Finally, it took a lot longer than I planned but it is finished
Magi Craft Meister 331
11-33 Found at Last!
The time seemed to pass very quickly as they read books related to alchemy, and it was midday before they knew it.
“Jin, Reinhart, let us have lunch together.”
So said the Empress as she came in.
“Do not expect too much from it, though.”
The food that was actually served was simple but of good quality. Simple yet, hearty, you might say.
However, what was most surprising to Jin, was a dish that looked like rice porridge. Except that it was dark.
“…What is this?”
Jin asked, and the cook who was nearby explained it to him.
“It is a porridge made from nogi seeds. I was told that you have a great interest in them.”
Ahh, I knew it. Jin thought. He had talked about this with the butler the other day, so that’s where he must have heard it.
He decided to start with the porridge first. Jin tasted a bite and realized the difference in texture. It was not very thick.
It was clearly a type of rice. It wasn’t particularly long in shape. It was a kind of rice that Jin was very familiar with.
“How is it? I heard that you were interested, and so I tried my hand at cooking some…”
As Jin ate it, he thought of the ways to eat foreign rice. He recalled reading a certain cooking manga once, that was about a newspaper reporter who was rebelling against his father.
“Did you perhaps change the water once when boiling it?”
The manga had suggested this method for cooking foreign rice.
“Yes, that is right. It would become very sticky and drippy if you do not do it.”
Hearing this, Jin decided to ask about the history of eating nogi.
“When did people start eating nogi?”
“Let me see, it was discovered nearly 100 years ago. But I think it wasn’t until the past 20 years that people began to eat it. It was originally used as feed for livestock. Someone must have tried eating it, and so it became food…”
Apparently, horses who ate it would grow much faster, and so it was grown in the western region of the Shouro empire. Someone then tried to eat the grains, which lead to it being used as food for people as well.
And so people would eat the grains, and the horses would eat the rest. They were grown and separated like this starting from around 20 years ago. The cook explained.
In Japan, rice plants were harvested for rice, and so pesticides were used. So of course, they were hardly ever used as food for livestock. But Jin’s curiosity was really directed more to the nogi.
“Do you think it will be possible for me to see this nogi later on? Also, if you would allow me to cook some…”
Jin said this, and the cook then looked to the Empress with a slightly troubled face. But the Empress nodded with an expression of deep interest, and so the cook was forced to agree.
Reinhart was already aware that Jin had once made a delicious dish out of topopo(potatoes), which had not been widely eaten before, and so he had high expectations.
“This is nogi.”
“…I knew it.”
What he was shown was brown rice. Jin had been told by the director, that brown rice was difficult to cook. And so he knew that they would have to start with turning it into white rice.
And so he considered how the rice could be polished.
Usually, this would be done by grinding the grains of brown rice against each other so that the surface skin, or bran, can be removed. But if you did this too quickly, the friction would cause the heat to rise, which would affect the taste.
“I guess I’ll go with the orthodox method then…”
And so, even if the taste might suffer a little, he wanted to reach the quality of a retail rice mill. He took this job more seriously than usual, after all, the rice depended on it.
“Basically, we just need to grind the grains against each other…”
In other words, we just needed to mix them in a bowl together. It would be great if I could also keep the temperature from rising at the same time.
Jin had them prepare a medium-sized barrel and filled it up halfway with nogi before placing the lid back on.
“Reiko, please shake this barrel.
And here it was Reiko’s turn.
Everyone that was watching…the cook and his subordinates saw Reiko, who looked like any girl, pick up the 20 kilograms barrel as if it were not heavy at all. They were shocked.
“Okay, do it. … ‘Cooling.’”
As Reiko shook the barrel, Jin used craft magic to keep the temperature down.
They stopped after approximately five minutes and looked inside. The nogi inside had gone from brown rice to looking very close to white rice.
“Alright, just five more minutes.”
They shook and cooled like before. With this, they got something that was practically white rice.
“Oh? Jin, what is it?”
