s up!”
Allan looked at everyone without much emotion. Cho Min Joon gulped. The dice had been rolled. Would his meal be able to touch the hearts of the judges? Cho Min Joon looked around him. He saw all sorts of different dishes. Ratatouille, lasagna, Cuban sandwiches, and more.
Ba-dump. He felt his heart pound. Cho Min Joon licked his lips. He had no choice but to feel nervous. The reason why he was so calm the last few missions was because of the cooking scores. But he realized that the cooking scores weren’t everything. And right now, his cooking was worth 6 points.
All he could trust was his own judgment. This might have been the first time he was actually evaluated for his own skills.
Cho Min Joon looked at Allan with a nervous face. When he thought he met eyes with Allan, he said, “We’ll begin the evaluations. Please take turns coming up to the front.”
Cho Min Joon was in the second row. The two contestants in front of him went up to the front with their dishes. One of them was Chloe. Cho Min Joon looked closely at Chloe’s dish. It was worth 8 points. That was the best score Chloe could get.
Chloe’s dish was buckwheat noodles stir-fried in oil. Below the noodles was a brown sauce that seemed to be soy sauce and citron mixed together, and she fried an egg and decorated the middle of the plate. It looked delicious just by the looks of it.
It looked easy, but it was actually difficult. It wasn’t easy frying an egg while keeping the yolk soft, and the fact that it was her first time made it even more difficult. She had to make sure that the thin noodles didn’t burn while also making sure it was chewy. Even the smallest mistake could make the dish turn into compost.
Allan picked up a fork and cut into the egg. As soon as he did, the egg yolk came flowing out. The other contestants gulped at the sight. The same went for Chloe. She hadn’t made something so delectable in quite a while.
Allan tasted the egg along with the noodles. He first tasted the citron as well as the soy sauce. It felt as though the citron made the soy sauce spread throughout his mouth even more. But when he started chewing the noodles, the citron scent soon went away. It was then replaced with a refreshing taste. The noodles were giving off both an oily flavor as well as a savory one due to the egg yolk.
‘Beautiful?’ No, it couldn’t be described in such simple terms. It was wild. It was charismatic. It was a flavor that commanders tasted before a war. Allan tried to keep a straight face. The same went for the other judges. Allan spoke first, “Thank you, Chloe.”
Chloe didn’t respond and smiled awkwardly. It was clear that she was nervous. Allan asked in a calm voice, “Did you make this for the first time?”
“No. My mother used to make this for me. But the fried egg was my personal touch. My mother just gave it to me half-cooked.”
“… Your mother sounds like quite the cook.”
“Of course. I’ve never seen a better cook than my mother.”
“Is that why you decided to highlight one of your mother’s cooking today?”
In response, Chloe’s lips spasmed. She spoke in a timid voice, “Hm… I told you this recipe is my mother’s, and you asked me if that was why I highlighted it today. That means you liked my cooking… No, you liked my recipe. And if you liked my recipe, that means you liked my…”
Allan cut her off. Chloe stopped her rambling and looked at Allan. Her heels tapped on the ground below her. Allan continued, “I’ll be direct. It’s a great dish, Chloe. The food was delicious, and you made the key components come alive. Especially the mixture of citron and soy sauce.”
“I agree. I didn’t know I’d be so impressed by something you tried for the first time. I enjoyed it. Thank you.”
Emily spoke after Allan. Chloe smiled and looked at Joseph. Since two of the judges gave her good evaluations, she would avoid being disqualified. Joseph smiled as he said, “I enjoyed it, Chloe. You passed.”
“Thank you!”
Chloe cheered with joy and headed up to the 2nd floor. But that good vibe came to a halt in no time. The contestant next to Chloe presented a baguette sandwich with cucumber, tomato, cheddar cheese, and potatoes.
It was edible, but nothing was special about it. And the judges’ faces said the same. The judges chewed on the sandwich. Meanwhile, Joseph spat it out as if the baguette was too hard.
They said a lot after that. It was typical. They questioned how he was still here. ‘Do you really think we’ll evaluate this?’ In the end, the conclusion was this…
“Jamie, you’re up for disqualification. Please go back to your position.”
After that was Cho Min Joon’s turn. Allan raised his voice, “Cho Min Joon, Helena. Please come up.”
Cho Min Joon headed up with his tray. Cho Min Joon was to be evaluated first. The judges approached. Allan looked down at the perilla seed seaweed soup without much sentiment.
“Is this… seaweed soup?”
“Yes. I cooked it with perilla seeds.”
“I’ve tried seaweed soup before, but never with perilla seeds. How do we eat this?”
“However you want.”
“Everyone eats this in Korea, right?”
“Yes. I revised a Buddhist dish.”
The judges tasted the perilla seed seaweed soup. After that, they tasted the Bibimbap, the rolls, and then the potato pancakes. Emily sighed and said, “This one… is difficult.”
“I agree.”
Allan nodded and looked at Cho Min Joon. Cho Min Joon didn’t know what they meant. Was it hard to accept the flavors? Or was it hard to judge it? At that moment, Joseph said, “Min Joon. We’re going to have a meeting. Please step back.”
Cho Min Joon took five steps back without a word. Emily whispered in a quiet voice, “What are we going to do?”
“… It was good.”
“I liked it, too. People might have different opinions about it, but I liked it.”
“It was well made. I’ve never tried Buddhist dishes, but it was full of Korean charms. However…”
Allan trailed off. Emily knew why Allan was hesitant. Joseph spoke in a sad voice, “There’s no main.”
“… That’s right.”
It was just as they said. What the judges felt was missing was not Cho Min Joon’s cooking score or the fact that it was foreign. It was the absence of a main dish.
Bibimbap could be considered a main dish. But the flavors were too weak to call it that.
Allan opened his mouth.
“This is perfect as homemade food. Everything was good, and they all went together. But…”
Allan let out a sigh. If it was just that Bibimbap, they might have given him a high score. The Bibimbap was good, and the structure was decent.
However, Cho Min Joon made multiple dishes hoping the overall meal was complete. That was the problem. Amongst many similar dishes, there was no single dish with an entrancing and stimulating taste. They were all relatively bland.
That also meant he fully understood each dish. But…
‘It’s too weak.’
Allan squinted his eyes. The judges continued to discuss the matter.
And then they came to a decision.
“Min Joon. Please come here.”
Joseph opened his mouth. Joseph saw Cho Min Joon’s anxious face and showed him a warm smile.
“I actually enjoyed this one out of all your other dishes. It’s not a matter of flavor. It’s a matter of heart. Everything you’ve made so far was delicious, but you were greedy. And that’s understandable. As a contestant, you want to make dishes that’ll take you far.”
Joseph stopped there. He then looked at the other judges.
“Emily and Allan agree. These dishes were very warm. They weren’t greedy while also providing a delicious and hearty meal. It felt like a grandmother prepared it. But it also didn’t taste like a gourmet dish.”
Cho Min Joon didn’t say anything. He just listened to Joseph. Joseph sighed. He seemed to be having a hard time.
“So I have no choice but to apologize to you because it was a great dish, but we’re not customers. We’re judges… So we can’t judge this based on your heart alone, Min Joon.”
Joseph looked at Cho Min Joon. Cho Min Joon slowly closed his eyes. He already knew what he was going to say. And he was right.
“I’m sorry. But you’re up for disqualification.”