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I couldn’t decide whether to do anko or mochi first. w
Once I finished checking the storage room, I headed to the refrigerated pantry.
What goodies would I find there? They were supposedly perishable goods, so I should probably transfer them to my Bear Box as quickly as I can.
Entering the refrigerated storage, I was met by Anzu and Eris-san already waiting inside, shaking from the cold.
I was completely fine, of course, thanks to the cold-resistance properties of the Bear Suit. The Bear Suit really was simply amazing if I didn’t mind its appearance.
All the vegetables and drinks Anzu’s shop used were kept inside this refrigerated pantry, while the meat and the fish were stored in the even colder one next door, since they had to be kept frozen and not just cold.
As for how this pantry came to be, I had had plenty of ice magic stones to spare. It was a simple thing, turning a normal magic stone into an ice one. That was why, extravagant pantries like these were not a problem at all. Tirumina-san, on the other hand, was completely shocked by this, as ice magic stones were normally very expensive.
「Yuna-san, your things are on that shelf over there.」
Anzu pointed to a shelf lined with all sorts of ceramic pots.
What surprises would I find inside of them? I took one of the tightly-sealed pots and opened it, revealing its brown and very slimy-looking contents. Could this be…
「That’s miso. We finally got some.」
Anzu answered my unasked question as she looked over my shoulder.
Yes, this was miso indeed, which meant I could finally make miso soup.
I could drink miso soup now!!! I was so happy that I almost wanted to cry tears of joy.
Rice and miso soup, together with a sunny-side-up egg and nori. I could finally have my traditional Japanese breakfast.
Ah, I wanted to drink some miso soup right now. This was even higher on the priority list than eating mochi.
I opened another pot and it revealed a different colored miso.
Oh, there were even different types here. I looked forward to all the miso soups I could make.
This should have completed my breakfast set, but for some reason, I felt like something was still missing. What could it be…? I could feel it on the tip of my tongue.
Oh, this also reminded me that I had never seen miso in Anzu’s shop before. Had I just never noticed, like how I had overlooked the udon before?
I decided to just ask Anzu.
「We did use it here, but we ran out, so we stopped serving it for a while. We had ordered more from Mireera’s Commerce Guild, of course, but it only arrived now. We should be able to serve it as seasoning on all sorts of dishes again.」
Using it as seasoning was okay and all, but personally, I preferred to have white rice with miso soup. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.
Looking at all these miso filled pots made me giddy. Would it be okay if I took them all? Anzu told me they were all for me, so it should be fine.
This was quite a lot of miso, but thankfully, it wouldn’t spoil in the Bear Box. I quickly stashed all the miso pots inside and turned my focus to the next pot on the shelf.
When I opened the lid, a strong sour smell immediately hit me. Saliva accumulated in my mouth just from the smell alone, accompanied by a sense of nostalgia. This was undoubtfully umeboshi.
(TL note: Umeboshi is dried pickled plum)
「I don’t like sour dishes.」
Seeing that the jar contained umeboshi, Eris-san backed away slightly while Anzu actually inched closer. So, Anzu liked umeboshi as well, huh. I was Japanese, so it was in my nature to like it. I could use it in rice balls or tea and could even make umeboshi ochazuke.
I suddenly got an urge to just go home right away to make some rice, put umeboshi on top, and serve some miso soup and tea with it.
(TL note: Ochazuke is a Japanese dish consisting of tea poured over a bowl of rice)
「If you don’t like these, please let me know. Don’t throw them out.」
I would never do that. Umeboshi was precious; throwing it away would be a waste.
I closed the lid and moved on. The next pot contained soy sauce set aside for me. The shop used quite a lot of it, so I had asked some for myself. There were two pots filled with soy sauce, so maybe I should give one to Zelef-san.
With this, I reached the end of the shelf. I must say, there sure were plenty of items similar to those commonly found in Japan. I really wanted to visit the Country of Wa someday. There were most likely even more things I would be interested in there. Still, with all the rice, soy beans, red beans, miso and umeboshi, I should have enough Japanese things to eat for a while. With this, all the hard work I had put into defeating the Kraken was finally paying of.
After making sure I really got all the pots, I turned to Anzu and Eris-san.
「Anzu, Eris-san, thank you for helping me on your day off.」
「Don’t worry about it, we had nothing else to do anyway.」
Anzu said, and Eris-san nodded.
I then told them I was heading home to eat lunch, but Anzu offered to whip something up for me, so I gratefully accepted her offer. I asked for the udon, of course, as I had just recently learned that she could make it for me.
「I don’t have any udon, so I can’t.」
She answered flatly. She didn’t have it…
Since she couldn’t prepare udon for me, I decided to just have my usual rice with meat on top dish.
It was delicious, just like all the food Anzu made.
After enjoying my free lunch, I parted ways with Anzu and Eris-san and went straight home where I collected the now dried laundry and finished cleaning the house. Once I was done, I started with the dinner preparations a little earlier than usual. I would be making the miso soup I had been waiting for so long. As I began preparing all the ingredients necessary for the stock I realized that I only had seaweed and no tofu. I did have soybeans but I didn’t know how to make tofu out of them. Could I get some if I visited the Country of Wa?
For now, I just added some white radish and carrots to the stock and gave it a taste. It was good. Oh, it had been months since I last tasted this flavor.
