Chapter 68 – Chilli Crab (b)
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Gumihou
Feng Luo suddenly appeared a little more alive.
However, this only sent him spinning further into conspiracy theories. He had picked up his chopsticks but the chopsticks never moved nearer to any food. Once Shiyu was done with her dinner, she put the uneaten food away.
She left Feng Luo staring at the table as she went outside to continue her Ginseng Fruit dissection. When evening drew nearer, she set out to buy some ingredients for the evening meal.
As a citizen of a port city, Feng Luo should prefer fresh seafood, right? Unfortunately, the Imperial Capital was an inland city, and though it was not impossible to get fresh seafood, it was mostly reserved for the very rich. Moreover, beyond mere money, you’d need to have special connections with certain suppliers to get your hands on real fresh seafood.
Shiyu had been shopping at the markets and buying fish from them for some time now, but all the fish she got her hands on were freshwater fishes.  Lately, Shiyu had been getting most of her fish free from the Star Washing Lake situated in front of the Imperial College. Today, San Pang was sent into the lake not to play bait for fish, but to collect clams.
The freshwater clams, also known as Littleneck Clams or Manila Clams grew in the mud in the shallow areas of the lake. They were some of the most common clams that one could find in lakes like these.
“Pick more, ah!” Shiyu got into her bully mode as she squatted under a willow tree, watching as clams flew out of the lake from time to time. She only came out from the shade to pick clams up and drop them into a basket before scuttling back under the shade of the willow tree.
About half an hour of this later, the basket was nicely weighted down with clams and she shouted at the lake, “Alright, alright, we have enough now. Time to go back.”
As soon as she said this, a little person leapt out. San Pang came screeching towards her, “F*ck! F*ck! Help!”
Shiyu narrowed her eyes and saw that San Pang’s little arm had been seized by a crab five times as big as him. The crab did not let go even when San Pang run to the shore and it clattered angrily behind him.
“The heck, what a huge crab!” Shiyu was dumbfounded by the size of the crustacean. It was bigger than her hand! It was bigger than both her hands together!
“Sister, the important thing here is getting me free, ah!” San Pang wailed.
Shiyu waved a stick over the huge crab’s other claw and letting it clamped onto that before smashing apart the one still clutching at San Pang. Despite the terrible attack, the wounds on his body recovered quickly. Soon, there was no evidence of any injuries on him at all.
After collecting a basket of clams and a bonus extra-large river crab, dinner for tonight was decided. Shiyu happily returned to the villa with her spoils. She placed the clams in some saltwater and left them to spit up their sand. She’d have to leave those there for at least a day or two, but the crab could be eaten right away tonight.
Since the crab was quite large, one was enough to make a whole dish for three people to share. Shiyu loved eating crab, but disliked the hassle of picking the meat out. However, with such a large crab, all the picking would be very minimal. Since it’s a river crab, let’s make Chilli Crab!
Lin Fan happened to be passing by when he saw this large fellow being scrubbed at the sink.  Shiyu had stabbed it in the abdomen killing it immediately and was now scrubbing the mud off its shell and joints with a stiff brush. He came over to look at this strange creature. “What’s this? Is it edible?”
By now, he was getting used to seeing Shiyu doing something odd in the kitchen. Every time he saw her handling some new ingredient, he knew that there will be something good to eat.
“Of course,” said Shiyu gave him a sympathetic look. She privately squeezed out a handful of tears for this pitiful child. Before this, he had been amazed by mere crayfish, she will probably blow his mind with crab.
“Is it good?” Lin Fan looked at the ugly insect-like creature doubtfully.
“You’ll know when I’m done,” she said airily. The crab had been washed, the top shell taken off, and gutted . She took out her knife and hacked it into several pieces. She also used the back of the knife to crack the tough claws. Normally, this is done in the modern world so that diners could easily crack open the claws to suck out the meat later. It was not really needed when her diners were people with super-strength, but since cracking the shells would also help infuse the chilli sauce into the crab, she did it anyway.
Plus, Feng Luo’s Dantian had been sealed, so this will reduce any awkward situation.
Including the claws, which was broken into two or three pieces each, Shiyu ended up with over 20 pieces of crab. She set it aside to drain while she prepared other ingredients. She went to her vegetable garden and harvested some fresh vegetables. Now that she has to make food four people plus one Radish Demon, she would have to prepare more dishes.
The three vegetarian dishes were done very quickly, and Shiyu could finally focus on her Chilli Crab.
First, she dusted the crab thickly in corn starch, before shaking the excess off and frying it over very hot oil. When the crab shell turned red, she let it sit a little longer in the hot oil to further crisp up the shell before scooping it out and setting it aside to drain. By frying the crab in very hot oil, thinner bits of the shell such as the skinny legs and the white shell around the body could be eaten like chips. Of course, if you have very strong teeth, even the claws could be eaten, not that Shiyu was planning to eat the claws… 
Once all the crab was fried, she set it aside to drain off excess oil. She removed most of the oil from the wok, leaving only a little to stir-fry some aromatics.  There were the usual suspects, finely minced scallions, ginger, garlic and onions. These were fried until fragrant before a generous dollop of chilli paste was added. The sudden explosion of spices caused somebody in the house to violently sneeze. Heheh. She let the chilli paste bubble within the wok before adding a ladleful of water, followed by a splash of cooking wine as well as a bit of salt and sugar to taste.
