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Shark fin soup, this dish that was also called as wich(위츠) in china, could be categorized in two. A brown soup that had a dense colour, and a blue stew that had a lot of soup. And Chloe’s dish was a brown soup, and her shark fin had a sweet flavor like dongpo pork.
The first thing an epicurean would see when they evaluated a Chinese restaurant was how the chef handled shark fin. The difficulty of cooking shark fin, among the thousands of Chinese dishes, was so difficult it could enter the top 5. But it wasn’t that it needed special preparations. Actually, if the quality of the ingredient was good, then the dish was already half completed. If you weren’t an epicurean, you could eat all of that deliciously. Not having flavor or aroma meant that you weren’t fond of it.
However, it was different for epicureans. The stem-like texture of the shark fin was an obvious thing, but compared to other dishes, the measuring stick shark fin had was strictly based on the sauce or the soup. It was unavoidable. You could save the plain flavor of shark fin, and didn’t miss out on the original flavor of the other ingredients. Perhaps, you would tolerate it more if this shark fin was a cheap ingredient, but shark fin was an ingredient that if the quality was good, then the price would also soar through the skies. And obviously, the price of that dish could only be expensive, and if that food you inverted money on lacked even a little something…… It was also obvious that you would buy the rage of the epicureans.
And it wasn’t an exemption because they were judges. They felt the flavor more sensitively than usual, and they tried hard to feel the sticky shark fin they chewed. And their evaluations all matched.
Joseph opened his mouth.
“Chloe, what do you think is the standard for a well-made shark fin soup?”
“…….I think that it’s cooking it so the texture of the shark fin doesn’t crumble, and at the same time, controlling the flavor of the sauce for it to be not too excessive.”
“And do you think that your shark fin meets those standards?”
“I’m begging for it. At least, the best I could…..do, I can’t say that. Because I couldn’t even do the plating properly. But at least, I think that I have tried my best for the flavor. …….Is it not?”
She seemed to have some confidence, but in the end, Chloe’s voice lost confidence in the last parts. She could only do so. Because the cooking method for shark fin she knew came only by helping her mother.
And because of that, she tried the seasoning harder than ever, checked the state of the pan and the fire, and tried hard to focus on the ingredients and her situation. It was a dish which she did her best desperately than ever. But……. Just because of that, it didn’t mean that you would get good food. Alan said with a hard voice.
“Do you know that the bigger a shark is, the more mercury it contains in its body?”
“Then, only by eating a bite of this shark fin may have consumed a week of your life span, can you ascertain that this dish had that worth?”
At Alan’s questions, Chloe couldn’t reply anything. Emily let out a sigh and said.
“Chloe, our opinions about your dish all matched. One week of life span?”
It was at that moment. From the frozen face of Emily bloomed a smile. At that sudden change, Chloe couldn’t even get perplexed and just shook the muscles of her face.
“It was a soup that I could even give 15 days, instead of a week!”
“I’m saying that your shark fin was perfect. Chloe, Relax. Why is someone that made this kind of dish shaking like that?”
After Emily said happily, Joseph smiled faintly and continued to say.
“Emily said that she could give 15 days instead of a week, but as someone old, I can’t agree to that. Because in 15 days, you can eat a lot of different foods. But at the last moment, when my flame of life is about to extinguish, I think that I would remember your shark fin soup.”
Chloe didn’t reply anything. Her double eyelids seemed to shake like a puppy because of the shock, and tears slowly started to gather on her eyes. She lifted her two hands and covered her face. However, she couldn’t hide the sobbing voice. Emily hugged Chloe’s shoulders with a sorry face.
“We made the atmosphere really heavy, right? I’m sorry.”
“No, no. It’s not that……..”
Chloe sobbed and wiped off her tears. Her double eyelids that were carved deeper than usual made her eyes to be seen more clearly. She opened her eyes as if she wanted to say something, but she seemed to feel stuffed and let out a ‘whew’ing sigh again.
