Chapter 81 – Speaking of Cold Days…
Before the evening, I finished cleaning the second floor and now we are ready to start preparing dinner.
Fufufu, in a cold day like today, the menu is a hot pot! I wanted to do a pot over the Kotatsu1 if possible, but let’s set that aside to until the moment a Kotatsu is made, I made ponzu2 for this day, didn’t I?
The ingredients of the pot are chicken meatballs, pork, cabbage, mushrooms, kiritanpo3 and chrysanthemum herb. I’m sad that there is no tofu, but it’s hard to make it, and I don’t have the necessary ingredients… I also wanted to put onions, but gave up on it because it can be poisonous for cats.
Well, what is impossible is impossible. I will move on to prepare the materials immediately, first, we cook the rice and then we make the chicken meatballs. I cut them over and over again until they were properly minced.
Once that’s done, I mix it with a moderate amount of salt, egg whites, ginger and sake. As it blends moderately, put the egg’s yolk, and mix it until it’s sticky. Afterwards knead it little by little to form dumplings, then arrange them on the dish.
Next is kiritanpo, it will work as substitute for rice, since the latter won’t work very well because lack udon4 to bring some consistency.
By the way, the rice which I bought from the company is big, and the sweetness is thin, unlike those in Japan. That Rice has a unique taste. Well, the rice of the Japan has its taste due to going through breed improvement many times though. It’s still pretty nice considering it’s the only one available. Usually, when I eat it, I put the same amount of wheat and rice, since rice is an expensive imported good… But today, I’ll use twice as much rice. It’s okay to be a little extravagant, right?
Now I will crush the cooked rice, but just enough to let only a bit of its shape left, round it properly, pierce it with a wooden skewer, then stretch it like a bar… Seems about right, it will be done as soon as it’s baked, so I put it on the fireplace immediately.
As the kiritanpo is being broiled, a fragrant smell filled the room. Bake it it’s surface has a brown tinge, and cut it in half so that it is easy to eat by unplugging it from the skewer.
The preparation of the laborious material is finished now. The rest of the ingredients should be washed with water and cut to a reasonable size. Ah, I need to cut the crosses of the shiitake…. This is important, isn’t it?
Now that I finished preparing the ingredients, the next step is to prepare the pot.
Fufufu, it seems that finally came the turn of this clay pot! I asked a craftsman who made pottery, through Mr. Graham5 and he made it! It is a pot. This opportunity can’t be missed!
First, I’ll make a soup with kelp. Once it starts boiling I’ll lower the firepower, and keep on putting the ingredients. I’d generally remove the konbu6 , but the process is limited to the tools I have, so things will be kept as it is.
I make grated radish by the time the pot is done. Grated radish with ponzu, it is a classic.
The pot is getting finished soon. Now put it on the table and go to the stove… A stove…? I’m so stupid, there is no portable stove in this world! I’ve prepared this far, but to make a mistake at the very end…! The charm of the pot will be sharply reduced this way!!
I have to do something… Even though it doesn’t lose temperature easily, it will get cold without a heat source. The firepower of the fire magic tool is too weak, and I can’t from the oven and put on the table.
Muu… Ah! Like this I’ll be able maintain a moderate amount of heat! It will be a bit messy, but in this case, I can have no room for worrying about this kind of thing!
First, lay a cloth on the table in the place the pot was in, then put a large frying pan on it, move some charcoal from the fireplace into the frying pan, and put the pot on top of it. It is a bit unsteady, but I can compensate by putting some wood around it.
With this I can adjust the firepower now, I just need to refill the charcoal in case the fire becomes weak. Fufufu, I will not be hindered by something like this!
Oh, it seems the prince has come with good timing. Coming all the way out here in this cold is quite the trouble. Maa, a pot that comes in this cold will surely be special. Getting the prince on the table, I prepare a bowl and ponzu.
“What is this…?” Looking at the pot in front of me, the prince asked a question confusedly.
“What is the pot? It is a dish from my country. I put various ingredients and boil them. It’s the best dish for a cold day, isn’t it?”
Seems like it is almost finished? When the lid was taken, steam rose, the simmering sounds were claiming the completion of the pot. “I put the ponzu in a bowl and take my favorite ingredients from the pot to eat with it. You can mix the soup of the pot with your favorite. It is delicious to mix the grated radish of this place with them.”
I put an appropriate amount of ponzu on the prince’s and on my bowl. Then, it put the grated radish in my own, followed by taking the Chinese cabbage from the pot, putting it on the ponzu and carrying it my mouth.
… I was too hasty though. It was too hot and burnt my mouth, I tried moving it through my mouth while chewing to see if it cooled.
“… And well, this is how you eat. Since the pot is boiling, please be careful not to burn your mouth.” I warned him to avoid having a repeat of the previous blunder, then took a tsukune7, cooled it a little and put it in my mouth.
A hot pot is truly the best in a cold day… However, the prince sitting in front of me is looking confusedly, without trying to reach out to the pot. “You’re not eating? Can you warm up like that?”
