Chapter 17: Chapter 17: 100 Chefs (2)
7 points, this was Cho Min Joon’s limit. However, Cho Min Joon didn’t feel pressured. The truth is, producing 7-point dishes wasn’t done solely with his capabilities alone. He was only able to reach that score thanks to his system, which predicted the potential of his recipes.
Without that system, Cho Min Joon would have made dishes that were worth 5 points. After all, he would not have been able to make sure if a recipe would be good or not. He was blessed just by the fact that he didn’t have to worry about a recipe failing on him.
But compared to Kaya, it wasn’t as big of a blessing. She was a real and bona fide genius. She wasn’t just talented like Cho Min Joon, she truly had the potential. It wasn’t appropriate to say they had the same kind of skills.
Hence, he thought that it was foolish to compare himself to Kaya. Cho Min Joon was a rational person. He believed that if it was a problem that would only hurt him by worrying about it, it was better to not think about it at all. It was truly pathetic to be jealous of her talent, which he could never have.
“We’ll give you 1 hour. Please finish within that time.”
In response, the contestants began charging towards the container. The sight of dozens of people running towards the container was quite the spectacle, even Marco and Amanda were running. Cho Min Joon just stood and watched since they were given 1 hour anyway. If that was the case, there was not much of a need to grab a catfish right this instant.
With that thought, Cho Min Joon walked over to the room with the basic materials. Kaya also walked alongside Cho Min Joon. Cho Min Joon glanced back at Kaya. But Kaya stared at Cho Min Joon and asked, “What are you looking at?”
“You’re not going to catch a catfish?”
“It doesn’t matter if we do that right now or later. I’d rather gather other materials and avoid chaos.”
“You’re doing the same thing. By complimenting me, you’re complimenting yourself.”
Cho Min Joon smirked and didn’t answer. There were quite a few people collecting other materials before catching the catfish. Among them was a blonde man with handsome features. Anderson… Cho Min Joon thought for a moment. ‘What was his surname again?’ He didn’t remember. All he remembered was one thing. He was the one who placed 2nd.
Cho Min Joon looked at Anderson’s status window. And that’s when he was reminded of his surname.
Cooking Level: 7
Breadmaking Level: 7
Gourmet Level: 8
Decoration Level: 7
He had the same cooking level as Kaya. Also, his breadmaking and decoration levels were higher than hers. It was understandable. Russo was an elite who was taught to cook at a young age. Therefore, it was a given that he had high scores. However, he lost to Kaya. ‘Why? Because he didn’t have a dramatic past like hers?’
‘He probably didn’t cook well enough.’
Even if they were both level 7s, Kaya was at a whole another level. The cooking level didn’t consider the senses that allowed her to torch her food perfectly. As far as Cho Min Joon knew, Kaya’s skills were much more than that. She had outstanding senses. She had the talent to bring out the best flavors out of any ingredient she’s given.
Cho Min Joon quickly picked his ingredients. They were all bought on the same day from the same place, but there was still a difference in quality. Rather than fighting over the catfish that were still alive, it was wiser to pick the best out of the other ingredients.
Cho Min Joon decided to make catfish meatball soup. He first wanted to make spicy soup, but spicy soup tended to heavily rely on soybean paste and hot pepper paste. How far could such a dish go in a foreign cooking competition? It wasn’t a good choice if he wanted to pull out deep flavors. On top of that, only Koreans liked spicy soup, that didn’t mean that Westerners would like it as well.
And so, Cho Min Joon decided to make meatball soup with a hint of spicy flavors. The materials were quite simple. Tofu, lemon, starch, eggs, pepper, radish, cilantro, green onions, salt, and soy sauce.
They were common ingredients in most households, with the most unique ingredient being cilantro. Many were picking out quality materials such as saffron or salami, but Cho Min Joon didn’t let them influence him. He calculated that he could get a better score by using regular ingredients and producing extraordinary flavors.
