Chapter 15 – Making A Lunch Box
We moved from Tōjō’s room to the kitchen for cooking practice.
“So, what are you going to teach me?”
She had changed into an apron before I knew it.
I brought the one I used at home in advance, so I put it around my waist and spoke.
“You won’t be able to copy anything that’s too hard, so I think we should make a simple side dish first.”
There was a total of three candidates in mind.
Karaage1Karaage is a Japanese cooking technique in which various foods—most often chicken, but also other meat and fish—are deep fried in oil., Vienna sausage, rolled omelet.
With this, even beginners who were new to cooking could follow it.
It was the most popular side dish in the lunch box.
I presented the choices to see if it was okay for both of them, and they nodded.
Kishimoto asked in a lively voice.
“Then what are you going to make first?”
If I had to put a difficulty level, it was the lowest of the three side dishes.
You just have to cut the sausage and grill it on a frying pan.
Tōjō, who heard me, immediately picked up the kitchen knife.
“…I feel something significant about you holding it.”
“Do you want to die, dude?”
She was used to handling a knife because she was in the kendo club, so she was flamboyantly brandishing the kitchen knife in the air.
It may be because of the combination of red hair and fierce eyes, but it looked incredibly bloody.
Anyway, waiting for her excitement to subside, I put a red Vienna sausage on the cutting board and explained it to her in an easy-to-understand manner.
“Cut a third of Vienna’s torso with a knife. If you repeat this twice, there will be four tentacles, and if you repeat it four times, it’s eight. It’s easy, right?”
“Huh, this is nothing!”
After saying that, she started trimming the Vienna sausage skillfully.
As we worked together, a pack of Vienna sausage was quickly finished.
I decided to add a bit of decoration here.
Kishimoto, who was watching us cook, murmured.
“You need to make eyes for the octopus.”
As I said so, I poked black sesame with a toothpick on the octopus-shaped sausage.
It was the end of the preparation.
I put the frying pan on the fire and poured in the trimmed Vienna sausage when the iron plate was moderately heated.
The Vienna sausage slowly rolled out as heat was applied.
Unlike Korean Vienna sausages, which were mostly brown, Japanese ones were characterized by red outside and white inside.
The red color was made with pigment, and the white inside was because it had a high flour content like a sausage made by mixing fish meat.
It didn’t need any special cooking skills, so I cooked the surface to the point where it turned yellowish and put it on a plate prettily.
Shortly afterwards, Tōjō, who followed me with a plate of roasted Vienna sausage, shook her hand with a proud look.
“Huh. If I stumble, it’s no big deal!”
It’s not bad to be full of confidence when cooking.
We simultaneously presented the plate to Kishimoto, who decided to taste it.
Then, Kishimoto, who held up wooden chopsticks with a gesture that seemed to be stroking her beard.
After dabbing the yellow mustard, my roast Vienna sausage was sucked into her mouth.
Kishimoto opened her eyes as soon as she put it in her mouth.
“It just tastes like a normal Vienna sausage?”
“Right, I didn’t have anything mixed.”
Kishimoto, who tasted the sausage I baked first, ate the sausage that Tōjō baked this time.
“Oh, I think it’s okay except for the burnt outside.”
When I heard her, I picked up a sausage baked by Tōjō and put it in my mouth.
“It’s a bummer to control the fire, but it’s her first time, so I should give her a pass.”
Her lips twitched when she heard our assessment.
But there was still a long way to go.
This was because there were the biggest ones left, egg rolls and karaage, the two biggest side dishes of the lunch box.
It was about two hours after the chaotic cooking class ended.
Tōjō Karen, who gained confidence with the easiest to make, Vienna sausage, was completely demotivated by a series of failures.
“Sigh… I didn’t expect cooking to be this difficult.”
“It’s okay! If you practice a lot, you’ll get better soon!”
You can’t be full at the first drink, but even considering that, this one was seriously clumsy.
First of all, trying to use only high heat unconditionally was a major cause of failure.
