Chapter 126 -- Pork Miso Soup
The next day was dedicated to preparing meals to eat in the dungeon later. Even if I got the chance to cook or I was forced to cook later while we were in the dungeon I wanted to spend some time stocking up my Item Box with cooked food beforehand.
I served a simple breakfast to everyone so I'd have the rest of the day free. I chose Bloody Horn Bull steak which I quickly baked in the oven of my new stove, a meal my three contracted monsters found delicious. They didn't have a problem eating something so substantial for breakfast but for myself I just had some instant soup, bread and coffee.
Well, what will I make today? I pondered. Yesterday I cooked beef bowl and fried dishes... topping bowls of rice with meat and other items was really convenient, the rice underneath made everything delicious. Should I make more toppings like that? Pork fried with ginger perhaps, or something pickled in miso? Ah, speaking of which I remembered had some Orc General in miso I had prepared a while back and totally forgot about. I rummaged about in my Item Box and yup, there was a fair amount still left. The oven was still hot so I grilled it all with ginger. It was nice and easy to prepare, the sort of recipe I made a lot because it was quick and simple and went very well on top of cooked rice. How about pork chops while I was at it? The Orc General meat was really delicious after all.
Thinking of rice I realised I really wanted to eat curry again. I'm a standard-bearer for the "pork in curry" faction and I've got some Orc General meat still left but the smell, well, I like it but others such as the landlady of the "Labyrinth City Inn" might object if I filled her courtyard with the pungent smell of curry being cooked. The Orc General meat was still in my mind though, what could I cook with it... ah, I could make pork miso soup. It's hot and filling, a substantial meal in itself and would go down well in a dark dank dungeon. I didn't know how Fer and the others might appreciate it, maybe if I put in more Orc General meat than normal? I'd give it a try.
First of all, I went shopping at Net Super for cooking implements. I bought a half-sized stockpot like the ones I bought yesterday to make the pork miso soup in and also some big 28 cm-wide frying pans which were a lot deeper than the ones I had used until now. I bought four of them with lids to fit since the Black Magic stove had four burners. While I was at it I bought more bowls and Saran Wrap, wooden spatulas, ladles and the like before I moved on to buying ingredients. I had plenty of pork, potatoes, carrots and onions but I was missing essentials such as sesame seed oil, dashi soup stock, daikon radishes, burdock and konjac and of course miso. I also stocked up on some of the pork-fried-with-ginger sauce from a certain un-named company that I always use, and ketchup too since I was running low (again!)
I looked at the order list and hesitated, what had I forgotten? Ah, if you make grilled pork with ginger and pork miso soup, whether you ate it separately or on top of rice you needed shredded cabbage as a garnish. The cabbages in this world, well they didn't lend themselves to be eaten raw... I added a pack of shredded cabbage to the order at Net Super since I was more certain how it would taste. I started to think the cabbages I had just bought in this world were going to go to waste, unless maybe I could cook them? Something simple, like a casserole, Szechuan twice-cooked pork or maybe even as a hot-pot? I added some commercially available Szechaun sauce to my order from the Net Super, I'd give it a try later.
Hmm, that took quite a while. The half-size stockpot and the frying pans were a good price, I mused as I fed coins into the Net Super but really the cost of such items was trivial to me now. The order arrived and I rubbed my hands. Right then, time to cook.
First thing was to prepare the pork so I sliced the Orc General meat into thin strips about 3 cm wide then I moved on to the veggies. I peeled and scraped the potatoes and carrots before slicing and dicing them along with the daikon. The onions I cut down into rings about 5mm thick and then I shaved the burdock down and put them all into a little water before starting to heat it. The konjac jelly I similarly cut into strips and added to the water as it started to warm up.
While that was cooking I put some sesame oil in the half-size stockpot and fried the strips of Orc General's meat. When the colour of the meat changed I stirred in the vegetables and konjac and added more sesame oil then more water and soup dashi and mixed it thoroughly. I scooped off the fat as it boiled and once the vegetables softened I added the miso soup stock and let it boil some more before turning the heat off and tasting it experimentally.
Su-su-, I blew on the first spoonful, oh yeah, it's delicious.
The vegetables were cooked through and soft as they should be in a soup, not crisp as I'd want in a roast or fry. Cooking it a bit longer might have let the juices soak in a bit more, I judged critically.
This pork miso soup is quite a bit different from what I had at home when I was a youngster. Well, I used sesame seed oil because my parents used sesame seed oil but I like sesame seed oil, it smells and tastes good but the rest is quite different, like the onions. I suppose everyone has their own recipe for basic food like pork miso and I grew into using onions in my cooking and they ended up in my version of pork miso soup, in part because they add a certain sweetness to the final dish. You could use sweet potatoes instead, I suppose or taro perhaps, it will still taste all right. Pork miso soup is a dish you can change around depending on what you like and what's to hand. Perhaps it's because it's the sort of dish that you eat when it's cold and dark (like in a dungeon) and you appreciate it more then.
I left the pork miso soup to sit for about 1 hour then boiled it again and put it away hot in the Item Box. While I waited I cooked Orc General with ginger, a mix of the regular meat as well as the Orc General meat I had marinated in miso and then finished off by grilling pork chops. As I finished each batch I put it into my Item Box to reamin hot and ready to serve.
"Fuu~, should I stop now or carry on?" The idea of Szechuan twice-cooked pork was tempting me, I had the sauce so... I got to work slicing more Orc General into bite-sized pieces followed by chopping up some of the locally-bought cabbage. I oiled a frying pan, flash-fried the meat at maximum heat and when it started to change colour I dumped in the chopped-up cabbage and stir-fried them together. When the cabbage started to soften I added the sauce I just bought from the Net Super. A few moments more stir-frying and it was done. I served it into a dish and put it into my Item Box. Another super-simple dish done and ready to eat later.
Well, after that it was almost time for lunch. I considered the extra shredded cabbage I had left over, could I do anything with it? "Today's lunch is.... It's gonna be steak again." I decided. I knew the Gluttonous Trio would quite happily eat steak morning noon and night. "I'll make it like a beef bowl though."
Sensing I was being closely watched I looking behind me and sure enough Fer, Sui and Dora-chan were waiting, line abreast. It was like they had inbuilt clocks or something.
"I'm hungry, what's for lunch." That was Fer, of course.
"Give me food." demanded Dora-chan who was picking up bad habits from Fer, it seemed.
"Sui is hungry too, aruji-" Ah, darling Sui-chan is hungry? Just wait and I'll get lunch ready for you.
I cooked Wyvern steak for lunch, topping it on rice along with garlic-flavoured steak sauce, a simple and quick recipe like a beef bowl. This time I ate lunch too and I had to agree with the Gluttonous Trio it really was delicious. Then again anything with Wyvern meat was tasty, I mused, patting my full belly once the "Seconds!" had been dished out. It was maybe a bit luxurious for lunch but I was well satisfied, deciding to wait a little before doing more cooking.