Chapter 45 - Preserved Egg

Adorable Food Goddess Zi Yi 281, 紫伊281 2022/9/21 8:42:39

Chapter 45: Preserved Egg


Li Er Niang’s older brother’s restaurant was right by the Qin Huai River. It was built facing the river in an excellent district, three-story high, and richly ornamented. The roof steep even boasted a domineering name of ‘Heavenly Residence’.

How did this kind of signboard did not get censored?

Li Er Niang brought Ye Jiayao to her brother, the boss of that restaurant.

He was talking to one of his workers when they walked in. “The ingredients must be fresh. Pick the good ones because those aristocrats are not normal people. Every single one of them has high standards.”

The henchman took the menu and went back to work.

Li Er Niang called out, “Big brother.”

“Sister, you’re here.” He saw a young man following behind his sister and asked, “Brother-in-law did not come with you today?”

Li Er Niang smiled and shook her head. “I brought you a chef. Today, he will assist me and make a few dishes on his own. If you’re satisfied with his work, you can hire him.”

Ye Jiayao walks up to him and bowed. “Shopkeeper Li, I am Li Yao.”

Shopkeeper Li could not help but frown but frown at how young Ye Jiayao looked. He has never known a chef that was this young. However, since second sister brought him here, he would give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, this was all just a trial and he doesn’t have to keep him. “Then, have a go. Just one thing before you start, Heavenly Residence might not be Jin Ling’s top restaurant, it is still quite renowned. We have high expectations for our chefs.”

Ye Jiayao expressed her understanding respectfully. A restaurant’s success relies on many factors such as location, environment, service, and marketing and more. However, the crux was always the dishes. Were the dishes tasty? Were the meals unique? Could the food keep the customers coming back? This restaurant, in particular, had to put their ducks in order in order to gain a foothold in a place full of masters like Jin Ling.

Therefore, regardless of what restaurant it was, the head chef was of high importance. Restaurant owners would not hesitate to attract chefs with large sums of money because a famous head chef is one of the restaurant’s main attraction.

Ye Jiayao didn’t dare to claim to be the best as there were always better chefs than her. Moreover, she has just arrived at Jin Ling and she was not familiar with the food and beverage industry in the city.

She humbly replied, “Thank you, shopkeeper Li, for giving me this chance. I will definitely work hard.” Ye Jiayao has to work hard to get this job. This would be a high starting point for her that might mean she would struggle for lesser years.

A workstation that was more than 10 meters long, with more than 10 helpers handling various ingredients, was prominent inside the kitchen. The chopping sounds overlapped in different rhythms and formed a whole percussion. Further inside, there was a row of more than 10 big stoves and small stoves, their fires burning a fiery red. Such scale should be considered formidable in ancient times, just as expected from a reputable restaurant.

Once Li Er Niang stepped into the kitchen, everyone stopped to greet her.

Li Er Niang gave a single nod of acknowledgment, rolled up her sleeves and put her apron on. She passed one to Ye Jiayao who immediately tied it up around her.

“What kind of dishes are you best at?” Li Er Niang passed her a set of the restaurant’s menu.

Ye Jiayao browsed the menu. She knew how to make all the dishes on the menu, but some of them she has yet to try. Today was her interview and assessment, and by letting her choose, Er Niang was going the extra mile to take care of her. Ye Jiayao has to?use her special skills to pass in one go.

“Wen Si Tofu, Pork Meatballs with Crab Roe, and Quick-fry Cuttlefish,” Ye Jiayao answered.

She selected these three dishes after careful consideration. First, today’s main agenda was the assessment so she was not allowed to make too many dishes. Second, these three dishes were the signature dishes of Jiang Su cuisine. Wen Si Tofu would showcase her knife skills, Pork Meatball with Crab Roe would display her techniques in seasoning, and Quick-fry Cuttlefish would show-off her excellent control over fire. All the three dishes she chose were enough to reflect skills and abilities that were required for a chef.

Li Er Niang looked indifferent as she said, “Then, you will handle these three dishes. You can start now.”

Ye Jiayao washed her hands and took a piece of soft tofu. This tofu was more tender and supple than elsewhere. It was a little like egg tofu and is suitable for making Wen Si Tofu soup.

Once the helpers saw her pose, they knew that this ‘young man’ was trying out for a job. The original head chef, Niu, got poached by Xiang Yi Restaurant and shopkeeper Li had been fretting over the matter for a long time. Thankfully, shopkeeper Li’s sister who has high culinary skills saved the situation. Though, ever since Niu left, everyone had been curious as who would take over the position of head chef.

Everyone temporarily stopped their work to watch.

After studying in the modern education system, Ye Jiayao was experienced in dealing with stressful situations. She took a deep breath, let go of the thoughts of all unnecessary things, and started cutting decisively.

The blade hit the chopping board at a set second, producing a crisp methodical sound.

Though the way she handled the knife was impressive, her knife skills could only be judged when the tofu was placed in water. The tofu has to be in thin and complete strands.

The chopping sounds stopped, and Li Er Niang brought a bowl of water and placed it in front of Ye Jiayao.

Ye Jiayao used the knife to sweep up the cut tofu carefully and placed it in the water. Using a chopstick, she gently brushed the tofu strands apart.

Everyone gasped, their surprise almost palpable.

