Chapter 64: Next round-Sashimi dish showdown!
「That is…what a stunning kitchen knife. 」
Amines used her vivid kitchen knife to cut off all the poisonous parts of Hydra’s meat. She kept cutting stunningly, and finished it as sashimi one after another. Before long, all the members who gathered at this venue, including the Gourmet Master, were fascinated by her splendid work.
「What’s wrong? Why aren’t you cutting the sashimi?」
On the other hand, one of the Four Heavenly Kings called Spin, who was known as the Sacred Lion, did not hold the knife in his hand, but instead, he put it on the cutting board. He just observed Amine’s kitchen knife technique and smiled quietly.
「Have you heard about my species? Miss War Hero.」
「I believe you belong to the Sphinx species.」
「That’s right. We are monsters known as the keepers of knowledge. For us, the Sphinx, knowledge is power. And knowledge is information.」
With that said, we were astonished to see Spin preparing the meat on the cutting board. Why? Because Spin was exactly preparing the same Hydra meat that Amines was cutting now.
「Were you surprised? After collecting an innumerable amount of information about the kind of ingredients I should prepare in the last three days, I finally found my so-desired answer. But, this is not the end of it.」
Upon saying those words, Spin vividly used the knife in his hand to cut the flesh of Hydra. The method of handling the knife, which scraped the poison off the meat, was exactly the same as Amines’ method.
「You seem surprised. Yes, this is my ability, and as the “Sacred Lion” of the Four Heavenly Kings, I have the ability to copy all the skills of my opponents.」
Spin looked at us in an amusing way. Then, he began to explain his cooking plan.
「Let me tell you why I chose a sashimi match for the second round. It’s because sashimi doesn’t require a recipe. It is a simple technique-only dish. And of course, it’s a dish suitable for me. Because my ability is to copy perfectly by looking at the other party’s technique. The freshness of sashimi cut by kitchen knives. This simple skill makes my ability shine. That’s why I never lose to the opponent’s food.」
Upon hearing Spin’s cooking game, we noticed a clever trap that was set behind this designated dish. Certainly, in other dishes, the taste may differ greatly even with a slight difference in seasonings. No matter how much Spin could copy the opponent’s technique perfectly; there would be always a slight error. However, in this sashimi-cooking match, he won’t lose if he used the same skills as the opponent.
Then, both Amines and Spin cut the hydra meat at the same time and arranged it on a plate with sashimi slices. Even the arrangement was the same. The sashimi cuts were also identical.
However, the next moment, I was surprised again when I saw the seasonings taken out by both opponents. The seasonings prepared by Spin were not the same as those prepared by Amines.
「I said that I finished collecting information. So, I knew exactly what kind of seasonings I would bring for this match. And this will be the decisive difference between my sashimi and yours.」
At the same time, Spin sprinkled the prepared seasonings on the sashimi one after another. Then, with a final touch, Spin took out a special seasoning, and put it on the finished sashimi.
「That’s…Olive Oil! 」
My father shouted “No way!” with an astonished expression on his face.
「Yes, I completed the exact same dish as my opponent, but I took the liberty of having a little bit creativity in order to finish it brilliantly. I won’t be defeated now. This little creativity of mine will bring me victory.」
Spin’s dish was completed. In fact, his dish was an evolved version of Amines’ dish. His sashimi dish had a hidden taste that surpassed that of the original creator.
However, Amines, who was quietly standing in front of the seasonings, smiled slightly at Spin’s sashimi dish.
「…Yeah, I knew that you had such an ability. So I did the opposite of your choice for the last seasoning plate.」
With that said, Amines picked her prepared seasoning. It was sake*. A small bottle of sake that hung on a small plate.
「This is the completed sashimi dish prepared by me, the War Hero. 」
I doubted Amines’ remarks. This was because she didn’t do the same as Spin. She didn’t sprinkle her sashimi dish with the seasonings. Instead, she just presented the whole dish by simply dropping some sake on a small plate and holding a sashimi plate cut with her kitchen knife.
Her statement made me think as if she lost her resolve. As if she abandoned this cooking match.
「Okay. Then, both dishes are completed. According to the rules, Spin’s dish is not a foul. Rather, we admire the ability that perfectly reproduces the cooking method that stands in front of him just by looking at it once. It is truly remarkable. Well then, let’s move on to the tasting which is the most important to evaluate these dishes.」
The Gourmet Master professed those words when Amines and Spin placed their sashimi dishes on the judges’ table.
At present, I felt the situation was quite disadvantageous for us. Both the sashimi dishes had exactly the same skill, but Spin added various seasonings to the final touch. On the other hand, Amines’ dish only had a small plate filled with sake. I couldn’t help but believe that Spin’s dish was the superior here.
「Oh, this is a wonderful sashimi dish. 」
「So sweet. It melts in your mouth. It has a different texture than fish and horse sashimi. After all, it is exceptional when it comes to Hydra sashimi.」
「Above all, I congratulate this seasoning. Soy sauce, lemon, wine vinegar, and olive oil bring out the flavor of the Hydra sashimi. It certainly gives a more delicious taste. It is wonderful how you distributed this much seasoning in a well-balanced manner.」
The sashimi dishes were compared with one another. Obviously. I could see that they were on par with each other in their simple taste. However, Spin’s sashimi had a deeper taste due to the seasonings. Especially the olive oil used as the final filling. Olive oil was highly compatible with seafood and had the power to enrich the taste. To be honest, I had the pure impression that Spin’s Hydra sashimi was slightly superior in terms of taste.
