Ch 127 -- Boiled Pork and Pickled Soft-boiled Egg
Well, what shall I make now? I asked myself as my contracted monsters went off for yet another nap after gobbling down their lunch of Wyvern steaks over rice.
Let's see, I had bought black bread in Doran's shops, quite a lot of it. That meant stew or soup that would go with the bread to make it more palatable. Stew? I could make the beef stew I made once before. It had turned out to be quite popular, in fact so popular that there was none left after a single meal, I recalled. However, I patted the stove beside me familiarly, I could cook a lot more at one time now. I ordered up two more half-sized stockpots from the Net Super along with butter, a can of demi-glace sauce and a bottle of red wine to fill in the items missing from my beef stew recipe. Right, let's get started, peel, peel, chop, chop, slice, slice...
"Boil until the vegetables become soft then add the can of demi-glace sauce and ketchup, a bit more boiling and they'll be ready." I said to remind myself as I shredded lots more cabbage and rinsed it thoroughly in clean water. When I was a student I used to earn some money doing part-time work in the college dorm's kitchens helping out with the cooking and cleaning. Despite that experience I'm not actually that good at things like preparing cabbage but it's OK if there are occasional thick slices, it's... artisanal, I told myself. Artisanal, yup. Now what did I need to do now? Ah yes, add the demi-glace sauce and the ketchup and stir it into the vegetables then lower the heat and let it simmer. Having done that I shredded more cabbage until...
"Fu~, is this it?" I had nearly run out of cabbages to slice up. I looked at the giant pile of shredded cabbage and shrugged, I hadn't really meant to make so much but it was easy repetitive work and the extra wouldn't go to waste. I had plans for the remaining cabbages so I put down my knife and stored the shredded cabbage away in my Item Box. After that I peeked into the pots on the stove where the beef stew was simmering. I stirred the stew some more, listening to the sounds of it bubbling away in the pots. Yosh, that was going well.
What will I make next...? I'd like to make hamburger steak but I just used up all the ground minced meat and it would take me a lot of time and effort to make more right now. Ah, remembering working in the dorm kitchens brought to mind another part-time job I had as a student, working in a ramen restaurant. I could make boiled pork, an essential ingredient for ramen but it was tasty enough served over rice like gyuudon beef bowl. I shouldn't take me much time to prepare it and after that I can just let it simmer away like the beef stew. Thinking about ramen that suggested soft-boiled eggs as another option, hmmm. Making boiled pork meant ordering another half-sized stockpot from the Net Super but I added cooking string, leeks, garlic and ginger and eggs to the list.
First of all I tied up pieces of Orc meat in tight bundles with the cooking string. It didn't have to look pretty and it's a hassle to do it properly, the way the pros in ramen restaurants do. The key thing is to keep the pieces of pork bundled up and prevent them from falling apart when they're being boiled so I just wound the string around and around the lumps of meat until they looked about the right shape. I oiled up a frying pan and set it to a high heat before searing the Orc meat bundles to seal the outsides. Now for the boiling.
I put water, soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar in the new half-size stockpot and got it started boiling while I added the white root parts of some leeks and the remaining onions and carrots, crushed garlic and sliced ginger. Once it was boiling properly I added the bundles of seared Orc meat and let it cook thoroughly.
While that was all happening I made a lot of soft-boiled eggs. A tip, if you make a small hole in the bottom of the shell before boiling the eggs it makes them easier to peel afterwards. I used to use a safety pin to do this before I got one of those gadgets to do it properly when it was on sale at a 100 yen store. Hmmm, I had a look in the Net Super and yes, there it was so I ordered one. It wasn't 100 yen, of course (plus sales tax) but at three copper coins it was still pretty cheap.
Drill a hole in the shells with the gadget, boil the eggs for about 6 minutes letting them roll around gently so that the yolks get fixed in the middle, soak them in cold water and peel off the shells. After that I turned the heat off under the boiled pork pot. I'd let it cool down and leave it overnight to marinate in the stock before it was ready to take out and store. What could I make now? The stew was still in progress, I had to wait for the boiled pork to cool down, the eggs were done. The burners were all in use but the oven? Hmmm, maybe roast beef?
I carved a generous piece of Bloody Horn Bull meat, dressed it in olive oil and then coated it with grated garlic, salt and coarse pepper before putting it in the pre-heated oven on the top shelf on a cooking sheet. I was starting to get an idea how the oven performed but I kept a close eye on the cooking meat and when it turned a proper brown colour I took it out, wrapped it in aluminium foil and let it cook through with the residual heat as I had with the Giant Deer steaks I had cooked yesterday. I had lots of raw garlic to hand so I didn't use the herb salt this time though. After my patience ran out I unwrapped the roast and cut a slice of the meat. It looked well-cooked, brown and crisp on the outside but a vivid pink in the middle, oozing juices. Now to taste it...
Munch. Umu, it's delicious. My attempt to take another bite was interrupted by-
"Have you cooked dinner?" Fer, initially.
"I'm hungry, you know-" Dora-chan, sequentially.
"Food, food-" Sui, finally.
Uh huh, these three guys definitely won't miss a chance to interrupt just when I'm about to eat. Well, this roast beef wasn't meant to be for dinner, but I haven't made dinner yet and this roast won't be enough for the Gluttonous Three, never mind myself... roast beef sandwiches, perhaps they'd do the job? I've got to save some of this roast beef for myself at all costs. Protect the meat! And I've got all that shredded cabbage, ummm, yosh.
"Please wait a moment." I ordered, taking a peek into the pot of boiled pork before I took it off the stove and put it down out of the way. It was looking really good and smelling even better. I'd leave it overnight to grow cold and let the flavour of the broth completely soak through the cooked meat to make it really yummy. I'd do the same later with the soft-boiled eggs, putting them in a saucepan to marinate in a mixture of soy sauce and mirin overnight too.
