Part 5: Osaka’s Auntie Battle a Giant
Chapter 23: Cold Soba Noodles
The negotiations within Moutry Town went more smoothly than any of them had dared to expect. For the people of the town, getting home and resuming normal life as soon as possible was the most important thing.
Haruna was hailed as a hero for expelling the giants from the Town, to which Haruna mysteriously said, “It’s the power of the Tiger, ya.”
From that day onwards, the people of Moutry Town called this event the ‘Tiger’s Miracle’.
While Haruna was in the middle of being welcomed by the people, she was struck by a sudden idea.
“Since it’s like this, why don’t we try making chilled soba, na.”
Moutry Town was located in a mountainous region, they should be able to produce quite a good amount of soba.
From what she heard, in order to avoid starvation during famine, the people would force their way into the mountains in search of soba seeds. However, it looked like soba was only something they would eat when they have no other choice.
There were actually several different types of plants in Japan that were eaten to stave off starvation when foods were scarce. The argument was that, unless the plants are exceptionally poisonous, most leaves could be eaten after a thorough soaking in warm water. Moreover, other parts of plants such as the fruits or root part could also be eaten after it is soaked, dried and milled into powder form.
Depending on the situation, they might even gather poisonous mushrooms in their haste to collect as many edible forest products. In fact, there were people who actually enjoyed eating slightly poisonous mushrooms, properly prepared of course.
As for the champion survivor buckwheat, there was really no problem in gathering those since they’re hardy plants that grew well even on poor mountainous soil.
When she asked for buckwheat grains to be delivered to Old Saxon, the village head of Moutry Town was more than happy to comply with this modest request.
“Since Miss Haruna got rid of the giants so quickly for us, our town suffered very minimal economic loss. Whatever Miss Haruna might wish for, we are more than happy to provide it. We shall arrange for the transportation of soba seeds immediately, just for you!”
“Many thanks, na. Ah, right, it looks like the giants aren’t as bad as you might think, they are a quiet lot up there. If they really are as murderous and evil as everyone says, this town would definitely have suffered greater damage.”
“I understand. In honour of Miss Haruna’s great rescue, we wish to build a great bronze statue of Miss Haruna.”
“Eh~~, no, that’s kind of embarrassing… I have to say no, wa…”
Since the suggestion of a statue had been rejected, Miss Haruna’s actions today were written down in great detail for posterity, with perhaps just a teensy bit of exaggeration…
… do read this at kitchennovel.com …
When Haruna got back to Old Saxon, she made a bee line for her office.
“Natalia, how is everything here?”
“We managed somehow. There’s no problem getting enough flour and fresh cabbages, but we do have a bit of a problem hiring people to transport goods to some of our branch stores.”
With so many branch stores to manage, the volume of ingredients they dealt with were naturally quite high. At the very least, they exceeded the amount of ingredients an individual shop could buy.
As a mage, Natalia was blessed with great intellect, and was able to deal with paperwork fairly well.
“Yes, that’s Natalia, ya. Alright, I’m going to feed Natalia some soba today, wa.”
“Eh, soba is a type of plant, right? That doesn’t sound tasty at all…”
“Maa, just wait. Soba is the good of the working man, something that we can’t do without, wa.”
First, the soba seeds were grinded into flour. With Haruna’s cheat-like status, this step was quite easy.
From here on, she could easily mix sugar syrup into the buckwheat flour and make it into a dessert, but –
“At long last, I can have noodles, wa.”
First, she added a little bit of water into some buckwheat flour and kneaded it. In honour of Natalia’s first experience with soba, Haruna had used up 10% of her precious buckwheat flour.
Before long the soba mixture was rolled into a ball of dough. For this part, Haruna’s incredible status also came in handy.
Next, the dough was flattened with a rolling pin.
There were plenty of rolling pins in the office, leftover from their udon making project.
The flattened dough was then cut and scalded in boiling water. The next step from here on was no different from making udon.
“The problem is actually the soup base, ya na~”
Unlike regular wheat, buckwheat has a rather strong taste, and therefore not really suitable to be eaten like pasta.
While it’s impossible to get anything close to the real thing with this world’s ingredients, she could at least get an approximation of it.
First, the katsuobushi .
One of Haruna’s special magical skills was [Simple Dimension Control Magic (Candy etc will be issued. Some types of Osaka produce will be issued)], which was where she had gotten this rare item from.
The katsuobushi was not actually something that was made in Osaka; it was most probably made in Yaizu of Shizuoka Prefecture. However, it was probably because the fluttery katsuobushi, or bonito flakes, on sauce covered takoyaki balls, it was also available in the Simple Dimension Control Magic.
The bonito flakes that she pulled out were the cheap pencil shave type in a transparent plastic bag, nothing like the high quality katsuobushi that looked more like a piece of wood hard enough to double up as a weapon than dried fish.
The second item was konbu seaweed.
The source of her konbu came from her salty konbu candy. While it was not the best thing to make dashi from, it’s still better than nothing.
Osaka’s consumption of salty konbu was the highest in Japan. During the Edo period, it is said that the majority of the kelp collected in the sea were sent to Osaka. In fact, there is an old store dealing with kelp tsukudani  in Osaka that is still in business a hundred years later.
Sake was next, which was not a problem since she had plenty of different liquors to choose from in this world.
Finally, the most difficult to obtain ingredient.
Soy sauce can’t be made outside a large establishment like a soy sauce factory. It could be said that the making of soy sauce has reached the industrial level a long time ago.
However, it’s not like soy sauce could not be made in small quantities.
Haruna’s top half disappeared into the cupboard as she rummaged about in the back. She eventually resurfaced with a large jar.
“What’s that thing? And… what’s that weird smell…?”
Natalia’s nose wrinkled and her cat ears flattened against her head.
“Aah, this na. You’ve seen it before, but not this much, perhaps…”
Haruna removed the lid of the jar.
“This is miso, ya.”
“Oh, so it is that thing. I remember tasting it before, down in the dungeons. The smell really is strong…”
Fermented foodstuff usually gives off a rather unique smell and children are particularly resistant to it, especially those that haven’t grown up with it.
“I made it a long time ago, thinking I might use it for something. We’re not selling it as a product yet, I just made it because I wanted to.”
“So, are you going to make soup or…”
“Miso soups are really good, but we’re not going to use the actual miso today.”
She tilted the jar, and black liquid could be seen floating on the miso.
“That’s tamari sauce , na. You get it when miso is made in large batches.”
It is said that soy sauce was an accidental discovery made in the process of making miso.
Compared to miso, however, the use of soy sauce was not as widespread. Miso had been around since the Warring States Period (1467-1568), and on the other hand, the earliest record for soy sauce was found in the Edo Period (1603-1868) and was sold as a luxury item.
“There isn’t a lot of it, but it should be enough for us to make some soba noodles.”
Now, it’s time to mix the tamari sauce with all the other ingredients to make the sauce base.
The cooked soba noodles were plunged into an ice water bath conjured by Natalia to maintain a good firm texture.
“There’s no wasabi, but I’d be really surprised if I can find any here. Well, there’s nothing we can do about that. For condiments, let’s go with this green onion-ish vegetable. Mix that up with the sauce and…”
Excess water was vigorously shaken off from the noodles and placed onto a plate.
“Ta da! Old Saxon Style Cold Soba is done, ya!”
– old style soy sauce, said to be more richer and less salty