「…Well then, we will announce the winner now. 」
We felt worried. The discussions between the judges, including with the Gourmet Master, had already ended, and they were ready to announce the winner of the second round.
「We will announce the results based with an emphasis on which one of you brought out the dish called sashimi, which is the designated dish for this round.」
Ahhh! Stop it please! It’s our second loss!
「The winner is… “War Hero” Amines. 」
Damn it! Only three matches left and we had to win them all, or we…Eh.
The judges’ announcement. All of us were astonished, including Spin himself.
「It can’t be! My food should be the perfect imitation of her dish! Not only that, but the decisive seasoning should have been the best! Just why!?」
「If you think so, then look at the sashimi that you have presented and the sashimi that the War Hero has presented. I want you to compare both of them.」
Yes, upon hearing the Gourmet Master’s advice, Spin put the two sashimi in his mouth. He tasted both sashimi. Spin’s sashimi was already seasoned, but Amines was not. After tasting Amines’ sashimi without the seasoning, Spin tasted it again but with her prepared sake. And then.
「…! This is! 」
「Although the difference is small; Amines’ sashimi is more chewy and fresh. 」
It became clear to Spin each time he ate more and more of Amines’ sashimi with sake. The Hydra meat should be the same. Despite the same kitchen knife skills, for some reason, Amines’ sashimi was slightly crispier and the taste came out better.
「Why…I know that I copied your skills perfectly. Besides, my last seasoning went above yours…Just why!?」
「It’s simple. 」
Amines showed off the knife in her hand to answer Spin’s question.
「You can copy my skills, but you can’t copy my weapons, am I right?」
Spin noticed it when he heard Amines’ remark. Yes, Amines’ kitchen knife was made from the Crystal Golem, an item very rare in the world, with her own creation skills. Her kitchen knife was comparable to a legendary weapon.
「The better the weapon you use, the better you will handle your prey. It is a common sense for those who use weapons on the battlefield.」
No way! So that crystal kitchen knife, which she swung at us dangerously, was the key for her victory! However, Spin was not entirely convinced by that answer.
「Even if that’s the case that alone shouldn’t make a big difference! Actually, I added some flavor to the sashimi with the seasonings I made; it should’ve been enough to win…」
「You are mistaken, Sacred Lion. 」
My father interrupted Spin’s words.
「Sashimi has important factors to take into consideration such as freshness, knife sharpness, and much more. That’s how one can enhance the taste from a specific ingredient such as sashimi.」
Spin realized something different now.
「That sake…Isn’t that just regular sake?」
「Actually. It is Irizake** and not exactly just a regular sake. 」
Irizake. I was not familiar with it, so my father explained it in detail.
「Irizake is special sake that was used before the seasoning called soy sauce was established in my world. It is made of simple ingredients such as sake, pickled apricots, dashi stock and dried bonito flakes. That’s why Amines used it instead of soy sauce. Why? Soy sauce has a delicious taste in itself and goes well with anything, but is very strong and can be overpowering.」
After I heard my father’s words, I somehow understood why Amines’ dish was the winner.
「But, you won’t find that obstacle with this special sake. The taste is mild and refreshing so to speak, it has a light flavor. That’s why it doesn’t overpower the sashimi flavor.」
My father compared Amines’ sashimi with Spin’s sashimi.
「Your food certainly tastes better as a dish. However, it was Amines who had a clear taste of what it is a sashimi dish. Did you say that sashimi dishes are the easiest to imitate and that you could win with a slight different touch at the end? That’s true. However, you’ve added too much of your own characteristics to an original designated dish, the sashimi, which is supposed to be fresh, raw and pure.」
That reason was exactly his pitfall. He was too confident in his abilities and skills. Spin noticed his flaw and literally collapsed on his knees.
「…I did my best to prepare my seasonings in advance, but it wasn’t enough. So basically she won because she only used sake at the last minute? Did you calculate all of this?」
「No, I did not. 」
Amines replied openly to Spin’s remarks.
「I couldn’t do delicate cooking by mixing seasonings with my strong arm! So the old man and the Sage Hero said I should focus on just one thing. I chose this after receiving that advice! That’s all!」
Amines’ statement shocked not only Spin but also us. Spin resorted to his copy skill to imitate the dish of his opponent. However, Spin was the one who calculated things, and not his opponent. Amines was an amateur in cooking, therefore, she went for a simple route, but a route that led her to victory.
In any case, the result was still the result. This match was a miracle match where we reversed the numbers and tied up with the enemy. Each party had now one loss and one victory.
*Sake is an alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. Often referred to as nihonshu (日本酒) in Japanese (to differentiate it from “sake” which in Japanese can also refer to alcohol in general), the drink enjoys widespread popularity and is served at all types of restaurants and drinking establishments. And as interest in Japanese cuisine has grown internationally, sake has started to become a trendy and recognizable drink around the world.
**Irizake is an old Japanese seasoning used during the Edo period, which is made by putting umeboshi (pickled Japanese apricot) into Japanese sake (rice wine), and boiling it down.