“Now, let’s start cooking.”
Since then, we have managed to catch a total of three bigfin squid.
Thanks to Sawaguchi san’s efforts, we have also caught a good number of horse mackerels and mackerels.
The person who fished so hard should be taking a bath now.
Sawaguchi san offered to help me, but I declined because I felt sorry to keep her company since she was so dirty from swimming and fishing.
So I’m standing in the kitchen trying to cook alone……
Watanabe san showed her face in the kitchen. She looked like she just finished taking a bath and was wearing a casual shirt and skirt.
This is such an ordinary combination of clothes but it looks radiant, so I wondered if fashion is not about fabric or design but about the person who decides what looks good on him or her. I thought to myself.
They must have finished swimming, and now they are free until dinner is ready. I wondered if she had come to get a drink or something.
“Um……I was wondering if I could help you with something.”
Watanabe san glanced at me, looking somewhat unsure. I think for a moment and……
“I’m glad you’re concerned about me. But I’ll probably be fine.”
It would be impossible for me to ask her to skin the fish, and I’ve asked Sawaguchi san to take a rest for that reason. I was not comfortable asking Watanabe san to do it.
“Watanabe san, you must be tired from working part-time, right? You can rest with everyone else.”
Probably because she suggested it, she was uncomfortable with the fact that I was fishing and cooking all by myself. It could be said that she is a serious person.
I smile and tell her it’s okay,
“I want to help Aikawa kun ! ……And besides, I haven’t been able to talk to Aikawa kun much since I came over here.”
Her voice became so low in the middle of the sentence that I could not catch the latter half of it.
If she’s that concerned about me, it’s probably not a good idea to refuse her any more.
“Then, could I ask you to make the seasoning? Also, I would appreciate it if you could cook rice for me.”
I think of the cooking procedure in my mind and then pull out the tasks that I want Watanabe san to do.
“Yes ! I’ll take care of it !”
Watanabe san replied with a smile as she showed her enthusiasm.
I read out the quantities of seasonings and made a note on the whiteboard attached to the refrigerator.
I felt a little better knowing that I could leave the preparation to Watanabe san.
“Now, let’s get to processing…….”
I look at the fish in the sink.
The fish had been bled out and gutted, and were lying in a tight pile.
First, I decided to cut the horse mackerel that Sawaguchi san had caught into three pieces.
I inserted the knife into the horse mackerel up to the middle bone and carefully moved the blade to the tail to separate the meat from the body. The three pieces of fileted horse mackerel are completed when the remaining bones are separated from the body.
From here, I pick up the skin with my fingers and slowly pull off the skin with the knife.
After that, cut the fish into pieces and serve it on a plate.
“It’s so fatty, I can expect to eat sashimi with it.”
I got some of the fat on my hands while I was processing the fish, but I can assure you that the meat was plump and tasty.
I prepared a separate small plate for Sawaguchi san’s first catch of horse mackerel so that she could eat it.
Then, I cut the remaining horse mackerels into pieces. After opening the horse mackerel, I cut off the bones and finished the work. After that, I dipped the horse mackerel in the batter, and it was ready to be fried.
“Aikawa kun, the seasoning is ready.”
At this point, Watanabe san called out to me.
“Thank you. Can you marinate the horse mackerel filets and put them in the refrigerator?”
The amount of horse mackerel we caught was quite large, so I decided to prepare it for tomorrow’s breakfast.
I put the filets and seasonings in a bag with a zipper for storing food, and let it sit for a while to give it a nice flavor.
If you eat it with rice, your chopsticks will definitely go wild.
“A-amazing ! You’ve already processed this many fish?”
Watanabe san praises me. She was surprised that I had done so much in the short time.
Horse mackerel is not a difficult fish to skin, so I’m used to this level of processing.
“I think most people who process and eat the fish they catch can do this much.”
I answered in a safe manner, and started to work on the next fish.
Since I caught fewer fish than horse mackerel, this one would be a piece of cake.
I put the mackerel on the cutting board and went to work….
“Do you mind if I observe?”
“I-I don’t mind at all……”
It was not something to ask permission for. Watanabe san looks at me with a serious expression. I felt her body warmth close to me and put the knife down.
I turn my head to the side and my eyes meet hers very closely.
“Watanabe san, if you want to observe, you can start from the left side, also could I ask you to move a little further?”
