Chapter 53 Cloud Thread Soup (b)
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Gumihou
The tofu was very well made.
Tender and smooth, with the warm scent of soybeans wafting to her nose. Shiyu breathed in deeply, focused her attention, and began slicing into the tofu.
She was going fairly slowly. First, she finely sliced the tofu until the slices spread out like floppy playing cards. Then, she began cutting the slices edgewise, turning the tofu into something that looked like a pile of white gloopy  paste.
“Are you grinding the tofu back to soy milk?” Gan Ping asked, looking curiously at the formless gloop.
Shiyu said nothing, but her hands never stopped moving until only a finger’s width worth of tofu remained safe from being turned into gloop.
“Please bring me a bowl of clean water,” she said politely to Gan Ping.
A bowl of water was brought over and Shiyu scooped up the white gloop up with her knife and gently placed it into the water before gently agitating the surface of the water with her fingers . The ugly, shapeless blob suddenly bloomed like a chrysanthemum flower. Even the onlookers at the shop counter could see strands of tofu that so fine that it could probably be threaded through the eye of a needle.
Gan Ping’s eyes nearly fell out of his head, “How can this be!” he immediately cleaned his knife and cutting board, eager to try out this new cutting technique.
The people staring at their antics were shocked too. Suddenly, the next-door shop was crowded with people trying to buy one uncooked piece of tofu to try out this technique for themselves. At first, the vendor was very happy to see the crowd, but when all they wanted to buy was a single piece of tofu, his face twisted, “Why on earth do you want raw tofu for?”
“To shred,” came the mysterious reply.
“To shred?” the boss was curious now. However, business was business. Since the supply was scarce, he managed to sell his raw tofu for a pretty good price .
He was the only happy person that day though. Students who had bought tofu from him immediately took out their bladed weapons and attempted the Tofu Shredding Technique. Unfortunately, the exercise resulted in nothing but unsightly gloop or badly chopped tofu. Most of the students sighed and decided to give up.
Meanwhile, some students sighed and muttered, “Looks like our Cultivation is just too low. Otherwise, how is it that we can’t even properly cut something like tofu?
From that day onwards, it became a tradition for blade users of the Imperial College to test their skills through the Shredded Tofu Challenge. This technique would later be incorporated into the school curriculum and became one of the required studies for anyone who wants to work with blades of any kind.
Shiyu was not really satisfied with her shredded tofu as there were many broken strands [2.5]. However, she was sure that she could overcome this problem after a few more practices.
As she was pondering over this, she took out a wok from the back kitchen, preparing to cook something. When she was halfway through, Gan Ping said, “I heard that you made some very fragrant dish at the bamboo forest yesterday. What kind of dish was it?”
“It’s Bamboo Chicken,” said Shiyu honestly enough. “It a bit troublesome to make, so I’ll only make it for ourselves to eat. It’s not a very good dish to mass-produce.”
“Does knife skills come to it?” Gan Ping was clearly more interested in this bit. After having Shiyu here, he had already discovered two new ways of using his knife.
“Yes, ah. It’s called deboning. The goal is to debone a whole chicken without damaging the skin. It’s completely different from the regular movement of slicing or cutting.”
As the two spoke, Shiyu had already taken out a whole dressed chicken.  It was quickly deboned and stuffed with similar medicinal herbs as yesterday. The main difference was that the ages of the herbs were counted in decades instead of centuries. Also, she used regular well water instead of Spring of Life water.
As for the cooking fire, she chose to place the tube of bamboo upright on the wok and wrap her blue Spiritual Fire around the bamboo tube in a steady flame and controlled the heating around and through the chicken from within. This way of cooking meant the Bamboo Chicken was done in 15 minutes instead of 1 or 2 hours, and there was barely any scorching on the bamboo. Once done, Shiyu poured the liquid out of the tube into a soup cup and screwed the cap on before waving a hand over the Bamboo Chicken, indicating that Gan Ping could have the rest of it.
“I’m going for my classes now,” said Shiyu.
Gan Ping absently answered her, his attention mostly on the bamboo tube now.  He shook out the content into a large bowl and the whole boneless chicken slid out easily with the rest of the broth. It shone like yellow gold and made his mouth water. The broth sparkling like liquid crystals around it. It was all very shiny. Carefully, he used his chopsticks to tease out a piece of the tender chicken wing and brought the plump, golden morsel, still dripping with the strong scent of medicinal herbs to his mouth.
