Chapter 74 Stir-fried Clams (e)
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Gumihou
For some reason, Shiyu’s knife work for the next few days saw unprecedented improvement.  It was unclear whether the pressure of having to fight someone soon, or the idea that she has a real master to back her up, was giving her the motivation to keep practising. However, the very act of non-stop training, day in, day out, with barely any rest made it very hard for her not to improve.
Unfortunately, this meant that the people living at the Villa had to go without her delicious cooking for the next few days. Life felt very bitter for these unfortunate souls.
Finally, on this day, Shiyu lowered Supreme Indifferent and flexed her tired shoulders. She could now dissect the Ginseng Fruit down to its individual component parts with just one swing of her knife. Shiyu twisted her neck and felt the joints there popped worryingly, but she was very satisfied with the result of her hard work.
Please, she put her knife away and skipped off to the kitchen. It’s time to take a break, what better way than to cook something good?
She tried making another Peacock Fish again for their lunch.  This time the dish turned out edible at least. She had no idea whether it was because she rarely made steamed food that caused her to do so badly with this particular dish. Nevertheless, it would appear that she did not have much luck with steamed food. Even her steamed cake had cracked when she attempted it the first time. When it came to frying or stir-frying, she could usually make something that was fairly good, if not excellent.
However, there was no point blundering about blindly. After her competition against Mo Yin, she’ll try and consult the Old Master. It was a pity that the Master who left her all the good things was not around, he’d probably be able to pinpoint her mistake right away.
At the unexpected thought of her Master, Shiyu shook her head and secretly smiled to herself. Now and then, thoughts of her mysterious master would pop into her head, like right now as she was stirring her hand through the clams they had been keeping in the basin. For some reason, perhaps due to San Pang’s diligent care, only one or two clams have died during the time she had spent in hiatus from the kitchen. After tossing the two dead clams into a bucket to be composted later, Shiyu rinsed the remaining clams in clean water and prepared to stir-fry them.
River clams could be considered as seafood. However, the one drawback about pond or river creatures was that they tended to have a slightly fishy or muddy smell. It was up to the chef to reduce these shortcomings and enhance the strengths of the ingredients they cook with.
One way to remove or conceal unwanted smells was to use plenty of garlic and ginger, aromatics that could also enhance the taste and increases the appetite of the diner. Naturally, Stir-fried Clams were a great way of cooking clams, but what Shiyu liked even better was Clam Soup. With Clam Soup on the table, she could chow down several bowls of rice with it.
Aside from aromatics, wine was also indispensable when it came to making Stir-fried Clams.  The wok was set fairly hot when Shiyu started frying up the aromatics, minced ginger, garlic and some scallions to start with. When everything began to smell good, she tossed in the live clams. She gave a wok a couple of good toss before pouring in a generous cup of sweet rice wine. By now the clams were starting to pop open. Like crabs, it was never a good idea to overcook clams if possible. A few stir of the spatula later, more clams opened up and she tossed in some green spring onions for colour. The whole house smells incredible now.  Finally, a quick pinch of salt and a final stir later, she plated up the Stir-fried Clams. When she turned around to place it on the table, she saw that Lin Fan and Feng Luo were already waiting at the table with rice, chopsticks and bowls all set out. When Shiyu placed the plate of clams on the table, they picked up their bowls expectantly, but were still self-conscious enough not to start eating just yet.
Shiyu scowled at the two pairs of pleading eyes. “Are you really going to eat a meal with just one dish?” The chef in her protested, at least have a vegetable and a soup dish too, ah!
“But we can’t wait to taste it, it smells so beautiful,”
They were especially desperate to taste Shiyu’s cooking after having to eat their own handiwork, or eat out at the café. The contrast was just too great, they really missed eating her odd but delicious creations.
“Fine, fine,” Shiyu rolled her eyes at them and waved for them to get on with it while she prepared other dishes.
She had to admit, the plate of Stir-fried Clams looked really attractive. All the little clams have opened up, revealing their tender insides. The broth was a clear attractive tan that made people gulped at the chance to taste it. The green spring onions shone like jewels against a tan, dark and white background, making an already attractive scene looked even more delicious.
Lin Fan scooped up a clam with a spoon for a closer look. The popped opened shell offered up its heart like a treasure, glistening with a little broth. He tried the soup first. Sipping it carefully by tipping it to his mouth with his spoon.  The sweet taste of the broth was like tasting a teaspoon of warm, aromatic wine. The sweet taste changed when he bit into the plump flesh, the umami of the sea enveloped his senses and he felt like he could chew on this little taste of the sea forever. Except that it was gone in just a couple of bites since it was so small. Unable to bear losing this taste, he seized onto the next clam and chased after this umami explosion again, and again.
Again and again, he seized the little shells, sucking the flesh into his mouth and stuffing it full of rice when the savouriness made it feel like his tongue was about to melt into his belly.
When Shiyu came back with a plate of Shredded Pork Roll, half of the plate was empty. If the two young men had not been too embarrassed about keeping their dignity, the whole plate would have been empty. However, the evidence of their indulgence was apparent from the little pile of shells by their plates and their flushed cheeks.
