The Female Supporting Role Shows Out - Chapter 27
Translator: NovelMultiverse | Editor: NovelMultiverse
When Lin Dan arrived, Chef Qiu was standing at the back door looking out. When he saw the carriage, he immediately came forward and said, “Master, be careful when you get out of the car. No, don’t jump, I’ll help you down.”
But before he could finish speaking, Lin Dan had already lifted the curtain of the car and leaped out of the carriage quickly before striding into the door. “I heard that Yan’s Restaurant has launched another signature dish called Braised Fish Head?”
“That’s right. It’s a dish made with the silver carp head without bones. It was well-received by diners as soon as it was launched. I wanted to ask a friend to get takeout of that dish, but Yan’s restaurant refused to sell any takeouts and only allowed dine-ins. I suppose this is their tactic to guard against us. Master, I heard that the fish head has no bones at all, it is soft and tender after stewing for a long time and is very delicious. How do you think they do it? What kind of cutting technique can be used to remove all the bones from the fish head? It must be really a delicate technique.” Chef Qiu exclaimed.
“It’s nothing delicate.” Lin Dan explained briefly, “There are two ways to remove fish bones, one is removing it raw and the other is removing after the meat is cooked. As the fish head has less meat and more bones, it may seem impossible to be removed, but the flesh can actually be easily removed after boiling in water for a long time.”
The question that had been boggling Chef Qiu for the whole night had been solved after Lin Dan had explained to him. In terms of cooking skills, he had never met anyone more knowledgeable and wiser than Lin Dan. Yan’s Restaurant had introduced three new dishes – Squirrel Mandarin Fish, Grilled Black Ginseng with Scallion, and Crab Stuffed Lionhead. Initially, the Squirrel Mandarin Fish was selling very well and took away all the regular diners of the Qiaoyuan Restaurant, which almost made Chef Qiu shut the restaurant down. But since Lin Dan introduced the Golden Lion Fish, the regular diners had returned in the afternoon. They were looking forward to Lin Dan’s visit to the store to teach her apprentice, so they could seize the chance to try some of her cooking.
In order to help Qiaoyuan Restaurant, Lin Dan would prepare dishes for five tables of diners each time. But these dishes had managed to attract some of the pickiest food connoisseurs in the capital. These people were refusing to patronize other restaurants even if they were dying of hunger and would rather wait in the restaurant.
Seeing that the squirrel mandarin fish could not impress their diners, Imperial Chef Yan developed another new dish called Grilled Black Ginseng with Scallions. The dish was made by simmering the entire black ginseng in a thick sauce to create a unique taste with a soft but chewy texture.
But it had seemed as though Lin Dan was determined to get into their way. The next day, she also came up with a dish called Sauce-stuffed Black Ginseng. This dish was a display of her superb culinary skills with its exquisite seasoning and was even better than Yan’s Braised Black Ginseng on multiple levels. “Stuffing” is a unique cooking method. It is done by sandwiching, stuffing, or pouring a food ingredient into another ingredient to make a dish. Some of the common stuffed dishes include stuffed bean curd, stuffed eggplant, stuffed bitter gourd, and so on. But this was the first time Chef Qiu had seen stuffed black ginseng.
The “sauce” did not refer to any other sauce, but shrimp paste. It was made with shrimp roe, which was stir-fried in soy sauce, cooking wine, fine salt, and other seasonings before sealing it in a jar for fermentation. After the fermentation was completed, it was kneaded into a strip and stuffed into the black ginseng. Then, it was simmered in the milky pork broth, before being added to the braised soup. It was simmered on high heat to reduce the soup before simmering slowly in low heat to ensure that the saltiness and freshness of the shrimp paste were completely fused into the black ginseng. When serving the dish on the table for the guests, the server had to cut the black ginseng with a knife into inch-long pieces so that the guests could share their food.
The simmered black ginseng that was covered with the shrimp roe sauce was tender and rich in flavor. It tasted sweet yet salty, and there was also a lingering aftertaste. The filling of the sauce could also be adjusted according to the customer’s preference. It could be replaced with the chewy mullet roe or made with fresh roe directly. Slight adjustments in cooking methods and fillings could be made to one dish and three or more flavors could be produced. Would diners have more to ask? This was why the Grilled Black Ginseng did not manage to gain a lot of traction, but the Sauce-stuffed Black Ginseng from Qiaoyuan Restaurant completely took the limelight on the next day.
Yan Langqing was an imperial chef after all and would never give up easily. In half a month’s time, she introduced another new dish called Crab Stuffed Lion Head. It was a dish made with minced pork and crab powder to create a tender and juicy taste. Seeing that Yan’s restaurant had been revived with the dish, Lin Dan launched a new dish called Fortune Balls. The name of the dish may sound mysterious, but it was also made with minced pork that tasted fresher, soft, and juicer than the Crab Stuffed Lion Head.[Read this novel and other amazing translated novels from the original source at the “Novel Multiverse dot com” website @ novelmultiverse.com]
Firstly, she soaked the minced pork in green onion and ginger water. This green onion and ginger water must be squeezed from fresh yellow ginger and green onions that came with the roots, or the smell would not be strong enough to conceal the smell of pork. In order to make the meatballs taste fresher and softer, she added the minced fish paste to increase the viscosity and keep it in shape. Finally, the pork bones were crushed and the bone marrow within was completed mixed into the minced meat before being kneaded in shape. After finishing the three steps, the meatballs would be full of flavor and taste delicious and juicy. The meatballs could be deep-fried, braised, or boiled in clear soup. With one bite, the thick juice within the meatball would burst and fill one’s mouth.
As a result, the diners who had finally returned to Yan’s restaurant had once again flocked to the Qiaoyuan Restaurant. The business of Yan’s restaurant was bleak and full of ups and downs.