Cho Min Joon put his ingredients at his cooking station and headed to catch the catfish. People were almost done bringing their catfish over. This was his first time catching catfish with his bare hands, but he felt confident.
Cho Min Joon scooped out a catfish and returned to his cooking station. It was as big as his forearm. Not only that, it was so strong that he struggled to keep it from escaping his hands.
Making the catfish faint was simple. People either hit it against the counter or drowned it in salt water. If not, some of them just chopped their head off. Cho Min Joon decided to go with the third method. When the catfish looked up at Cho Min Joon on top of the cutting board, Cho Min Joon chopped its head off.
Along with the chopping sound, the catfish stopped moving, meaning that it was now probably dead. Cho Min Joon stabbed his knife into its gills. Blood then poured out and…that was it.
Cho Min Joon carefully cut off the gills. He then cut the fish’s stomach to pull out the intestines, also remembering to take out the bones. After that, he removed the outer skin. He didn’t have to descale the fish since it didn’t have any scales. However, the outer skin was very persistent. When cooked, it made the fish taste chewy, but it wasn’t easy to properly cook it.
Cho Min Joon began by peeling off the skin. It was a crucial step to peel it off as thinly as possible. Luckily, he succeeded.
At that moment, Allen passed in front of Cho Min Joon. He wondered if he was just looking around, but that wasn’t it. He stood in front of Amanda’s cooking station and remarked.
“The intestines burst.”
She made a mistake while cutting the stomach, causing the intestines to rub all over the skin. Amanda answered with a troubled face, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve never handled catfish before…”
“Forget it. Hand over your badge.”
Amanda’s face grew pale. Cho Min Joon tried not to pay attention, but he couldn’t help but overhear. Allen then spoke with a formal voice.
“Thank you for your efforts.”
It was a short declaration. Amanda almost burst into tears as she shouted.
“I-I put everything on the line for this competition!”
Allen didn’t hesitate even amidst her voice of desperation. He slowly looked around at the other contestants. Allen then said, “Did anyone here not put everything on the line for this?”
No one answered. Allen looked at Amanda with a cold look in his eyes.
“If you’re that passionate, prove it with your skills. All I can see right now is a broken catfish. I don’t want to put that disgusting thing in my mouth. Amanda, are you a chef? If so, give me your badge! That is unless you’re a crazy chef insisting on putting trash into your customers’ mouths.”
Amanda took off her badge with her hands visibly trembling. Allen took the badge with a straight face and looked around at the other contestants as he said, “If any of you fail at cleaning the catfish, you’ll be kicked out. This isn’t a cooking school. If you don’t know how to handle your materials, you have no right to be here. Get a hold of yourself.”
Everyone tensed up, including Cho Min Joon. The realization that they could be disqualified at any moment woke all of them up. Cho Min Joon watched Amanda leave in tears. He couldn’t leave like that. Even if he had to be disqualified for not being good enough, he at least wanted to finish his dish.
Cho Min Joon didn’t take long. What Cho Min Joon did first was cut off the catfish’s head. Cho Min Joon boiled water in a pot and put in the catfish head, radish, and green onions. He also took out the fish bones and added that as well. His plan was to make a broth. After adding lemon, he began working with the body of the fish.
Every time he scraped the fish with his knife, the meat turned into fish flakes. Catfish was normally known to be soft, so it wasn’t hard to handle. After that was simple. After squeezing out the water from the tofu, he sliced the cilantro. After that, he mixed it all together and rubbed starch on the fish.
This step was important. If he didn’t rub the starch on properly, the meatballs weren’t going to stay intact. This was a hard dish for the regular Cho Min Joon. There was a chance for failure.
However, not this time. Cho Min Joon knew the mission was going to be catfish, so he prepared ahead of time. He made catfish meatball soup whenever he could, and he analyzed the flavors every time. This was the result of his efforts. There was no room for error whatsoever.