Little Cooking Saint – 0061 – Peacock Spreads Its Tail (b)

Little Cooking Saint – 0061 – Peacock Spreads Its Tail (b)

Chapter 61 – Peacock Spreads Its Tail – A Fish Dish (b)

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Gumihou

 

After knowing that the Fat Cat was possibly a thousand-year-old monster beast whatever thing, Shiyu could not help but be even more wary and deferential. She was already treating the cat like a divine being that she must appease to fend off bad luck, but now… anyway, Fat Cat eventually found out that San Pang was the reason behind Shiyu’s fervent staring, and knew who was to be blamed.

Slash, slash! [1]

The main culprit, San Pang, was granted the opportunity to personally experience Fat Cat’s special slashing technique.

Anyway, the fifth dish on the recipe book was something called Peacock Spreads Its Tail. However, contrary to its name, no peacocks were harmed in the preparation of this dish. [2] A whole fish was first scaled and gutted. Its head and tail taken off. Then the body is sliced into finger-width slices from collar bone to tail so that the rib and backbones are disconnected, but the fish is attached together by the belly flesh and skin.

Shiyu could see why this dish was chosen to test a chef’s knife skills. If the slices were not even, the final presentation would be very ugly. If her knife was not sharp enough or if she exerted her strength wrongly, one side of the fish would be squashed. It was definitely worthy of being the 5th dish in a menu that tested a chef’s knife skill [3].

Therefore, aside from good knife skill, choosing the type of fish for this dish was also crucial. [3] A flatter fish would minimise the bruising of flesh when cut. A fish that’s wider on the side would also show up better in a dish, displaying the ‘Peacock’s Tail’ better. Therefore, Shiyu chose to use Seabream for this dish. A fairly flat fish with a body that’s more ‘tall’ than it is wide.

Shiyu had always liked Seabream anyway, but as usual, wild-caught ones were pretty expensive in the modern times. [3] The Japanese, for example, loved Seabreams very much, especially the red ones, which was thought to be auspicious.

The Seabream was duly scaled, gutted and cleaned. Shiyu then proceeded to take the head and tail off, saving it for the final presentations. The flesh and bone were easily sliced through with Supreme Indifferent, so there’s no need to worry about bruising the flesh. She just had to be careful not to disconnect the fish and to make the cuts very, very even.

Once cut, the fish was salted and left to marinate with finely sliced leek and ginger for half an hour. When the half-hour was up, Shiyu shook off the leek and ginger off the fish and fan out the flesh on the plate like peacock’s tail. The head and tail were arranged at the section where the flesh ended in the most aesthetically pleasing way. She cut the rest of the leek into circles and arranged it on the spread-out flesh like the eye of a peacock’s feather. Pretty much anything could be used for this actually, since it’s mostly decorative.

She had set the water boiling in the steamer. Once the water was at a roiling boil, she placed the fish into the steamer and began to make Chilli Oil [5]. She threw some cut chillies into cold oil and slowly heat it up, making sure not to scorch the peppers as she infused the oil with its spicy flavour. Smoke began wafting up from the wok and she sneezed.

When the oil was mostly done, the timer for the fish went off. Shiyu took out the dish and pour the hot oil over the fish, causing it to sizzle, before serving it.

Speaking of which, this was Shiyu’s first steamed dish since coming into this world, not counting the steamed buns which she and the other beggars had made and sold back at Qing Shan City. She really couldn’t wait to taste the fruit of her labours.

The fish looked white and tender, the green onions and garlic, as well as the bright red chilli oil made the jade white flesh stand out even more. Shiyu eagerly picked up a piece of the jade white meat and placed it in her mouth.

Then, spat it out.

Ugh… what is this fishiness? She couldn’t quite believe that she had reached a new low in her craftsmanship.

No wonder the Fat Cat did not even bother to come over for a sniff.

Frustrated, Shiyu glared angrily at the beautifully presented dish. After half a year’s worth of training, she should have improved a lot. After seeing so many people lined up to eat her food, she had gotten a little big-headed, but the taste of utter failure lingering in her mouth was like having a pot of cold water poured over her head [5].

So she had made a few good dishes, however, it did not mean that she has mastered them all. The road to becoming a proper chef might be longer than she thought.

This was not the time to be complacent, ah!

With a sigh, Shiyu poured the Peacock Spread Its Tail into an area she had made for composting fish scale and bones. Good-bye, I’m so sorry, please be good fertilizer for my plants.