Once I'd dealt with the boiled pork I started on the roast beef sandwiches. I bought bread and butter and Japanese-style onion dressing from the Net Super. I heated the bread in the oven, spread butter on the slices and topped them with shredded cabbage before adding slices of juicy roast beef and coating them with onion dressing and another slice of buttered bread. I might have used a steak sauce instead of the onion but the shredded cabbage really called for a more acidic dressing taste-wise. I made a pile of sandwiches and put them out on dishes.
"It's ready-" I said redundantly as I was pushed rudely aside and the sound of chomping jaws filled the courtyard.
"This meat is delicious." Fer said as he stopped for breath. "But what's with all this other stuff?"
Fer, if I only ate meat I would die, I told him telepathically. Just eat your greens like a good little puppy. I kept that last thought to myself. I still had some roast beef left over and I was ready to defend it to the last. Protect the beef!
"I don't get you, big guy." Dora-chan said, a satisfied expression on his face as he finished off yet another sandwich. "It's not just the meat, the rest of it, the veggies inside and the sauce, the bread too makes it tastier to eat." I agreed but I was surprised that Dora-chan thought the same way. He was quite discriminating in his tastes.
"Sour sauce and vegetables and meat together, mmmm tasty~" Sui-chan was a gourmet in her own way, I supposed.
Fer and Sui had "Seconds!" several times but somehow I only consumed two sandwiches. The roast beef was very satisfying. And I had some left over, I thought to myself smugly. The roast beef had been successfully protected, tucked away safe in my Item Box. I put the saucepan of marinating soft-boiled eggs and the half-sized stockpot of boiled pork back in my Item Box too. I'd take them back out once I returned to my room and let them stay out overnight. The Item Box was a great convenience, keeping hot food hot but anything I cooked that needed time to achieve results, like marinating eggs had to be done outside the Item Box where time ran as normal. Finally I turned off the Black Magic Cooking Stove and put it away in the Item Box too.
"Okay, I'm going back to my room." I announced as Dora-chan's eyelids flickered sleepily. A full belly of roast beef will do that to you, I thought to myself smugly. "Oh, and tomorrow I'm going to the Adventurers Guild at noon."
"Nuuu, what for?" Fer inquired, his own eyelids drooping heavily.
"What for? To get that Earth Dragon meat, what else?" I replied. Fer's eyes snapped open. "Elland-san said it would be ready after three days." I reminded him.
"Oooooh," Fer started to drool, "three days, you're right... we can finally eat Dragon..." Fer fixed me with a glare. "We'll be eating Dragon tomorrow night, understand?"
"Yeah yeah." Dragon meat, I wonder what it tastes like. Fer seemed very keen on it and we had eaten some very tasty meat together, could it really be as good as he claimed?
Once I was back in the room I put the stockpot of boiled pork on the desk to cool down and parked the saucepan of marinating soft-boiled eggs beside it, then I put Sui's bag on the bed.
"Sui, I have a small favour to ask you, is it OK just now?" I said. Sui looked out from her bag.
"Whaaat izzit, aruji-" Sui-chan sounded a bit sleepy. Sorry for interrupting your post-dinner siesta, Sui.
"Anyways, can you make a sword like this one for me, the same way you made that knife?" I took out the short sword I had purchased so long ago (and never used) from my Item Box. Sui-chan looked closely at the sword.
"Gotcha-." She trembled a bit. Was something wrong? "It may take a bit longer to make than the knife, is that OK?"
"Of course It's OK. Well then, please do it." I handed several lumps of Mithril ore to Sui and sat down to wait. It hadn't hurt her when she had made the knife earlier, making a sword shouldn't hurt her this time but I worried just the same. I didn't interrupt her though and after an hour or so had passed----
"Aruji-, I made it." Sui extruded a gleaming sword. I quickly Appraised it.
[ Mithril short sword + ]
A high-quality Mithril short sword.
Oh wow, that's truly amazing. Just what I'd expect from Sui. "Thank you so much, Sui." I said sincerely. As a reward I bought her strawberry shortcake, pudding a la mode and cream puffs from the Net Super.
"Sui, this is a thank you for working so hard, help yourself." I pushed the dish with the desserts towards her.
"Can I eat-?" she asked hesitantly. She knew she shouldn't snack between meals. Sui-chan was a good girl.
"It's okay this time, eat up." I winked at her. "But don't let Fer and Dora-chan that I gave you this."
"Well, secret~" Sui said conspiratorially, ingesting the strawberry shortcake. "Mmmm, sweet and delicious~" After all Sui likes sweet things and she deserved a treat for her hard work making the sword for me so it was fine.
Thanks to Sui we would be able to make weapons in an emergency, even in a dungeon if necessary. I examined the Mithril sword carefully. Boy it looked sharp, just like the knife Sui had made earlier. Very sharp. I resisted the temptation to run the tip of my finger along the edge to test it by touch. Not a good idea.
In fact I had been thinking about asking Sui-chan to make me one or two Mithril kitchen knives but this kind of sharpness was, well, TOO sharp. I was scared really, after all every now and then my hand slips or I make a mistake when I'm cutting and preparing food and if I was using something this sharp I'd run out of fingers pretty quickly. The kitchen knives I can buy from the Net Super will be enough for me, I decided. Weapons though, that was different. I'd want something as sharp as possible in that case to protect myself. With this Mithril short sword, the way it felt in my hand, even someone like me whose motto is Safety First could use it successfully. All I'd have to do is hit something with it and it would cut through. Skin, scales, armour, bone, shields, even other swords, I felt that nothing could stop it.
Thank you truly for your assistance, Sui.