“We called it white rice back where I come from. It’s much easier to cook like this… ‘Separate(Kurasshi)’”
So saying, Jin separated the rice from the bran.
“This powder is rice bran. This can also be used for something, so do not throw it away.”
He would use it for pickling.
“Now, this here is white rice. Let’s try cooking it.”
Jin had the cook help him wash the rice.
Brown rice was easier to wash, because of the lack of bran, but it was necessary to wash it off with white rice.
Then they decided to try and make rice porridge. Jin was not confident in his ability to cook normal rice first.
“Put extra water in and put the lid over it…”
Making rice porridge was pretty easy. You just needed around 8 to 10 times as much water as there was rice, and boil it.
Unlike rice, you didn’t need to soak it first. You just put it over a strong heat and then make it weaker once it starts to boil. After that, you only needed to stir it a few times to prevent the bottom from burning.
Jin could make rice porridge because he had made it before for a sick child.
It was difficult adjusting the heat, as they were not using a gas stove, but he was somehow able to make the first batch in under an hour.
“Now, please taste this.”
Jin said, as he served some to the cook, Reinhart and himself with just a pinch of salt.
Jin had a sensitive tongue, so he blew on it to cool it off before eating. But the cook immediately tasted it. As for his reaction…
“Oh! This is delicious! Jin, thank you so much for teaching me this incredible thing!”
He said happily. Reinhart was no different.
“Jin, I had no idea that nogi could be so delicious!”
And finally, Jin tasted it himself.
“…Ahhh, what a nostalgic taste…”
He was so moved that he almost cried. Reiko hurriedly relayed this to Laojun.
(“Reiko, so it was nogi. So that is this rice that my lord was searching for”)
(“That seems to be the case. As for how to cook it, it is as I just told you. Apparently, there are other methods for cooking as well. I will let you know as soon as I find out. But more importantly, we should acquire some rice plants and grow them on Hourai island.”)
(“Of course. It will be our biggest priority. We will use all the Quinta that are free in order to procure it. South of the Shouro empire, was it?”)
(“Yes. I will leave that part to you. And I will find out the recipes.”)
“It is so delicious even when eating it with salt alone.”
“It is even better with pickles.”
It would even taste good with the pickles I ate on the way here. But.
“We call this stuff that has been fermented in rice bran Nukazuke. It is also very good.”
Jin said as he explained how to use the bran.
“Unfortunately, I do not know too many details about making it. But I do know that it will emit a sour smell if you mix it every day and that if you don’t mix it, it will go bad and start to stink.”
Jin said as he tried to explain how to make it. While Jin had eaten vegetables that were pickled in rice bran and miso, he had never made it before.
“Also, you should roast the bran once I think… And then squeeze the moisture out with salt water until it has a dough-like texture.”
He barely knew what he was talking about, but told them anyway. Maybe they could use it as a reference.
As long as I was mostly correct, then the cooking professionals will figure the rest out.
At the same time, Reiko sent the information to Laojun. It would be a little later when Peridot and the others would wait eagerly for the rice to arrive.
“Jin, we are very grateful that you have instructed us about your traditional cuisine!”
After talking about it thoroughly until the evening, the head cook said this as an expression of gratitude. And lastly:
“Please look forward to tonight’s menu.”
＊ ＊ ＊
“Jin, this is delicious.”
Dinner was also taken with her imperial majesty. And she was very satisfied with the porridge made from white rice. There were also pickles set out on the side.
Jin became quite happy by this. It must mean that she had similar tastes in food.
“This nogi, I mean, rice. It is a bit of a hassle to prepare, but they say that a lot can be harvested at once. We should promote it, along with wheat!”
Indeed, Jin had once heard that in terms of space, rice yielded much more than wheat.
And while he did not know the reason, he knew that rice paddies could be cultivated repeatedly. Which he also explained to them.
“Hmm. Rice paddies, huh. Very well. I will choose some people and have them do some research about it.”
This concerned the improvement of their food, and so the Empress was very enthusiastic about it. As there was still time left, Jin explained as much as he could about rice farming.