My dominant hand was cramped, and there was a chance I might hurt her, so I asked her to move away.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
She moved away in a hurry and let her gaze wander from side to side.
“Basically, the process of skinning mackerel is no different from that of horse mackerel; once the blood is drained and the entrails are taken out, the fish will retain its flavor.”
As I explained the process, I moved the knife.
I was not planning to make sashimi this time, so I just had to remove the head and tail and I was almost done.
“Don’t you make the mackerel into sashimi?”
Watanabe san, who was watching me work beside her, looked into my face and asked me a question.
“Because mackerel has a parasite called anisakis. In order to eat it raw, you have to freeze it for 48 hours at least.”
That would have sent both Sawaguchi sam, who caught it, and Watanabe san home, so I opted to cook it over a fire this time.
“I see, that might be a little scary.’
Perhaps the word “parasite” sounded eerie, and there was a shadow on Watanabe san’s beautiful face.
I put the mackerel filets in the frying pan and began to cook them on both sides.
“It’s okay. If you tighten and gut the fish right after you catch it, anisakis won’t migrate to the meat, and it’s definitely safe if you grill it like this.”
I reassure her.
All that remains is to grill the mackerel just enough to make the skin golden brown, throw in the miso sauce Watanabe san had prepared in advance, cover with a drop-lid, and simmer. After a few minutes, the mackerel stew is ready.
Finally, the squid is processed and cut into strips. Since live squid is transparent, translucent squid somen is arranged on the plate after serving.
The dish is finished with fried horse mackerel, as requested by Sawaguchi san, and horse mackerel crackers made by deep frying the leftover bones after slicing them into three pieces.
“Phew, I wonder if we can have dinner with this for the time being. I’m going to serve the food and take it to the Japanese-style room, so can you ask the others to come over?”
She replied and was about to leave…….
She stopped moving and began to fidget.
“Ah, there is something I wanted to ask you, Aikawa kun.”
I wondered, had she forgotten to ask a question because I was processing the fish in such a hurry?
“Don’t worry, you can ask me anything.”
I have been cooking all these years, so I’m confident in my ability to handle horse mackerel and mackerel. She responded with a smile, as if she would answer any question.
However, she finally spoke up without releasing her nervousness.
“H-how did you like me in my swimsuit?”
I thought she was talking about cooking, but the unexpected question left me speechless.
“If I didn’t get any feedback, does that mean it doesn’t suit me?”
Meanwhile, Watanabe san is looking serious–or rather, depressed with a sad expression on her face.
For some reason, she seems to be concerned about my opinion of her, even though Aizawa has complimented her.
“No…..that kind of thing,……”
“Please stop worrying !”
I can feel her desperation. I told her she could ask me anything, but I couldn’t not answer her.
“I’m going to say this first. I’m really not good at making up words. That’s why I can only speak honestly…….”
Watanabe san nodded her head and never looked away from me. The tension rises as I gaze into her beautiful eyes.
“Y-your swimsuit looks good on you, Watanabe san. I couldn’t take my eyes off of you for the first time in my life.”
My face heated up as I said my thoughts. Because of my nervousness, I don’t really remember what I just said. But the feeling I felt when I saw her in her swimsuit was genuine.
I spoke to her timidly. I answered her, but she didn’t respond, so I wondered if I had made her feel uncomfortable.
“Thank you for answering. I’m going to go get the others.”
With that, she turned her face away and walked out.
What was it all about?
When I was tilting my head, I found myself at a loss for words.
“Aikawacchi, are you finished cooking? Huh ! What a great amount !?”
Sawaguchi san, who had cleaned off the dirt in the bath and changed her clothes, came in.
“Yeah, I’m just about to carry it to the Japanese-style room.
“If so, I’ll help you carry it.”
Saying that, Sawaguchi san lent me a hand,
“By the way, Aikawacchi, did you do something to Misa?”
“No, she just helped me with the dishes.”
I can’t mention the swimsuit thing. If I do a bad job, I will have to tell Sawaguchi san what I think of her swimsuit as well, and that will confirm my death.
“What’s wrong with Watanabe san?”
Sawaguchi san had an unexplained expression on her face, so I decided to ask her.
“She looked so happy when I saw her in the hallway, so I wondered if Aikawacchi had said something to her.”
Sawaguchi san stared at me suspiciously, and I had no choice but to remain silent.
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