When he bit down, the flavours of herbs and medicinal items gushed in his mouth and warmed his body from head to toes. He shivered. A tear appeared at the corner of his eye. He felt very spoilt at that moment. A brief flash of worry that his taste buds would never be able to climb out of this pit of ecstasy crossed his mind but-
“This is too delicious,” he cried, tears of joy running down his cheeks as he tried to slowly savour the best chicken he had ever tasted in his life
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Shiyu entered the classroom amidst a chorus of warm greetings.
It certainly pays to be in a position to grant privileges to others. Some took the opportunity to ask about the incident at the bamboo forest, others asked just what it was she had made that was so fragrant. Shiyu managed to dodge all these questions and was making her way to her seat when someone else planted themselves in her path.
It was Liu Eleven.
Liu Eleven frowned down at her and asked, “Just what did my great-grandfather say to you yesterday?”
So this Liu is related to that Liu?
Shiyu studied his handsome, slightly immature face for a little while before saying, “You should just ask your great-grandfather.” When it looked like he was about to question her more, she said, “It’s not like I want to say anything, but having your grandfather say that he wants me as a disciple is kind of embarrassing.”
Liu Eleven’s eyes widened, “Impossible!”
“Believe it or not, that’s up to you.”
After leaving Liu Eleven to stand there gaping at nothing, Shiyu finally made it to her seat. Wen Xiang was already there and meditating in earnest. When Shiyu got into her chair with a scrape and a clatter, he opened his eyes.
“Oh, you’re awake. Here, Uncle Gan told me to bring this to you.” She placed the soup container in front of him. “Go on, you should drink it while it’s still warm.”
Wen Xian smiled, “Thank you very much.”
“Haih, don’t thank me. This soup comes with a message. Uncle Gan said that whenever you’re free, you should help him out during the afternoons. He said he’ll pay you 50 CP per hour. That’s not a bad deal, isn’t it? You can spend them on some Magic Pills at the Treasure Pavilion later.”
Wen Xian said nothing as he slowly sipped the broth. His eyes cast down. At first, Shiyu thought he would refuse, but then he said, “Sounds good, ah.” His voice was a little scratchy.
Shiyu felt something in her chest loosened. For some reason, seeing Wen Xian’s slightly crouched posture reminded her of Lao Er. How are those people back home? The kind Grandpa and those enterprising little kids?
An unexpected wave of homesickness hit Shiyu.
They spent the rest of the morning on lessons and meditations. That was when Shiyu finally understood why people say that the 10 levels of Core Transformation Stage are difficult to achieve. She had been meditating for half a day, but barely felt a drop of improvement.
Back at the Villa, she brought up the subject with Fat Cat who said, “Your Blue Spiritual Fire is too weak. There’s no need for you to seek too many ways to Cultivate. Just focus on fire.”
At this, Shiyu faced her list of recipes with renewed determination.
She flipped through the book. The third recipe could be mastered as long as she continued to practice her skills. As for the fourth dish… at the name of the dish, a little thrill went through Shiyu again. This was something she had always enjoyed even in her past life. However, she rarely gets to eat it since it was so expensive. As a lower-middle-class citizen, it was only something she could eat on very special occasions.
After sharpening her knife, she practised making the Cloud Thread Soup all day. The dish was simple enough that she could do it at the loft. She could use her own Spiritual Energy as heat source after all. All her ‘failed experiments’ were happily eaten up by San Pang and the Cloud Beast . About two days later, she reached the level of perfection that satisfied His Highness, the Fat Cat’s palate.
 Freed from immediate slavery, Shiyu went for a stroll outside. She visited the fish supplier and got more of her stock fish from them. Space rings were so convenient for transporting  huge earthenware jars of live fish. She was in the middle of tipping her jars of fish into the pond when Lin Fan came striding down the garden path, “It’s Elder Martial Sister Xue’s birthday banquet tonight. It’s almost time to go.”
Shiyu eyed Lin Fan’s outfit. It was his regular black outfit. So, it either he did not think this Sister Xue is worth dressing up for, or he was just being a typical ignorant male. Eh, it didn’t matter either way. Since Lin Fan did not dress up, Shiyu took her cue from him and picked out a light green Upper Chest Ru Qun after a quick bath. She did her hair up in a simple bun and left the Villa with Lin Fan.
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 Xue Qingge’s birthday banquet was being held at the Xue Family Courtyard.