I didn’t know there were people in the world who didn’t understand that there were low and medium heat in the gas stove.
While I was looking away for a while, she made a karaage of coal rolls and controlled the fire arbitrarily, saying it was too slow, then she tried the food she made and looked indescribable.
“Ugh… Ugh… Ha!”
Tōjō swallowed what she put in her mouth, barely spitting it out, and after that, her chopsticks only went toward the food I made.
What she made was almost like food waste.
I taught her how to use a timer for her, who lacked patience when cooking.
It was better to set the time exactly when the cooking ended for someone lacking in concentration.
Due to time constraints, I had to end it here for today, but I wrote down the recipe on a notepad and asked her to practice again.
Then Tōjō carefully hugged the recipe I wrote in her arms as if it were a treasure.
“Well, we should have dinner before it’s too late.”
I decided to make Chinese food, which was my main specialty, after making side dishes for lunch boxes and checking the remaining ingredients.
Grease a large wok, add a lot of sliced green onions, and stir with a ladle.
This was to make green onion oil, and it was an act to add flavor to the oil and the dish.
It’s impossible to get the high heat required for Chinese cooking if it’s a gas stove in a typical home, but there was no lack of firepower here.
Seeing the green onion oil boiling in an instant, I mixed the eggs and instant rice in a wok.
It was like a ship that meets strong winds and waves in the sea, and every time I waved my arm, a golden wave bounced from inside the black wok dazzled our eyes.
Lastly, simply season it with salt and pepper, then put it in a rice bowl, shape it, and turn it over on a plate.
The golden fried rice, which was completed about five minutes after starting cooking, showed its beautiful appearance on a plate.
Kishimoto eyes shined at the appearance of sodas.
It was the same for Tōjō, who was next to her.
When I handed them a spoon, the two began to eat the fried rice in a hurry.
I left something to eat separately, so when I was eating fried rice alone as if savoring it, Kishimoto suddenly asked me curiously.
“Since when have you been so good at cooking Ryu-chan?”
When I heard her question, I recalled the old days.
“When was that…”
The first time I thought I should make a lunch box myself was during the second semester of the first grade.
Unlike when I was a middle school student who went to school near my house, I had to leave home at least around 7:00 to be in time for high school.
So, my mother woke up at dawn every day and made me a lunch box, and whenever I saw her tired face, I felt sorry for it, so I thought I should make a lunch box myself from the second semester.
The first day I made my lunch box, I woke up at 4 a.m. and started making it, but I ended up skipping lunch because I failed to make enough food to eat.
The next day, I learned how to catch eggs without breaking them and managed to finish them at around 7:30 in the morning. Of course, I was late that day.
As time went by, the time it took for me to make lunchboxes decreased little by little, and one day I woke up at 4 a.m. and realized that even if I made my lunchbox, the sun would still not rise outside.
By repeating the same act every day without missing out, I became better.
My father, who watched the whole effort silently from the sidelines, allowed me to enter the store kitchen after this day.
It felt like I was recognized as the successor of Mikoya, the restaurant containing my parents’ youth.
After hearing all the story, I calmly told, Kishimoto said, whipping her eyes with a handkerchief taken out of her arms.
“It’s so touching that you think about making your own lunch box for your hard-working mother!”
“Who does it for you?”
“Huh? Of course, it’s my mom who’s making it with love?”
She was such a devoted daughter.
As I ate while chatting, the fried rice on the plate quickly disappeared.
I smacked my lips with regret but asked them for their plates to wash the dishes.
Tōjō stopped me from washing the dishes because the employee of the house could do it, because we came to play, it didn’t seem polite, so he even cleaned up the mess himself.
He said he would take me by car as he did when we came, but I refused because the subway was still running.
Then Tōjō, who came to meet us directly to the subway station, mumbled her lips and bowed her head.
“Thank you both for today. I won’t forget this favor.”
Then, smiling happily, Kishimoto, who asked Tōjō to exchange her e-mail address first, waved and said,
“See you at school tomorrow!”
It seemed that the two naturally became friends because of today’s incident.
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