Magi Craft Meister 619
18 King Klein’s Treatment Arc
19-06 Ingredient Discovery
Laozi smiled as he replied to the voice’s warning.
“Please forgive me. I should’ve known better than to play with food.”
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Then, the expression on the voice’s owner’s face changed into surprise.
“Oh, I wasn’t expecting this. You’re the first person to guess that it’s food!”
The owner of the voice that came from the back of the shop was a man about 30 years old with light brown hair and gray eyes. Laozi guessed that this was Oliver, the owner of this shop.
“Are you the owner?”
“Ah, yes, my name is Oliver, and I’m the owner of the shop. Dear customer, are you… coming from afar?”
Looking at Laozi’s clothes, which consisted of the standard outfit for a butler in the Small League of Countries, Oliver seems to have guessed that at least he wasn’t from any town neighboring Ismal.
“Yes, I am here under my master’s orders.”
This wasn’t a lie. He was, after all, also looking for the ingredient that Jin so desperately wanted to procure.
“So you do know that what you’re holding in your hands is actually food, don’t you?”
“Yeah. Katsuobushi, right? You slice this thinly, put the slice in hot water to extract its flavor and make a broth, and then use it to make soups and such.”
Oliver’s eyes opened up wide as soon as he heard Laozi’s words.
“Really!? Is that how you’re supposed to prepare it!?”
“Huh? You didn’t know…?”
“Ah, yeah. Though I’m ashamed to admit it…”
Oliver said he tried crushing it up and sucking it, but that it didn’t taste very good.
“Your master seems to know about this all too well! Even though I stocked up on it, I only knew its name and that it was food, but I had yet to learn about how to actually prepare it, so I was starting to get a little concerned about it.”
“Right, I don’t know too much about it myself, but the way to prepare this food seems to be something that has been passed down from generation to generation in my master’s house.”
There was no need to lie, but there was also no need to tell the whole truth, so Laozi decided to deceive him with an explanation that wouldn’t be challenged by Oliver.
“To put it simply, the idea behind this ingredient is to extract its concentrated flavor to use in soups and so on. Since it is originally made from fish, it seems to be a good idea to use it for simmered vegetables as well.”
“I see, I see! …If you don’t mind, could you teach me how to make a dish with it? Of course, I’ll give you a piece free of charge.”
Oliver seemed to think that if he knew how to prepare the katsuobushi himself, it would help him sell it more and make it more popular.
And Laozi knew that Jin was open to spreading Japanese cuisine and culture, so he accepted Oliver’s offer.
“Oh, thank you! Would you like to use the kitchen?”
And so Laozi went to the kitchen with Oliver.
“First of all, I will prepare some ‘flaked bonito’.”
Since he didn’t have a tool for shaving bonito on him, Laozi took out the knife he had brought with him for self-defense and began shaving the pieces of katsuobushi that Oliver gave him. These pieces seemed to be missing a few bits here and there, probably due to Oliver having attempted to crush them before.
“Oh, you shaved them so thinly!”
Laozi put the bonito shavings in a pot filled with water and put it on the fire.
“Depending on how you want to use it, you can turn off the heat just before it boils, or let it boil and let it sit for a while. It will have a very fish-like smell when boiled.”
He also shared with Oliver the information gathered by the leader of the Peridots.
“Once this is done, we scoop the solid remains out with a net. These can be used to feed domestic animals.”
Back in the Edo Period in Japan, people also used the leftover bonito shavins to feed their cats.
“I’ll be making ‘bonito soup’.”
“Hmm… So you’re going to use these to make soup…”
“Yes… What kind of vegetables do you have?”
“Fresh vegetables are very valuable around here, so I can only offer you some dried vegetables.”
However, Laozi noticed that there were several eggs on the kitchen’s shelf.
“Can I use these eggs?”
“Oh, those are Sandbird eggs. Please, go ahead.”
Sandbirds were medium-sized birds that lived in the Hari-Hari Desert and preyed on Scorpias. Oliver explained that while their meat is unpalatable and inedible, their eggs were good to eat.
Laozi then decided that he would be preparing egg soup.