I then cooked the rice and placed a single umeboshi on top before starting to grill a fish. I prepared the grilled fish. Once the fish was done, I made sure to pour plenty of soy sauce over it, and topped the meal by brewing some hot tea.
It was simple, but after all this time, I was finally able to make a traditional Japanese meal.
(TL note: She finally got her Japanese meal, so I think she also deserves the real Japanese phrase. For those who don’t know, it literally means: “I received the food; thanks to everything that brought it to me.”, and is said before eating a meal.)
Finally getting to taste umeboshi and miso soup again really satisfied my Japanese cravings. It just had to be white rice with umeboshi on top, some miso soup on the side, and green tea to wash it off all together. The combo was so delicious that I couldn’t help it but to get a second serving. It should be fine as long as I didn’t get fat, right?
Even though that had been the thought that had crossed my mind while eating, as the next day came around, I just couldn’t help but worry about getting fat from all the food I ate, so I ended up distracting myself by thinking of some mochi and red bean paste recipes.
Which one should I make? With both mochi and red bean paste, I could have oshiruko. Sadly, I couldn’t make them both at once as I had never made mochi nor red bean paste before. I would have to start off by learning to make one, and only then the other.
Mochi should be easier to make, but red bean paste was also tempting since, if I was successful, I could make anpan, meaning I could teach Morin-san a new recipe. Still, without mochi, I couldn’t have oshiruko. What a dilemma…
Personally, I just wanted to eat mochi: wrap it in nori and pour some soy sauce on top… Delicious. To make mochi, I would need a large mortar, or more like, I would actually need to prepare a whole ton of things.
Only after pondering for a long while longer, I finally decided to try making the red bean paste first. Fortunately for me, a recipe was actually included in the box. I knew nothing about making red bean paste other than what I had learned from watching a few cooking programs on TV, so the recipe would be extremely helpful. I was sure I could do it now that I had an actual recipe to work off, and not just my vague memory.
I wasn’t too sure if Jeremo-san had been the one to prepare the recipe for me, or if it had actually been someone from the Country of Wa, generously putting it in, but I had to thank that person someday.
(TL Note: Oshiruko is red bean soup. It has crushed boiled red beans and dango balls in it. Anpan is a bread filled with red bean)
Still, it seemed like making red bean paste required a lot of attention. I almost felt discouraged just looking at the recipe but decided to try my best for the sake of tasting it. Making it all by myself would surely be tedious, though, so I took out my Bear Phone and called for some support.
「Fina, are you free today? If you are, can you come over to my house?」
「Yeah, I got some ingredients from the Country of Wa, so I’m going to try to make a dish from there.」
『Food from the Country of Wa?』
「Yeah, and it would be great if you could help me out. You have time?」
『Sure, I guess…』
Fina’s voice trailed off.
『Shuri, hold on. I’m talking to Yuna-oneechan.』
I could hear Fina talking to Shuri in the background; although it was quite muffled, I could still hear Shuri on the other end saying she wanted to go, too. Just hearing them talk like this put a smile on my face.
『I-is it ok if Shuri comes along as well, Yuna-oneechan?』
「Of course she can. But, if Shuri comes, she has to help out too, okay? Make sure to tell her that.」
I then heard Shuri’s cheerful response over the Bear Phone.
『Okay, we’ll head over straight away.』
Our call ended with me managing to get some excellent helpers. Just as I was about finished setting up everything for making the red bean paste, Fina and Shuri arrived at my house.
「Yuna-oneechan, what are we making?」
「We’re making something called red bean paste. If you put it on bread, it makes it taste much better.」
Even though I had said I was planning on making anpan, we were just going to make the filling. I would have liked to make some oshiruko, but just making red bean paste should be plenty for today.
Shuri asked excitedly. Unlike Fina, Shuri was quite childlike. Well, it wasn’t like Fina never acted like a child, but she was still very mature for her age.
「Yeah… Okay, can you two thoroughly wash the red beans for me?」
I gave detailed instructions to Fina based on the recipe while Shuri tried her best to help. Once they were done, we put the beans into boiling water.
Again, I tasked them both to keep an eye on the beans and make sure to skim any scum that formed. While I had seen how to make the red bean paste on TV, having a recipe meant that I didn’t have to waste any ingredients through trial and error. Without it, I would surely mess up many details or even bigger steps of the making process.
I then added sugar into the boiling water and cooked the beans till the water evaporated; with this, it should be just about be ready.
「Yuna-oneechan, is it ready yet?」
「Is it ready?」
I scooped some of it up with a spoon and tasted it, trying not to burn my tongue in the process. It was very hot, but also sweet; maybe I had added too much sugar. I would have to remember to add less sugar when I made it next time. As I tasted it, Shuri and Fina clearly looked like they wanted to try it, too.
「It’s really hot, so be careful.」
I scooped some more onto the spoon and fed it to the two of them.
「It tastes weird, but in a good way.」
That was because this was sweeter than normal red bean paste.
「Okay, it’s a bit late already, but shall we have it for lunch?」
I took out some bread and spread some red bean paste over it. It would do as a makeshift anpan. It was delicious, especially since I hadn’t tasted it for a long time. But I shouldn’t eat too much, of course. Fina and Shuri both ate two slices each, but still looked hungry, so I gave them a third piece with a different kind of bread. Next time I made this, I would have mochi, and we could finally have oshiruko.
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