I go to the storehouse behind the house to take the ingredients for dinner. It’s for the sake of making a treat using walnuts as per Tina’s request.
I enter the storehouse. Inside, there’s a whole venison hanging, pre-treated by taking out the intestines. This is cured since two weeks ago, an offering item to supply the main village on the selection ceremony occasion tomorrow.
The main village actually has near 200 people attending the festival, so it cannot provide all the food. For that, each village has been demanded to bring over a food supply.
For the sake of the offering item, I can’t give that burden to the villagers. Therefore, I alone entered the forest and hunted a deer with my mana-strengthened physique. Even Father should accept one whole deer like this.
“Smells good. It’s curing well.”
If the meat is prepared this way, it will become more tasty. It should be eaten around this time. The prepared venison is cut for Tina’s and my portion. It’s not as if we’re sneaking a bite. This is done to confirm whether it’s cured well or not, so to say, a sampling.
......It’s just a coincidence that I take the highest quality of the tastiest sirloin part.
I return to the kitchen with the meat, where Tina rushes up to me.
“Tina, I’m going to start cooking, do you want to help?”
Tina, who eats dried meat and rarely sees them raw, looks at the venison with sparkling eyes. It’s a luxurious gem. We must enjoy this as much as we can.
“Can I ask for a strong fire from you?”
“I’ll do it!”
Without even inserting fire woods, a flame is blowing up in the hearth. Lately, I’ve been cooking by utilizing Tina’s flame magic. The reasons are that we don’t need fire woods, it doesn’t stain the hearth, it’s easy to adjust the heat level. It’s such a highly convenient magic. Now, I can’t imagine cooking without Tina.
Strong fire, medium fire, low fire. Since Tina has properly memorized those levels, she can make perfect adjustment of the heat level even with broad requests.
I put a frying pun on top of the heart. This frying pan is something that we made together, using the iron sand collected by earth magic. As I thought, it feels good to have iron utensils. I’m seething in excitement.
Heating up the frying pan is the pre-cooking stage. I cut the tendons of the deer’s sirloin meat, making it tender. Then, I mix water and a small amount of wheat flour, and turn a previously baked bread into bread crumbs. I rub some salt over the venison, dip it in the water and flour mixture, then coat it with the bread crumbs. Like this, the pre-cooking is completed.
“Kurt-sama, the frying pan is properly heated now.”
I return to the spot before the frying pan, then coat it with the walnut oil. As I do so, the fragrance of the oil spreads at once around me. When the walnut oil gets heated, an alluring scent will spread.
“Woooow, it smells so good.”
“Not yet, it’s only the beginning. Tina, medium fire, please.”
I put the two pieces of venison that has gone through the pre-cooking stage into the walnut oil-coated frying pan. There’s a juicy sizzling sound resounding here.
“Hey, you should understand why I said it was only the beginning, right?”
“Yes, I already feel satisfied from this smell.”
The smell of venison’s juice blends with the smell from walnut oil, creating a luscious smell around us. What I’m cooking is walnut-flavored deer meat cutlet.
The venison is light and delicate. If I use animal-based oil, it will kill the flavor. However, the walnut oil’s gentle flavor won’t destroy deer flavor, but enhance the savoriness. Since I’m deep frying both sides, I flip over the meat.
“Wow, such a pretty color.” With an admiring voice, Tina looks at the venison cutlet that has turned into a beautiful kitsune color.
In the blink of an eyes, the heating is completed. The venison is purposefully made into 1 cm thick. It’s the thickness that will showcase the harmony between the coating’s crispiness and the meat’s juiciness the best.
“Yosh, it turns out good. It just needs the finishing touches.”
I put both venison cutlets on the plates.
Then I make the finishing sauce. The crushed walnuts that’s left from the oil extraction, is blended with the sarunashi I picked today... the local variety of kiwi fruit, then I add some honey. It becomes a great looking pure white sauce.
I quickly pour that sauce. The white sauce on top of a kitsune-colored cutlet is such a sight.
“It’s finished. Deer cutlet with walnut sauce.”
It’s a special cuisine of savoriness of venison with walnut oil and walnut paste in the side, poured with a special rich-flavored sweet and sour sauce.
“Whoa... It looks delicious. Let’s eat it soon!”
“I know, right? And is my request of boiling the mukago fruit done?”
“It’s done when Kurt-sama went and took the venison!”
“Great job! Now, let’s eat.”
Like that, we go to the dining table.
“For the food we obtain today, we thank the forest and the God.”
After we pray as usual, we start digging in. In the dining table, there are my handmade cutlet and mukago boiled with salt. Other than that, there’s beef jerky soup. The meal right now is more extravagant than usual.
“Then, let’s start eating.”
“Yes, eat them.”
The cutlet is already cut. Tina puts one cut into her mouth. A crunching sound comes from her. Tina’s eyes widened as she chews. Gulping down, there’s a loud sound coming from her throat.
“Whoa, this is the first time. I always thought that we never had enough oil for venison, but to produce the rich flavor to this extent is just...”
Tina is engrossed with the cutlet.
“That’s because venison and walnut match well.”
Lightly flavored meat really goes well with walnut. For example, if the walnut sauce is poured onto pork instead, the pork and walnut’s flavor will fight each other to a disastrous result.
The lightness of the deer is the exact reason why it can accept the astringency and richness from the walnut.
“Moreover, the sauce’s sourness keeps increasing later on.”
Sarunashi, the local variety of kiwi fruits, produce a slight sweetness, but an extraordinarily strong acidity. It’s not suitable to be eaten raw, but it is most suitable to add acidity. No matter how light the venison is, it’s still heavy when fried. That is refined by adding the acidity from sarunashi. It should also play an active role in tomorrow’s pastry as well.
“It’s wonderful how I can taste walnut’s flavor more than anything I’ve ever tasted before! It’s the first time I eat walnut this tasty. ”
“That’s because it’s the cooking that is most suitable to showcase the walnut’s tastiness. The coating and the sauce, I made both to highlight the impressive quality of the walnut. So, I can take that you’re satisfied with this, right?”
“Yes, if I can eat walnut cooking to this wonderful extent, I can endure not eating the treat by the end of spring!”
I’m glad that Tina seems happy. I’m joining and eat a piece of the cutlet. It’s really good, if I can say so myself. On top of that, I take some boiled mukago fruit to my hand. It has the gentle flavor, exactly between of potato and chestnut that goes really well with the deer cutlet. I naturally can’t stop my chopsticks to keep going for them.
“Huft, thanks for the meal.”
Tina has finished eating her portion in an instant. Her face looks really unguarded.
“I humbly thank you for the meal.”
As I see Tina’s happy face, I feel happy too. All of my heart’s fatigue regarding tomorrow’s match seem to disappear.
Following Tina, I also finish my part. It was a really great meal, if I could say so myself. Also, this cutlet (katsuretsu) isn’t made just for today’s treat that put out walnut flavor in maximum. It’s a lucky charm.
To win (katsu) against the enemy. Well, this is probably just a wishful thinking, but it doesn’t feel bad.
Afterwards, Tina and I slowly talk to each other, then I sleep while embracing her. This is the night before the decisive battle. It’s not strange to feel anxious in this kind of situation. Even so, thanks to Tina, I’m able to sleep soundly. There’s a warmth in my chest; it becomes my strength.
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