While simmering the pot in the stove, I prepared another ingredient for my soup. I sliced potatoes, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and parsley. Then I rinse some rice to clean the rice and soak it in the coconut milk before I used it later. I check the pot on the stove. The content of the pot is fish broth that I prepared last night by simmering fish head that already soaked in lime essence to remove its fishy smell. I simmering this fish head almost half night to get a thick broth which rich with fish nutrient. After the broth done, I strain the fish broth from the pot into another clean pot and filter the fish parts from broth using a colander. Finally, I get a fish-free broth but rich in fish nutrient. I keep simmering this broth at home and only stop simmering when I bring the pot to Palace Kitchen. Now in this fish-free broth, I add another ingredient that I already sliced before like potatoes, carrot, celery, tomatoes and parsley and the fish fillet that I carefully removed all the bones one by one last night. I keep simmering the broth for a quarter hour. I add salt and pepper to add the flavor to the soup. And the last thing, I put the rice that already soaked in coconut milk into the soup and let it simmer over the stove for 20 minutes.
When I'm still in the last step in finishing cook my soup, Eunuch Hong, who responsible for the King food, enter the Palace Kitchen and make an announcement.
"All the dishes that will be presented to your highness King Shi should be all prepared within half an hour!"
All the cook that has the duty to prepare the King lunch today and haven't finished it hurriedly try to finish their cooking. With my speed of cooking, I believe I will finish before the time is up.
Carefully I stir the soup slowly to make sure all ingredient mix thoroughly within my soup.
Eunuch Hong, who waiting for all the dishes prepared, walking around the kitchen to inspect the work of the cook in the Palace Kitchen. When he arrived near me, senior cook Bao who seems already finished his work, introduce me to Eunuch Hong
"Your excellency Hong, today's soup is made by our talented junior cook You Ben. He's the one" he said while pointing at me who still stirring the soup.
"Your name is You Ben? I hope you can impress your highness. It's been a while from last time when a junior cook promoted to senior cook"
"I put my utmost effort in this soup, your excellency Hong. I hope my dish suit with your highness taste"
"Hmmm, what do you make?"
"Fish soup, your excellency"
"I hope you know what you make"
Eunuch Hong continues his inspecting with senior cook Bao. I didn't notice that senior cook Bao slipping something into the palm of eunuch Hong during our talking.
Finally, my soup is done. I pour the soup into the jade bowl that usually used by the King to eat soup. I put the sliced lime in the bowl edge to add more flavor before putting a lid over the bowl. Before I put it in food cart that will deliver into King's dining chamber later, I check once again the condition of the soup.
- Thickness : okay, not too thick and not too thin either
- Potato : all in soft state and cut in slice and dice in bite size
- Rice : soft, but not too soft like porridge
- Aroma : although I put several spices, the fish freshness still can be smell from there
- Temperature : not too hot when presented to the King
After all have been check and I satisfied with the result, I put the soup in the food cart.
All dishes that will be the King lunch and worked by other cooks finally ready and put together in the food cart. Eunuch Hong orders his men to pull the cart into the dining chamber. Actually, I want to follow them but Eunuch Hong prevent me to come along by saying
"Young man, if your highness pleased with your cook, you will be called to the dining chamber. You should wait here until the lunch finish"
"Yes, your excellency, thank for remind me"
So I have to wait in the Palace Kitchen until the King finished his lunch and give his evaluation of my dish.