Then, with a heavy heart and private tears for a wasted fish, she made four portions of Sashimi, a Squirrel Fish, some Grilled Spicy Wings and Grilled Matsutake for lunch. Her companions all have great appetites, but they’d been spoilt by her cooking and would demand lots of side dishes.

Thanks to her failure just now, Shiyu decided to take a break and think her way through her problem instead. There’s really no need to rush the next dish and waste ingredients. She needed to think the cooking steps through and properly conceptualise the dish. [5]

She got onto the roof to lie down and contemplate life while watching the clouds drift lazily above her. Below her were layers of ivy leaves that rustled excitedly to each other at each gust of wind. From time to time, the breeze would lift a lock of hair off her cheek and play with it like a naughty child.

The sunlight made her drowsy. The next time she blinked her eyes opened, the blue sky with its cotton-like clouds had been replaced by a starlit night.

During the course of the day, an errant wind must have blown the clouds away. There was no moon, and the night sky looked very near. So near that she might have reached out a hand and pluck a star from the sky.

While she was staring, mesmerized by this sight, a sudden question flashed through her head.

In her past life, the stars in the sky were the planets, the Milky Way and other things that had been discovered by telescopes and reasoned out by science. In this time and space, they were in the Ninth Realm, and the sky should be different as well [6]. Being so far below from the heavens, she should not be able to see so many tiny pinpricks of light in the Ninth Realm sky.

She said out loud, “What are those stars in the sky?”

An unexpected, yet somehow expected, [7] voice said, “That’s a Magic Weapon. Only those residing in the First Realm could see the true sky. We of the Ninth Realm could only see other realms as stars from here. A thousand years ago the human race lived in great prosperity and power at the Realm of Heaven. Below the humans were seven different races, all occupying a different level of the world.

One day, the Seven Races joined hands and rebelled against the Realm of Heaven. The Human Race was taken by surprised and were badly wounded. The blood of many strong men and women were scattered across the heavens. Seeing how their protectors have fallen, the remaining leaders of the Human Race gathered up every last member of the humans they could find and raced down to the most barren land in all Nine Realms. The Ninth Realm [8].

When the Human Race landed on this realm, they were naturally frustrated about being chased out of their homes. However, they were also afraid that the other races would come and destroy them. However, because The Law of Suppression [9] dictates that all Cultivators, regardless of their races and strength, would have their Cultivation level pressed down to Great Perfection Level, Core Condensation Stage, not many actually dared to come after us. It is because of this suppression that humans are able to escape absolute annihilation.

However, the Ninth Realm proved to be a double-edged sword. Tough it protected us from the powerful beings, the thin Spiritual Energy of this world meant that many people aged too fast, until even the most powerful of us succumbed to old age and died. Before his death, Zhou Nine [10], in his bitterness and pain threw his Magic Weapon in the air, and that was when the starry night sky appeared.”

Fat Cat’s voice was flat and emotionless as he spoke. Even so, Shiyu could feel the hairs on the back of her neck raise as she contemplated the cruel fate of the original Human Races.

“Back then, there were six prominent families in the Human Race. They are the Wen, Gu, Ye, Zhou, Li and Shen. The head of these six families faced off against the enemy and bought time for the rest of the humans to evacuate. In the end, all six died at Heaven’s Realm. It is my life’s wish to return to the Heaven Realm, collect their remains and give them a proper burial.”

When Shiyu heard this, she felt her eyes started to ‘sweat’. 

“You really are an old monster,” she sniffed loudly and said. “Surely Heaven Realm has to be better than the Ninth Realm! Can you go there alone?”

“My Immortal House is hidden within your Dantian. I cannot be separated from my Immortal House. At least, not until you’re stronger.”

“How much stronger?”

“The Art of Cooking is not just about the selection of ingredients and use of spices. It also involves killing. For example, all the knife skills you’ve been learning. Once your skill reached its peak, whoever stands before you would be left with nothing but bones. Aside from your blades, you have your fire too. The most powerful fire could render a man to cinders in an instant. Once you’ve mastered these two basic skills to its peak, they will serve just as well as those high-level martial arts.”

Suddenly, Fat Cat sat up, “Try controlling two fires at the same time. Practice this skill more and you will receive an unexpected surprise in the end.” [11]

“What surprise?” asked Shiyu.

