The Feast – 257 – Northeastern Stewed Dish

The Feast – 257 – Northeastern Stewed Dish

Chapter 257: Northeastern Stewed Dish

 

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Onionpi

Please read this at kitchennovel dot com

 

As she spoke, she removed her overcoat and changed into a thin housecoat before sitting down next to Duan Tingxuan to ask what the crown prince came here for. Duan Tingxuan did not bother to hide anything and explained all that had passed within his study in a low voice.

Su Nuan Nuan placed her hands together and murmured, “Amitabha, I believe that matter could now be considered properly settled. So, the crown prince has no intention of investigating the fourth prince? As for the fourth prince… he would probably never know his true background?”

“Of course.” Duan Tingxuan nodded. After some thought, he said a little heavily, “From what I know of the fourth prince’s character, knowing would only bring him pain. There’s a possibility that he might do something rash. Though he appeared candid and open, he is quite noble and virtuous and proud of his status. He is also burdened with the sense of… what was it you said last time? That’s right, mysophobia.

He’s a bit mysophobic if he knew that his blood father intended to make use of him as a pawn to gain the throne, he would first be angry, but then very soon he would most likely do something foolish. Therefore, it’s better for him to not know. Otherwise, I don’t know what he might do. Only, it’s so hateful that only I and Dong Lou are left holding such a huge secret together. What a disaster.”

“Enough, isn’t it all for the sake of the fourth prince? Just keep calm and carry on. He treats you quite well too, right?” Su Nuan Nuan comforted her husband. Just then, they heard Hong Lian called out, “Master, Missy, dinner is prepared. Would you like to have it now or a little later?”

“Let’s have it now if we wait anymore the dishes will become cold.” Said Su Nuan Nuan. She stood up and said to Duan Tingxuan, “When I went to the kitchen earlier, I noticed there are some very nice runner beans and had a sudden craving. Just as well Ms. Xue knows what I like and had sent them to me. I’ve been salting two large jars full of pork ribs since spring. I checked them earlier and found that they’re ready to be eaten. So, for tonight’s dinner, I’ve made a large pot of Stewed Salted Pork Rib with Potatoes and Runner Beans [1]. It is inspired by a dish from Liaodong, so this would be the first time I make this. It’s your lucky day today.”

Duan Tingxuan smiled, “Can runner beans be stewed? Aren’t they usually stir-fried with sliced meat? The runner bean buns you made at the palace last autumn was very delicious too. My favourite way of eating these runner beans is a stir fry, it brings out the runner bean’s fresh and crisp flavour. Why would you stew them? Isn’t it the same as making pig slop?”

“You’ll know it when you eat it.” Su Nuan Nuan smiled. This Salted Pork Rib with Potatoes and Runner Beans was a speciality of Northeastern China. In her past life, she went to a little county town at Wangfangdian because she heard that Fuzhou Bay was particularly famous for its seafood. It was there that she first tasted the Stewed Salted Pork Rib with Potatoes and Runner Beans.

The potatoes were stewed in a large wok until they’re soft and fluffy, the runner beans would be slightly tender and pulpy due to the long cooking process. When chewed, the soft runner beans retained a slight chewiness as well as a special fragrance. However, the most outstanding item within this dish had to be the Salted Pork Rib. When country folk slaughter a pig, the majority of its meat would have been carved off the rib bones and therefore mostly the salted ribs mostly meatless. Even so, Su Nuan Nuan could not help but kept gnawing on the bones. Today, when she saw the basket of plump and beautiful autumn runner beans, she wished to relieve that nostalgic taste again. Thus, without further ado, she cooked up a large pot of the stuff.

When they reached the dining hall, one dish caught Duan Tingxuan’s eye. It was served in a medium-size basin and placed right in the middle of the table, runner beans piled high on it. He smiled and said, “Excellent, since there’s such a lot we won’t need other side dishes.” With that, he picked up his chopsticks and began excavating through the mountain of runner beans. Suddenly, he exclaimed, “Yi? Why are these potatoes still whole? Why haven’t they been cut or sliced?”

“Aren’t you being rather ignorant? That’s how hotpot is eaten in the Northeast.” Su Nuan Nuan said as she raised her chopsticks and stabbed the unearth potato. She was just moving the speared potato her bowl when her husband called out in shock once more, “Even the pork ribs aren’t chopped up? Why are they in such long pieces? Wouldn’t it be unsightly to eat such long pieces of bones?”