When the sauce had settled into a fairly stable bubbling, she threw in the fried crabs and tossed it quickly. All she had to do now was make sure the crabs were properly coated with the sauce before plating Chilli Crabs on a large dish. By now, the entire house and garden were permeated by the spicy smell of chilli. Lin Fan and Old Gu were already lurking in the living room, after checking to make sure that the rice was cooked and the table had been properly set up.  There’s no need to bother the cook with trivial things like putting out plates and chopsticks on the table.
Upstairs, the scent of spices was even stronger. Feng Luo’s stomach groaned a few times, unable to resist the call of food.
It had been a long time since his last proper meal, being too worried about his family to eat. It was only after Shiyu’s information earlier that he was able to see some hope for his family and was therefore tentatively positive about his family’s situation. He came downstairs to see four dishes served on the bamboo table, the most eye-catching one being the large dish of something that shone like red jewels under the light. Steam floated gently off the ruby surface. It was the source of the spicy smell that had been teasing him just now.
“Feng Luo, come and eat!” Lin Fan had already portioned out the rice for everyone and was handing out a pair of chopsticks to him.
Feng Luo sat down, his eyes on the curious item Shiyu had introduced as Chilli Crabs. He picked up a piece and brought it to his lips. The shape was very uneven, and he was sure he had gotten the leg of a hard shell animal of some sort. The smell made his mouth water and he touched his tongue to the red sauce. Spices bloomed within his mouth and he quickly took a bite. The shell shattered easily under his teeth, revealing soft flesh underneath and the fragrance reminded him of the taste of the sea. A second bite, and this time the flesh was so juicy that he had to suck the meat out to not let crab juice drip all over himself.
It was a very inelegant, yet fun dish to eat.
“It’s very fresh!” declared Feng Luo after finishing his first Chilli Crab.
“It’s freshly caught from the lake just now, so of course it’s fresh,” said Shiyu. Then, she said, “Hey, you live next to the sea, right? Have you really never eaten crabs?”
“We mostly ate fish and a Spiritual Sea Beasts, or seaweed. Things like crabs are usually fed to the birds,” said Feng Luo as he reached for another piece of crab.
The charm of spicy food is how it stimulates the appetite and cause people to eat more. As the more exotic food among the vegetarian dishes, the Chilli Crab was naturally more popular. When they reached the end of the meal, the whole plate of Chilli Crab was wiped out, every last drop of sauce was gone and the plate looked very clean.
Feng Luo had four bowls of rice thanks to these dishes.
After the table was cleared away, Old Gu served up some good tea, and they all settled down at the living room with a cup of tea to digest their meals, feeling very satisfied with the world.
“Are you feeling better now?” Shiyu asked Feng Luo.
Feng Luo’s smile was very free, “Yes, I feel much better. Thank you for reminding me of some things I’ve overlooked. I will be going out later, I’m letting you know now so that you won’t worry later.”
“En? Where are you going?” now that his Dantian had been sealed, wouldn’t he be bullied if he goes out? Oh, right, there are still the five hidden guards around him, according to Old Gu.
“See Meng Li, ah! She must be worried sick over what is happening with the family. I must bring some gift for her, as an apology for behaving so coldly with her at Xiaoxiao’s birthday banquet. What apology gift do you think is appropriate?”
[Gumihou: … Feng Luo…]
 Added Detail for Supportive Information: Shiyu bought fish for her special knife blade menus, so she should have some idea how easy or difficult it is to get seafood.
 Added Detail for Supportive Information: Shiyu doesn’t seem to know how to clean/kill crab since she cracked it apart first before gutting it. No, no, you take off the largest piece of shell first and scrape out the guts, not the other way round. Gumihou will supplement some details for her lovely readers.
 Changed Detail for Correctness: When it comes to making crab dishes, there are some cardinal rules. NEVER overcook your crab. If you pre-cook your crab, either by steaming or frying and make the sauce on the side, the crab goes in last. After you have adjusted the sauce.
Shiyu combined two techniques in her crab cooking. Unfortunately, it was a combination of a few cobbled together steps that made no sense. Here’s the excerpt as per the text:
“Next, stir-fry some aromatics, add chili to the oil, then place the red crab pieces in and stir-fry, add salt to taste and sake to remove the smell. Pour a little water at the end, and after boiling, lower the heat to reduce the sauce.”
This is correct, if you cook the crab from a raw state, maybe.
However, Shiyu has already deep-fried the crab, so there’s no need to ‘remove the smell’. Also, you should maintain high heat through the entire cooking process. Finally, there’s no need to ‘reduce the sauce’. More importantly, your crab can only be in the fire for 3 minutes. Maximum.
Also, according to the text, when Feng Luo bites into the crab it made ‘crunching sounds’… I have no idea what kind of witchery is required to keep fried food crunchy after you’ve left it in the sauce long enough to ‘reduce’ it.
Unless you reduce your crab-in-sauce time from 3 minutes to 30 seconds.
 Added Detail for Texture: It is unknown who sets the table, but I expect people who are eager to eat would have helped with everything they could so that food would be ready sooner rather than later.
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