Chapter 18 – Stinky Tofu (Part 3)
Rehosted by – Kitchennovel.com
Re-Translated and Edited by Gumihou
On the day of the grand opening, Xiao Qi and Lao Er left the Lin family mansion to help out. Though they have only been at the Lin Clan for a few days, their energies felt different. Xiao Qi had gotten livelier, whereas Lao Er looked incredibly tired.
The Lin Clan training regiment was incredibly brutal, as a mere child of 12 or 13 and a commoner at that, Lao Er was at a great disadvantage. In fact, for someone like Lao Er, you may even call this regiment a form of torture.
The most depressing thing about this form of training was not its physical toll on the body, but the indisputable fact that no matter how much effort you put in, a talentless person could not advance half a step even as your peers raced passed you.
However, Lao Er never complained.
Shiyu chose to say nothing, deciding to see just how great Lao Er’s resolve was. If nothing else, she would just have to source for another Fire Seed later.
With this determined, Shiyu focussed her attention onto the restaurant. Whenever a new restaurant opens its doors, they must come up with a special signature dish to distinguish themselves from others. Just what kind of dish would attract the greatest attention?
The scent of good wine does not fear darkened alleyways. You must first prepare the richest wine, and let the scent permeated through the entire city. The same could be said for a good dish.
Shiyu spent some time pondering over dishes with special scents and fragrances. However, while the dish she finally decided on has a rather unique smell, it could not be called a ‘fragrance’.
After all, since ‘fragrance’ was so common, let’s go with stinkiness!
Speaking about stinky dishes, there were several she could chose from. Naturally, the most famous would be the Stinky Tofu. More importantly, the cost of production was not high. For a new restaurant to create impact, this dish was perfect.
After a few days’ preparation, Heavenly Fragrance Restaurant was finally opened for business. Shiyu did not want to trouble herself over the minutia of the business, and left most of the opening ceremony business to Grandpa and shut herself in the kitchen. She started making preparations for the day’s portion of Stinky Tofu.
Xiao Qi held her breath as she transferred the Stinky Tofu next to the stove, and looked up, “Can those things still be eaten?”
Shiyu poked her little nose, “I guarantee that it’ll be so delicious that you’ll want to swallow your tongue with it.” That said, she turned to Xiao Wu, “Make sure you watch what I do.”
She had noticed this for some time now, this Xiao Wu was a true foodie with some talent for cooking. Since he was interested, she wanted to nurture this talent well.
“En.” Xiao Wu nodded eagerly.
The oil in the wok had reached the correct temperature for frying. The Stinky Tofu had already been cut into small cubes, the moment she slide in a plate of the tofu into the hot oil, it began to sizzle. The tofu soon turned a crisp golden colour, it was swiftly followed by a most tremendous stink.
The stink that had been confined within the kitchen burst forth beyond the walls of the restaurant, insinuating itself into the streets and alleys around it…
“What’s that stink, ah!” people passing the restaurant pinched their noses, and began looking frantically around for the source.
“I think it’s coming from that restaurant.” someone said.
“What are you guys talking about, what stink? This… is a most wonderful fragrance, ah…” others inhaled the air as though they were about to drink in the smell. “What’s this delicious thing? So fragrant!”
Under the glare of everyone for being such a perverse creature, the people who declare this hideous stink fragrant soon tracked down the source of the smell.
Back at the restaurant, Shiyu fished out the Stinky Tofu and handed some to the others, “Don’t look down on its appearance, it’s really not bad.”
There really isn’t much trick to making Stinky Tofu, the most important step was making the actual ‘fresh’ tofu and letting it ferment before frying it for a while.
Xiao Wu looked at the pure white plate, contrasting wildly against the black and golden brown cubes of tofu. It was still sizzling. Unable to wait any longer, he snatched up a piece and stuffed his mouth. The flaky tofu crushed easily against the roof of his mouth and a most unique fragrance invaded his nose.
Sometimes, something can be so utterly ugly that it became a unique beauty. A most terrible stink could also tipped over into fragrance.
“Well?” Xiao Liu and Xiao Qi looked at him with wide eyes.
“Try it out yourself.” after saying this, Xiao Wu popped another piece of tofu into his mouth.
Since Xiao Wu put it like that, the thing had to be delicious.
Shiyu stood aside and watched them tried this unique food for a while before coming forward to teach them how to dress up up dishes. “Man must be clothed, horses should be saddled; a fine touch here and there, and your customers will feel valued.”
At this time, Lin Fan arrived. With him were some of the Lin Clan chefs. This was something they had agreed before. These chefs would also assist Heavenly Fragrance as chefs, otherwise with only Shiyu as the sole chef wouldn’t she just die from exhaustion? Therefore, they came here to cook most of the standard dishes while Shiyu took care of the signature dishes.
“So the signature dish will be this Stinky Tofu?” asked one of the newly arrived chefs.
“Of course not.” Shiyu sniggered at their expressions. “This Stinky Tofu is just a small side dish. A way to catch people’s attention. A true signature dish cannot be like this.”
After all, a signature dish can’t lack detail. It’s flavours had to be layered, nothing too simple or straightforward. There’s a reason why some dishes in China lasted over 5000 years. Some places even became synonymous, even famous, because of the signature dishes there. Hunan’s Chopped Chilli Fish Head was just one such example. There’s also Sichuan’s Mabo Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken and Fragrant Pork Strip Stir Fry… pick any one of them and it would stand out proud as a restaurant’s signature dish.
However, Shiyu had no intention of setting out all her good cards at once.
She’ll bring out the dishes one by one. Only once Xiao Wu had mastered the dish would she switch the dish.
“So, may we know what the signature dish will be?” the chef asked.
However, Shiyu evaded the question by saying, “You’re all chefs invited by Lin Fan. How about all of you make your signature dish for me? If it’s good, you may stay in this restaurant.”
The chefs were naturally unhappy. “Since we’re ordered here by third young master, whether we stay or leave depends on him.”
“In other words, I can’t order you around?” Shiyu frowned. “That’s fine, anyone who did not wish to stay, leave! There’s no way I’m paying 10 silver taels per month for a disobedient person.”
The chefs who had been itching to leave suddenly stopped.
10… silver taels?
Heavens, ah! Even now they find it hard to scrape a single silver tael per month. If they could work here, wouldn’t their wages increase 10 fold?! Only an idiot would leave.
“You speak the truth?” they said, still not quite believing their ears.
“Of course,” Shiyu clapped her hands and Lao Er came in with a tray covered with a red cloth. Shiyu lifted the cloth, and neatly lined up on the tray were rows upon rows of silver taels…
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 剁椒魚頭 – Chopped Chilli Fish Head
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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