“It won’t be a surprise anymore if I told you now, would it? Well? Work hard!”

“Yes, I will,” though Shiyu’s original purpose was to become stronger for her own sake, it was hard for her to ignore the responsibility burning in her heart after listening to Fat Cat’s words.

A thousand years ago, their ancestors were driven out of their homes in the most shameful manner. As descendants, they should look forward to the future and race skyward to re-capture their former homes!

The Spiritual Energy at the First Realm has more Spiritual Energy than the Ninth Realm. Perhaps if she brought Grandpa and her brothers and sisters there, would they live a much longer life?

 

[Gumihou: Uh, as someone who studies how sales tactic works, Fat Cat is using the sympathy card on you girl…]

 

[1] Structural Change for Dramatic Purpose: Instead of ‘the cat paw’s scratching’ opted to go with ‘slash, slash’

 

[2] Slight word change for logistic and comedic purposes: The full name of this dish is Peacock Spreads Its Tail Fish, which sounds kind of awkward. Instead of fixing the name or finding a more correct but boring sounding name, I’ll just make a ‘no peacocks were harmed’ joke.

 

[3] Added More Detail to Establish a Character: Shiyu is a chef. Not a good home cook or even a random noodle vendor, but an actual chef in a Michelin Star restaurant, and her knowledge should reflect this.

 

[4] Added More Detail for Recipe: Again, the details were very, very limited. Cut fish, marinate with salt for half an hour. Steam. Errr, the fish would probably look nice, but will smell fishy and probably won’t taste nice…unless she circumvents the problem with chilli oil. Which is brilliant actually. But, it seems that the fishiness is still there… I’ve just deleted my edit for ‘correct’ cooking. Please follow the link for the proper recipe and not make stinky fish like a certain someone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9LCZB2K6Cc

Please follow this lady’s recipe. It looks straightforward and makes sense.

 

[5] Rant: Okay, this is weird to me. Isn’t your book a recipe book? Why don’t you follow the recipe? Huh? Why don’t just follow the recipe?

The link below features a way to ‘remove fishy smell from steamed fish’ and features tilapia, which could smell like mud because they will eat mud if there is nothing else to eat. Normally, I just eat tilapia fried to reduce potential angst.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_Sb0Bl3OoY

 

[6] … I think the author doesn’t know much about stars and planets either. Instead of going down a rabbit hole of research, I’ll just… patch it, with Norse Mythology.

 

[7] Change Detail Because Logistics: She had been mesmerized by the sky and was mulling about life when she asked the Cat a question. Because she spared a time to look at the cat when the readers weren’t looking. Right. Haha, no. Patch.

 

[8] Ninth Heaven, Ninth Realm: You know what, I’mma just gonna treat this like Norse Mythology-ish, because that makes more sense to me. I’m imagining a world tree now and Asgard (Heaven) is at the top, closest to the stars, with Ninth Realm (Midgaard) hanging around near the roots and not getting enough starlight or whatever. Lalalala

Henceforth Ninth Heaven (makes no sense) will be Ninth Realm (because there are nice places with powerful beings and sad places where humans can’t grow their strength much).

Ninth Heaven was the original translator’s translation anyway, and I have very little confidence in her skills.

 

[9] The Law of Suppression – written as 大道規則壓製 – The direct translation is The Way of the Law of Suppression, which rolls off the tongue so well… Not! So. The Law of Suppression. We’re sticking to The Law of Suppression, damnit!

 

[10] Zhou Nine or 九州 – who threw the weapon into the Ninth Realm’s sky did not share a surname with the 6 major families. The Zhou who died at Heaven’s Realm is 周, the Zhou who died in despair at the Ninth Realm is 州.

If the families proved to be important in the future, I shall put up a table for everyone’s reference~

 

[11] Plot Fixing Details: With reference to Chapter 56, Note 4: ‘Using one mind to control two cooking fires was very exhausting’ after which she spent a long time meditating and recovering at class. I deleted this because it served no purpose aside from causing exhaustion. Gumihou maintains that Shiyu has no real need to do this, especially not when she had just served lots of Squirrel Fish to customers the night before and only added one Bamboo Chicken to her cooking. Don’t tell me as a chef she can’t man more than one cook fires?

It still serves no purpose because Fat Cat can just give Shiyu a mysterious instruction and she will obey anyway. Which is what I had Fat Cat do. So, the plot has been patched over. Hurrah

 

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