Jo Minjoon just looked at that Chloe. Because she had presented the pot itself, it became a deducting factor, but he wasn’t worried at all. It wasn’t that his feelings for Chloe were light at all, it was that he didn’t have the need to get worried. Her score……
“I’m sorry. I got too nervous………relyved, ugh…… it’s because I feel relieved.”
She seemed to be really nervous that she even twisted her tongue. Alan smirked and looked at her, and slightly glanced at Jo Minjoon.
“Yes. I’m going.”
Jo Minjoon walked to the front as if he was waiting for it. Alan laughed as if it was absurd.
“I still didn’t tell you to come out.”
“You even made me eat the cow phallus for my tasting experience, and I also think that it would be the same for this shark fin. Is it not?”
Jo Minjoon put the shark fin in his mouth with a face full of expectation. He thought that when the sauce immediately touched his tongue, the texture of shark fin was a little different to what he had thought. He thought that it would be closer to jelly, but it seemed more like a round vegetable. However, it was still fresh and good. He wondered that if a well-ripened bellflower got more elasticity, it would feel like this.
The sauce was also good. It seemed like there was some cinnamon, star anise, and something else mixed in soy sauce, but there was a soft flavor hidden in the dense aroma. The shredded radish or onions that are together with it, saves their original flavor densely and filled the empty flavor of shark fin. Jo Minjoon smiled. He wasn’t opposed at all to cooking nationalities, but he didn’t know why he remembered the moment he had a meal in Rose Island.
Just with food, people could get happy. There was no happier moment when those words were felt in your tongue. A nice smile appeared on Jo Minjoon’s face. It was a smile so clear that if it became a little bit denser, his mouth would rip.
“It’s the best.”
“……..What does that mean?”
“It’s just like I have said. It’s a compliment, and at the same time an explanation. The flavor is the best, and the technique is also the best. It’s also the best of what she cooked until now…….”
Jo Minjoon paused for a moment. He could feel the judges gulping and their gazes looking at his lip. And when he saw that, he felt somewhat pleasant. Jo Minjoon raised the corner of his mouth and said.
“It’s the best dish that appeared in Grand Chef’s house until now.”
Alan opened his mouth as if he was surprised. Jo Minjoon nodded.
“Yes. It’s 9 points.”
The reason why he didn’t worry at all despite her big mistake was in this. It was the first 9 points. And he believed that she wouldn’t get eliminated because of her 9-point dish.
Chloe shook her head as if she couldn’t believe it. She opened her mouth and said with a confused voice.
“There’s no way. I have never cooked shark fin properly before……”
“The first time that I made an 8 points dish was when I made risotto. And I didn’t have much experience making risotto.”
“………I made a 9 points dish? Really?”
Jo Minjoon smiled brightly.
“You are a good chef. I’m not surprised at all that you got a 9-point dish first among us.”
Chloe paused for a moment. She was a chef that didn’t even have certainty on walking in this path. No, actually, she was only a person that knew how to cook well. She couldn’t say those words in front of the other participants. Joseph opened his mouth and said with a low and soft voice.
“Minjoon’s words are correct. 9 Points. Although I don’t know his correct standards, giving 9 points to the contents of this pot, isn’t lacking at all. The control of the fine flavor, it was a soup I could feel the basics you have accumulated until now.”
“Not putting many kinds of vegetables was also a good choice. The moment the flavor got mixed, there’s a high possibility that the shark fin would only take a small part between those ingredients. From now on, I aks your dishes to be like what you had made today, Chloe.”
Alan laughed properly in a while and continued saying. Chloe unconsciously looked at Emily. Emily laughed gently and said.
“Perhaps, even if your shark fin soup came out in a big Chinese restaurant, I would still have eaten it in a good mood. Thank you for letting me eat something delicious.”
At Emily’s smile, Chloe started to cry again. Jo Minjoon lent her his handkerchief and said.