The phrase “as thin as hair” was only used to describe foods that had undergone meticulous knife skills. However, at the moment, the tofu strands of equal length and thickness that Ye Jiayao had done were literally as thin as a hair.

Everyone could not help but exclaim in awe.

A look of surprise swept pass Li Er Niang’s face. Little brother Li’s knife skills far exceeded her expectations, and she has to admit that even she could not compare.

Ye Jiayao was still tensed. The assessment?was not over yet, and she still had to do bamboo slices.

Tofu was soft and fragile, making it difficult to cut. Bamboo shoots, however, were crisp and even easier to break. Slicing it as thin as the tofu strands was?more difficult. She has raised the bar high with her tofu strands, and now, the rest of the dishes has to get on the same level.

By the time all the ingredients were sliced, Ye Jiayao’s back was drenched with sweat.

In the Jing An Hou mansion, the first maid in Xia Chunyu’s house, Qing Liu, came to ask for his preference for lunch.

What to eat??That was a question that Xia Chunyu was very particular about in the past, but has now lost interest in.

“Anything,” he lazily replied.

Qing Liu was not at all surprised upon hearing his answer. It has been eight days since heir-son lord came back, and his reply was the same every time she asked him that question. She just has been ordering the kitchen to make food based on the heir-son lord’s past preferences. Even then, Xia Chunyu only takes few small bites and dismisses the food.

His attitude has worried the servants. They were unsure if there was something wrong with the heir-son lord’s health. This issue even alarmed the old madam so she invited a royal physician to examine her son.

A short while after, his lunch was served. The kitchen has prepared him a steamed fish, a plate of chestnut chicken, spare ribs with Wu Xi sauce, pork meatballs, and three strips soup.

Xia Chunyu was reminded of Yaoyao’s cooking upon seeing the exquisite dishes, especially the pork meatballs.

Perhaps it was only a psychological effect, but Xia Chunyu, ever since he came down the mountain, thought that no one makes better food than Yaoyao. Yaoyao was the one who makes his stomach picky.??Perhaps, I just miss your food.

Seeing heir-son lord raise his chopsticks without picking anything at all, Qing Liu and Qiao Xi exchanged worried looks.

After coming back from the trip, heir-son lord lost a lot of weight. He has also become silent as though there was something heavy weighing down in his heart.

“Heir-son lord.” Song Qi called, bringing in a bowl merrily.

Xia Chunyu sniffed, frowning. “What did you bring? Why is it so smelly?”

Song Qi laughed and put the bowl before the heir-son lord. “Heir-son lord, this is preserved egg. I brought it back from the mountains. Miss Ye marinated it and said that it can be eaten after 45 days. I almost forgot about it.”

Xia Chunyu raised his eyebrows, exclaiming in surprise, “She made it? This is so smelly! Are you sure it can be eaten?”

The preserved egg does not only smell nasty, it doesn’t look particularly appetizing as well. It was a lump of black and yellow, translucent with a few specks of white snowflake-like patterns. Never before had he seen such peculiar eggs.

Song Qi replied, “I have yet to try it, but according to Miss Ye, this preserved egg is good stuff. It can dispel internal heat and decrease inflammation. It’s good for the heart and mind also delicious.”

Xia Chunyu looks at the size of the egg, asking, “It is made with duck egg?”

“It is. Auntie Jiang gave those duck eggs, but upon hearing that heir-son lord does not like to eat duck eggs, Miss Ye made them into preserved eggs.”

“You already know that I don’t eat duck egg. Why did you bring it here?” Xia Chunyu asked apathetically.

Song Qi pouted. Ever since Miss Ye died, heir-son lord has never had a proper meal. Song Qi just suddenly remembered about the preserved eggs today and he brought it to the heir-son lord in the hopes of getting him to eat.

“I will take it away right now,” Song Qi muttered with discontent.

“Leave it!” Xia Chunyu ordered emotionlessly.

He thought he would not be able to eat Yaoyao’s cooking ever again, so knowing about the preserved eggs she made him was a relief. Even if tasted awful, Xia Chunyu would still eat it down to the last bite.

Xia Chunyu used his chopsticks to cut the egg into small pieces. He dipped it in some sauce before taking a nibble. He was surprised at the contradiction. This thing was smelly and ugly but it tasted fresh and smooth. It has a unique taste.

With just two eggs, Xia Chunyu actually finished a whole bowl of rice. He even requested for additional helpings.

“How many preserved eggs are there?” Xia Chunyu asked.

“Around 20 to 30 of them.”

Xia Chunyu sighed in disappointment. He would finish that in no time and he’d be left with none of Yaoyao’s dish again.

“Starting tomorrow, bring me one every morning. It does not go that well with rice so I think it compliments porridge more.”

“Ay! Then I shall hand this egg to the kitchen,” Song Qi acknowledged happily.

Both Qing Liu and Qiao Xi were curious of this Miss Ye? Why was the heir-son lord enjoying the smelly thing that she made?

“Oh! Heir-son lord, Yong An Hou heir-son lord was holding a feast at Heavenly Residence today and he invited you over. This is the invitation.” Song Qi handed Xia Chunyu the invitation.

Xia Chunyu’s enthusiasm waned. During this time, there were all sorts of invitations to celebratory feasts that he was beyond tired of handling. He simply replied, “Just say that I am feeling unwell. Return?it!”