As the pride of the Xue Family, Xue Qingge’s birthday banquet was very well attended. Shiyu looked around the private courtyard curiously at its antique Chinese style building and gardens with interest. It was very lovely and private. In the future, she would arrange for Grandpa and the kids to live somewhere like this.
There were enough people in the courtyard to make a crowd, but Lin Fan was well known enough that people made way for him automatically. As his plus one, Shiyu also escaped the party crush. It was even better when a servant came out to say, “Our young miss says that when Noble Child Lin arrives, I should escort him to see her immediately.”
Lin Fan showed an appreciative smile at Xue Qingge’s special arrangement.
They followed the maid down a short corridor and through the house. The house was not very big, but the various screen doors and twisty pathways with lots of interesting scenery gave the impression that the courtyard was bigger than it really was. Eventually, the maid led them around a set of screen doors and towards a garden pavilion, whereupon Xue Qingge was seated like a queen as the main protagonist of her birthday event. Her makeup was done very delicately, emphasising her beauty and grace. Her shining presence was the focus of everyone’s attention.
Around her stood the people who were clearly close friends and followers. All of them wearing smiles and flattery hovering around their lips.
Xue Qingge paused in her act of listening to one of her friends when her eyes swept over to the where Lin Fan stood. A smile flashed across her face and she said, “So, you’re finally here.” She then turned to her friends, “You’ve all been wanting to meet this mysterious Lin Fan for a while now. Well, there he is,”
Those who had not met Lin Fan would have heard of him. Some were curious, others were disdainful. It was all pretty much the same, actually.
Suddenly, a girl tugged at Xue Qingge’s arm flashed a look at Shiyu. She pinched her nose and said with revulsion, “Ugh, who’s that? Why is there such a stench of fish? How unpleasant!”
[Gumihou: … uh, girl? You wanna die?]
 Adjustment for fact: Okay, the original described the cut tofu as ‘cloud-like’ which… uh, no. Unless your cloud looks like it was drawn by kids with bad crayons. It looks like white gloop, seriously. Especially from a distance, mostly because tofu is not cotton candy.
 Wrong Technique Alert! : Originally, ‘she stirred it with her fingers’, don’t do that unless you want to break the tofu strands. [2.5] I told you so, just shake the bowl or agitate the water surface.
 Added more details: Added detail re neighbouring vendor’s business sense. Come on, even if characters are only there for a few lines, at least give them some defining characteristics.
 Added more details: ‘Shiyu… re-demonstrated the process of making bamboo chicken yesterday.’ I’d probably be fine with this statement if the chicken demonstration yesterday was not full of holes? Also, did you use the Immortal Lotus? I suspect that’s the thing that made your soup warm instead of piping hot? Or maybe it’s the Spring of Life water? Shiyu did jump into the pond after swallowing the Fire Seed last time.
All fantastical aspect aside, what kind of fire did you use? Stove fire? Did you use a rig over the fire? Or did you use the steaming method? Did you hold the tube and wrap your blue fire around it?
Gumihou has so, so many questions for what’s basically one and a half paragraph of information. Did author-san just not care!!!?? Should Gumihou write it for you?
Gumihou wrote it for you.
 Details for Logistical Purpose: After Gan Ping waved Shiyu off, he grabbed a chicken wing… through the bamboo tube!!?? It’s in a bloody tube! How?! Haiiiissss, Gumihou supplied the bowl, obviously.
 Additional details: Author-san didn’t say where all the failed things went. So, I let San Pang and Cloud Beast eat them. Especially since they’re at the loft where those two had watched while Shiyu tried to breakthrough. I’m more than happy to let Cloud Beast make his cameo appearance.
 Details for Transitional Purposes: It went from, ‘Yay! Fat Cat happy!’ to Shiyu putting fish in pond and Lin Fan going ‘Let’s go to Sister Xue’s b-day.’
Also, how did Shiyu transport her fish all this while? Gumihou is curious. Nevermind, Gumihou already supplied the patch.
 Straightened Out Ambiguous Details: Gumihou found out at the next chapter that the party was not at one of the private courtyards at the College but an actual estate outside the school. Here’s a line to make it clear.
Bamboo Chicken – I found it! A bamboo chicken recipe where the whole chicken is stuffed into a bamboo tube! With bones too! Apparently, it’s a type of year-old bamboo found in China. Author-san, give us details like this!
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