Su Nuan Nuan sneered, “This is home-style cooking, who cares whether it’s unsightly or not? What’s the meaning of eating at home if we can’t properly enjoy food without worrying about appearance? If you are really worried about people watching you gnaw on bones, you can send the servants out to have their dinner early.”

Duan Tingxuan felt that this suggestion was sound and waved for the servants to leave. Hong Lian and the rest of the maids covered their mouths with their sleeves and quickly retreated. Once the last person had left, and the doors closed, the little marquis just about to breathe a sigh of relief, when his wife laughed out loud at his face-saving antics. Once she had enough of laughing, Su Nuan Nuan fished out a long piece of Salted Pork Rib and sent it with a satisfying clatter onto his plate with tsk of admiration. “Look at that, just look at that, can you see just how much meat is on that? There’s fatty meat and lean meat, this is the highest quality Salted Pork Rib, ah. Having such a large Salted Rib stewed with potatoes and runner beans is the best. Let me tell you, this is heavenly food, ah. Fatty but not greasy, savoury but not salty, it goes especially well with the soft potatoes and chewy runner beans. Eat, eat, but don’t burn yourself. I’ve also cooked up a pot of the best tribute rice we got as a gift from the imperial family.”

As she chattered on, one pork rib made it to her plate. To the little marquis, it was as though his wife had transformed into a tao tie, a ferocious green light seemed to flash from her eyes as she sank her teeth into the large piece of bone. Needless to say, there was not a chopstick in sight.

The sight was so barbaric and wild that the little marquis was too stunned to release the jokes on his lips. Instead, he fell in with her and picked up the large pork rib with his hands and took two bites out of the rib. He was still chewing when he slapped a hand onto the table and cried out, “No wonder you keep praising this dish. This stew is incredible, the flavour just melts in your mouth. While I can’t say that it’s better than pork belly cooked in Buddha Jumps over the Wall soup, it has a different sort of savouriness that’s incredibly fragrant and makes you want to eat more rice.”

As if to prove his point, he ate a large mouthful of rice and then stuffed a half a piece of potato into his mouth. His head never stopped bobbing in approval.

Husband wife said nothing as each focused on chomping on their pieces of pork rib. Once the bone was stripped bare, and their stomachs padded satisfactorily, both wiped their hands on damp towels prepared for that purpose. Su Nuan Nuan said seriously, “Concubine Jiang came by today and said several things to me. From what I can tell, she suspects Xu Ran Yun as the person behind the scene who caused Chuan’er’s suspicious stomachache and near death. Moreover, she also suspects Xue Zhi Lan as the person pulling strings in the shadows. However, this is all her speculation, there is no evidence at all, which is why she came to consult with me…”

Before she had finished speaking, Duan Tingxuan’s face had changed. He slapped his chopsticks onto the table with an audible [pa!] and said bitterly, “So, it really is Xu Ran Yun. To think that even Xue Zhi Lan is involved. Just what are these women thinking? Chuan’er is my son, how could they think of harming my child? Have their hearts been eaten by wolves? No, An Ping Estate cannot tolerate such vicious people in our estate.”

“So what if you can’t tolerate them? It’s all just Concubine Jiang’s speculation, do you have any evidence to back it up?” Su Nuan Nuan rolled her eyes. “Don’t be naïve, my lord. Without evidence or proof, can you send them back to their maternal family? Or do you want to put them under house arrest? Do you really think their maternal family will let you bully them as you like? I didn’t want you to tell you this at first because I know that it will bring you nothing but more worries.

However, whenever I thought of how vicious and merciless these women are, I have to take into consideration the trouble they are bound to make in the future. No matter how strong or tough I am, this is still a patriarchal society where men hold the real power. There’s also my previous bad record to take into consideration. You should know all this. The reason why I’m saying this to you now is for you to prepare yourself. The moment they make their move against me, you had better not call my counter-attacks vicious.”

 

Author White Pear Flower: Hahaha, when it comes to gourmet writing, how could I leave out my favourite Northeastern stewed dish, ah? While writing, I kept drooling you know? Hohoho!

 

[Gumihou: Haaa… here we go again…]

 

[1] Stewed Salted Pork Rib with Potatoes and Runner Beans, to be fair, I can only find recipes for Stewed Pork Rib with Potatoes and Runner Beans. I guess not many home cooks would salt pork ribs in jars for over two-three months.

 

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