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He dropped the eggs into the pot where he had prepared the broth and scrambled them and sprinkled them with salt.
“Here you go.”
Laozi tasted the soup himself, and after making sure that its saltiness was just right, he presented it to Oliver.
Then, Oliver took a sip, and…
“This is delicious!”,
He said, completely surprised.
“I can’t believe you can make it so tasty with something so simple!”
However, Laozi corrected him.
“No, katsuobushi may be very easy to use, but I’m sure it must be a lot of work to produce it.”
This is something he had learned from Jin’s knowledge. This knowledge was something that Jin himself probably got from a manga, but Oliver was impressed by Laozi’s words.
“Surely you can say that. But thank you. I now understand how to use it, and as promised, you can take a piece of katsuobushi for free.”
The price for one pìece of katsuobushi was 400 torr, which was around 4,000 yen.
Laozi thought that a single piece of katsuobushi wasn’t worth nearly as much as the knowledge he had just shared with Oliver, since Oliver now knew how to prepare katsuobushi. This wasn’t the kind of information that could be exchanged for a mere 400 torr.
However, in terms of gaining a connection with Oliver, Laozi considered he had come out winning from that deal.
“I’ll keep restocking on katsuobushi, so I hope to see you here again sometime.”
Laozi casually replied to Oliver’s words, which he said as Laozi was about to leave after purchasing a second piece of katsuobushi, with a question.
“When do you think you’ll be restocking?”
Upon hearing this question, Oliver hesitated for a moment, but quickly put on a smile on his face as he replied.
“I believe it will be in about five days.”
“Oh, then I shall stay in this town for a bit longer. I’ll be seeing you then.”
“Thank you for your patronage.”
In an unexpected way, Laozi had managed to establish a connection with Oliver.
“Now then, all that remains is the deal with the foreigners.”
Laozi guessed that within five days, Oliver would be meeting with someone who could supply him with katsuobushi. There was a high possibility that this “someone” could be one of those foreigners.
However, this would be a transaction bordering on illegal. There was a chance that they would act with such prudence that even the spies of the Shouro Empire would not be able to detect their movements. Laozi warned himself against being too impatient about it as well.
“So, how are we going to make the most of this opportunity?”
The magic brain of Hourai Island, Laojun, who was currently operating Laozi, concluded that it was time to report their findings to Jin.
As such, he requested Laozi to send him the two pieces of katsuobushi he had obtained via the Warp Gate that was hidden in the desert cave.
He believed that the news of them finally coming across some katsuobushi would be enough reason to call Jin.
＊ ＊ ＊
“My Lord, we’ve found ’katsuobushi’.”
After hearing this news, Jin was so delighted that he could almost jump for joy, just as Laojun expected.
“You got katsuobushi!?”
Jin’s drowsiness seemed to have vanished completely.
“Yes, it was sent by Laozi earlier.”
Jin rushed out of the workshop and made a beeline to the Control Room. Reiko followed him silently.
On the table of the Control Room, there were two pieces of the katsuobushi that Jin had been yearning for for so long.
“I want to make miso soup with this…”
In response to Jin’s mutter, the leader of the Peridots, who had been standing by, quickly replied.
“Understood. I’ll get right on it. Master, may I use one for cooking and the other for research?”
This katsuobushi was covered with mold. This mold converts protein into amino acids, drawing out the most of its flavor. The leader of the Peridots wanted a sample that could be used to identify the type of mold and study its power and properties.
“Oh, that’s fine. According to the Laojun, we may be getting a new batch in a few days.”
“Thank you. What time shall we prepare the meal?”𝑓𝘳ℯ𝒆w𝘦𝘣𝙣𝘰ѵ𝘦𝚕.c𝗼𝓶
“I see, let’s have it ready in an hour.”
Reiko knew Jin hadn’t gotten enough sleep, so she insisted that he took a nap for about an hour.
“Ah, that’s right. Elsa and Hanna will be back by then, so let’s make enough for three.”
The leader of the Peridots then took the two pieces of katsuobushi and left the Control Room.
Shortly after that, Jin laid out his futon in the mansion and took a nap.
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