“You can also blow your nose.”
“……..Thanks. But I can’t let out any snot.”
Even after saying that, the next moment Chloe was already sniffing. Chloe blushed and turned her head away. Alan, that was looking at the two of them, glanced towards Kaya. She usually had a fierce face, but at this moment, her eyes felt sharper than usual. Alan grinned and opened his mouth.
“Minjoon, you can return. If I have to call you again, I will. And I’m talking about calf brain or sea anemone.”
“…….I will be expecting it.”
The momentary happiness crumbled in an instant. Jo Minjoon let out a sigh and returned to his place. Joseph was observing Chloe, who was trying to not sob, but he opened his mouth as if he was feeling more emotional.
“Don’t cry, Chloe, and don’t lower yourself. You know how to make something this delicious. It’s something I thought when I looked at you. Compared to the skills you have, you are really insecure. What’s the reason? Do you think that you are not an excellent person?”
“………I will tell you honestly. I don’t know the path I have to walk. Cooking is obviously what I want to do the most and what I like the most. However, I don’t know that just because I like it, choosing my life is the correct option…….. I know that. That perhaps, if I start to think that I can’t enjoy cooking anymore, I will probably give up.”
Chloe said what she was holding until now. Joseph looked at her eyes acting like that. And Chole unconsciously evaded his sight. Even if he was an old man, his eyes were excessively transparent and pure. Joseph continued talking.
“You don’t only enjoy cooking. However, if you properly start it, there will be no way that you will get sick of it. Chloe. If you don’t become a chef, what do you want to do?”
“……..I think that I would become a forensic scientist.”
At the reply that didn’t suit her at all, laughter flowed. However, that wasn’t the case for Joseph. Joseph nodded seriously and continued talking.
“You are a good chef and a good person. And you will probably also be able to become a good forensic. However, talking about my personal desires, I hope that you will become a chef. I believe that you will be able to shine more as a chef rather than a forensic scientist.”
“……..Why is that?”
“I’m curious at the dishes you will be cooking from now on. Of course…….I will probably have risen to the sky before being able to try all of that.”
Joseph talked like that and smiled faintly. Chloe too, laughed after moving her mouths that still had the marks of the tears.
The evaluation went on. Somehow, Jo Minjoon ate the food of the other participants as if it became something obvious. He looked at Martin asking for rescue, but it seemed like he had permitted this situation. It wasn’t that Jo Minjoon’s evaluation would influence the results, so thinking of it as a fun factor was nothing strange.
Anderson got 8 points with the sea anemone that didn’t seem suitable to cook at all.
After covering the sea anemone in cornstarch and fring it, you served it along with smoked paprika purée. It was that simple. But how could he save each of the flavor that well? It was easy for his fried sea anemone to be delicious, but it was instantly crushed by the point that it was difficult to make it have a deep flavor.
However, not everyone could propagate like Anderson. Joanne roasted the deer liver well, and also succeeded in making a mango yoghurt sauce that suited it well. However, she couldn’t catch the bad smell. And the result was that the score was 5.
In the case of Ivanna, she was fine. She applied butter on the tripe, put vegetables inside of it, and then baked it. She also presented a blueberry purée and she got good comments. It was unavoidable because the combination of butter and blueberry purée was really good. 6 points. It was a fine grade.
Hugo boiled down the brain in brown sauce, as if he was making ossobuco. Although the score was 6, it was eatable. He thought that the brain was going to crumble like tofu, but the unexpected elasticity was also a fresh experience.
Lastly, Sasha parboiled the octopus, applied basil and garlic, and roasted it. It was an easy choice, and it was an easy 6 points. Now that the situation became like this, although you wouldn’t know about the others, Jo Minjoon could clearly see it with his eyes who was going to get eliminated. He looked at Joanne’s back with regretful eyes.
“We will announce the eliminated participant.”
And there were no upsets.