After two rounds of “fight” between the two restaurants, it was easy for diners to catch a pattern. Seeing that Imperial Chef Yan had introduced another new dish called Braised Fish Head, the diners had all arrived at Qiaoyuan Restaurant after tasting the dish at Yan’s Restaurant, and the reason was obvious. The diners got bored while waiting, and the old manager decided to invite some storytellers in the hall and offer melon seeds and fresh fruits to keep the diners entertained.
Lin Dan only cooked dishes for five tables of diners at Qiaoyuan Restaurant each time. If the diners did not arrive early enough to take a table, they would not know how long it would take for them to try her cooking again. For a picky food connoisseur, waiting was worse than torture. Seeing that the hour was approaching, Prince Cheng took the lead in urging, “Manager, is that head chef here yet? Look at Yan’s restaurant, the fish head has already been out for the whole day, shouldn’t the chef be here to show her hands?”
“Exactly, I’ve waited since last night, and I’m famished.” Everyone laughed at Prince Gong patting his stomach in an unashamed manner.
Although the new dishes of Yan’s Restaurant were delicious, they had become the “signpost” for Qiaoyuan Restaurant. The diners swarmed to Qiaoyuan Restaurant each time after they had received a “sign” from Yan’s restaurant. The diners were all conditioned to behave in this way after the two consecutive months of fighting between the two restaurants.
Although Yan Langqing was an imperial chef and was also favored by the Emperor, she was merely a chef, and her status was much lower than the princes, marquises, and the first-rank officials. This was why the diners had no reason to please her, they visited her restaurant just because they enjoyed her food. This was the same for everyone else – diners could tell apart good and bad quality food and should be taken seriously.
As soon as Lin Dan entered the kitchen to teach Chef Qiu how to make the Braised Fish Head, the old manager hurried in and asked respectfully, “Chef Lin, will you be making a new dish today? The patrons can’t wait to have a taste of it.”
“Yes, a new dish of course.” Lin Dan rolled up her sleeves slowly and continued, “From the beginning, I have agreed to teach Chef Qiu a new dish each time Yan’s restaurant introduces one. This promise will apply unless Yan’s restaurant is no longer in business. “
“Is she thinking of taking down Yan’s Restaurant?!” Chef Qiu thought and lowered his head to say a prayer for the Yan family. But in the next moment, he raised his head and looked at his master with sparkling eyes.
The old manager was completely relieved and hurried out to tell the long-awaited diners the good news.
Lin Dan washed her hands and picked a four-catty bass. She shocked the fish before placing it on the cutting board and said, “As I said, there are two ways to remove fish bones, one is the cooked meat removal and the other is the raw meat removal. The dish I’ll be teaching you today is called the Immortal Boneless Fish which also has no bones. The bones are removed by combining both the raw and cooked meat removal methods. Watch me carefully.” Once she finished speaking, she made a cut from the fish spine to separate the spine and ribs completely while ensuring that the flesh of the belly was still intact. After the ribs and spine were separated, the fish could spread into the shape of a pair of beautiful butterfly wings. Then, holding onto the fishtail, she removed the entire fish spine along the direction of the fish head, before making two shallow cuts to separate the ribs.
The bass had few bones, to begin with, it only came with a spine and two rows of rib bones. The bones were all removed with just four cuts, while the meat below the head and above the tail were all intact.
“This is the raw meat bone removal method. This requires your cutting skills to be clean and shallow.” Lin Dan combined the two pieces of fish meat and tied them together with green onion leaves so that it looked like a whole fish again. This could also prevent the fish from breaking into pieces when it was stewing in the soup.
“This cooking method was inspired by the Huaiyang cuisine which stewed all kinds of food to create all kinds of flavors.” Lin Dan put the boneless fish into the pot and continued: “It can be stewed in the milky pork broth to create the three-treasure flavor, stewed in the braised soup, or stewed in hot and sour flavors in the spicy soup. It can all be adjusted depending on the customer’s request. A variety of rich flavors can be created with this dish to satisfy a variety of preferences – this is the biggest characteristic of the Immortal Boneless Fish.”
Chef Qiu listened intently, he watched Lin Dan displaying her superb culinary techniques, and listened to her vivid explanations on the different cooking methods. He was so fascinated that he could not help but wonder, “Master, how do you know so much? Dad and my grandfather were old imperial chefs in the palace, but they didn’t seem to know as much as you.”
Lin Dan smiled and replied, “If you follow the standard, foods are usually divided into the imperial dishes, official dishes, and folk dishes. But did you know that there are in fact no imperial dishes and official dishes in the world because they are developed from folk dishes? True delicacies come from the folks. You will naturally learn a lot by eating, watching, cooking these dishes. In order to hone my cooking skills, I volunteered to be a kitchen assistant whenever I arrived at a new place and helped out at places where banquets were held. There are many varieties of food in a folk banquet, including the big eight bowl style, big nine bowl style, thirteen specialties, and even a table of fifty-two dishes, which was less exquisite than a palace banquet. Think about it, how much effort does it take to make fifty-two unique dishes without repeating it? And as banquets are held at weddings and ceremonies, which are grand and solemn events, it was important not to ruin the appetite of the guests. So, just how much knowledge is needed to prepare for a banquet? I have thoroughly studied these skills and knowledge and learning how to cook will come naturally.”
Chef Qiu did not say anything for a long time. When the fairy boneless fish was taken out of the pot, he said sincerely, “Master, Yan Langqing is definitely way behind as compared to you!”
Lin Dan did not reply to his comment but only shook her head and chuckled. She called the waiter to serve the dish before taking another fish and started removing its bones.[Read this novel and other amazing translated novels from the original source at the “Novel Multiverse dot com” website @ novelmultiverse.com]