“… No, I don’t know what to say. This is the first time I’ve seen this kind of food, it’s like taking it from a pot and eating it.”
… Ah, while it’s normal for Japanese people, foreigners may feel uncomfortable doing it. In particular, when it comes to royalty, it may be that he has only eaten things separately. Maybe, the act of putting chopsticks by itself can be considered vulgar… I never thought that I would recognize myself as a Japanese in such a situation.
“Eating like this is the official way to eat a pot. It is said that those that eat together have their bonds strengthened.” I’m not saying a lie. In fact, I have heard that sumo wrestlers eat in the same pot to reinforce their camaraderie, and also eat from the same kettle of rice to show their friendship. “Maa, it’s a custom in my country, so if it’s difficult for a prince to put his hands on it, I won’t share it with you.”
I don’t want to impose it. The reason is that it won’t be delicious if it’s eaten forcibly. It is a hot pot, I want it to be delicious, and I want you to eat it.
The prince had a difficult and face opened the mouth when I extended my hand to take his bowl. “No, if that’s how you eat this dish, it would be good manners to follow it. Let’s get this dumpling… Hot!”
“Are you all right? I told you to be careful! Yes, it’s water.” Is he a clichéd man? He carried the tsukune to his mouth without even cooling it, and at that moment it entered his mouth he was so surprised by the heat that the tsukune fell into the bowl.
The prince gulped the water in one go, and then let out the breath he had held. “Fuu, I’m sorry… It’s okay. It’s tingling a bit, but I didn’t think it would burn like this. I’ll be careful.”
“If you pick some and put them together first, they’ll be cooler when you eat them.” After I gave him the advice, he said ‘yes’ and put some vegetables in his bowl.
“Muu, how to say it… It surely is delicious, is it a taste of the ingredients? The way it was prepared was superb for sure, and this ponzu is exquisite. It seems to warm your body as well… Well, I can understand that it’s food we should eat on a cold day.”
“I’m happy you liked it. How about grated radish? Do you want to try it?”
“Well, let’s get to it… Mu? It is quite crispy… But the spiciness has been accentuated as well. This is delicious.” The reaction of the prince seems to be good. After all, the pot is not the one to be eaten alone. I’d feel lonely if I had it by myself.
As the prince began to stretch his hand to the pot, I also put the ingredients I wanted to my bowl… Oh, don’t forget Eru’s rice.
Sure, cats don’t eat mushrooms, do they? I hear that it is better to avoid the one with a strong smell, as well as the chrysanthemum. I’ll pick out some things that Eru is going to eat and put them on the table so as to cool them down.
It is inconvenient that cats cannot eat if it’s this hot. I placed the plate in front of Eru once it got a little cold, he cried out greedily before starting to chew on the dish.
… Thinking on it, it’s been a few months since I picked Eru up, but his size doesn’t change at all. I thought that cats at this age grew up on a daily basis… I wonder what is it like to still be kitten sized? Or is it something of his race…?
“What is this round thing? It seems like meat… But… The juice is overflowing in the mouth and it is delicious.” While I was scratching Eru’s neck, I heard the prince’s voice, so I looked at him. The prince stabbed the tsukune with his fork and looked at it.
“It’s a small chicken’s dumpling… It is made round. It’s called tsukune. By the way, the white one here is the rice that was cooked and hardened. It’s good for the stomach… I mean, there are hardly any tsukune left!? Don’t eat that much, and more of the rest!” There is only one tsukune left in the pot! There should have been a good number of them… but I also like the meatballs!? “No more tsukune for prince! I’ll eat the rest of the meatballs!” When I said that, the prince hanged his face in a pitiful manner.
Making such a face is no good!? The grudge I hold over the food is too big! “I’ll eat other things, so can I eat a little? I couldn’t stop because it’s too delicious. It’s torture to not be able to eat something so delicious in front of you…”
I’m happy to hear that it’s delicious… Also, I’m happy that you enjoy my favorite meatballs. But this and that are different! I’ll protect my tsukune! “No. The prince ate a lot, so please bear with it.” As I said that, the prince hanged down with an even more miserable face.
It seems like I’m doing something bad… “If it’s only a little, you can eat it. Just a little!? You can’t eat more if you don’t the other things properly!?” Sigh… Even if I said that, I’m too weak to this kind of face… When I was in Japan, and got angry at the mischief of my elder brother, I always forgave him when he made this kind of face…
When I gave the permission, the prince raised his face and reached out to the Chinese cabbage saying, ‘I understand.’ with a very serious face.
I sighed and put the remaining tsukune on the pot.
- Kotatsu is a heated table that is pretty common in Japan.
- Ponzu is a Japanese sauce made primarily of soy sauce and citrus juice.
- Kiritanpo is a mashed rice pressed on a cryptomeria skewer and toasted (used as dumplings in soups).
- Udon are thick Japanese wheat noodles.
- ガラム or Garamu, I’m keeping it consistent with how the previous translator did it.
- Konbu is any edible kelp from the Laminariaceae family.
- Tsukune is a chicken meatball.