Both young men were already attractive specimens of the male species.  However, the addition of the wine flushed cheeks. The slightly desperate misty eyes of yearning, as they try not to steal secret stares at the plate of full of plump little morsels was beyond words. Shiyu felt like a third party staring at a couple of guys trying to drunk woo the same girl. She might be a little jealous of the Stir-fried Clams.
She shook her head.  These two boys, she thought affectionately. Just which lucky girl would get their claws on one of these babies I’m raising, ah?
After setting down the second and third dish, one of them being the now edible Peacock Fish, Shiyu sat down to eat. However, she had just picked up her chopsticks when San Pang crawled out from under the table and grasped at the hem of her clothes. In a wavering voice, he said, “I- I can still eat…”
Shiyu glanced at his bloated belly and tossed him unceremoniously out the window and into the sunny garden bellow. No, she was not at all sorry.
Ever since Feng Luo came over to stay with them at the Villa,  Shiyu just happened to need some pointers for her sword technique and Feng Luo was more than happy to give it to her since the excuse they had used to move him into the College Villa was to ‘help his juniors’. No one said anything about him never leaving the College grounds, and he was prudent enough not do anything stupid either. Lin Fan too would give her pointers now and then, even San Pang.
Though San Pang’s tiny form meant that he could not use a blade effectively against a taller person, he was no weakling. As a Water Attribute creature, he could directly create blades made from ice and would launch sneak attacks on Shiyu when they sparred. The sneaky, snickering Radish was so tricky that Shiyu ended up with plenty of bruises from the blunted ice spears.
Therefore, she was not at all hesitant about throwing this glutton out the window whenever he overindulged on her food.
More time passed, and news from Feng City eventually reached the College on wings of rumour. The so-called supporters who had rushed over to Feng City to bite off a piece of the Feng Clan meat pie found themselves bitten instead. In fact, they were so ravaged by the Feng Clan that they could only hang their heads in misery and slunk out of Feng City in disgrace.
At first, nobody could tell what had happened. Finally, the one persistent rumour they could determine was that the Feng Elders had deliberately spread the bad rumours to lure in traitors and enemies of the Feng Clan. It was said that the Feng Elder had already brokenthrough to the Divine Condensation Stage, one month before rumours of him attempting to breakthrough was leaked out. When people heard this, they were stunned.
“Then… the eight masters who attacked the Feng Family…?”
“It is said they were all injured, when in fact they had been obliterated.”
Silence fell at this statement.
So, this was the strength of a Divine Condensation Stage, ah. The power was just too overwhelming. What was even more amazing was that even with the Law of Suppression capping everyone’s Cultivation at Great Perfection Level of Core Condensation Stage, Elder Feng was still able to complete a breakthrough and surpass all others.
The Feng Clan has successfully produced a Divine Condensation Stage Master, possible the only one in the whole of Ninth Realm.
The news spread like wildfire across the Imperial Capital and eventually into the College. Envious people, sycophants and everyone in between rushed to try and make connections with the heir of such a great powerhouse. For a while, the villa became very lively.
Why only ‘a while’?
Because Shiyu could not stand the disturbance for long and escaped to the back mountains to train herself. Equally introverted Lin Fan used the excuse as her ‘sparring partner’ to escape with her. As for Feng Luo, the great protagonist of this story suddenly decided that these group of people had nothing to do with him. After all, poor Shiyu desperately needed all the help she could get, so who was he to refuse her in her hour of need after she had been so kind to him?
Thus, he took flight and ran off to become ‘backup sparring partner’.
It was only three days later, on the day of the End of Term Competition, the student body finally laid eyes on the elusive habitants of the Bamboo Villa.
[Gumihou: Lol, I had so much fun. It wouldn’t have been half as fun if I had decided to stick to everything and portray the text faithfully in all its (wrong) glory.]
 Additional Details: Some stream of consciousness type of thoughts to explain her sudden decision to train endlessly.  Peacock Fish dilemma: I swear, if it’s a knife trick that makes it delicious in the end, I shall scream. Also, when did they eat the lunch time Peacock Fish? Did they eat the fish? Nevermind, I don’t care either let’s just stick it in somewhere.  Stir-fried Clams: Shiyu never gave the proper instructions. So, I’ll give everyone my version of Stir-fried Clams, this one is closer to Sakemushi Clams with lots of sweet wine. I especially mentioned this because in the original text ‘The wine… should not be too much, and the purpose was to have a light wine aroma’ Yeah, no, the purpose is to get drunk on the clam broth. Trust Gumihou, it’s very yum. From the way those boys could not resist the dish, it seems more likely to be a heavier tasting dish than a lightly flavoured classy dish. So, pour on the sweet wine darlings!
Also, it was only after the food it on the table that author finally described the dish. There was ‘a red layer of chilli oil’ when did you put this? Also, if you want to drown all your food in chilli oil, why do you even bother with the wine? Is this one of those dishes where you just look at the picture and guessed at its instructions?
Gumihou was disturbed. Gumihou consulted a few cooking sites including two Chinese language recipe sites.
Conclusion: Clams stir-fried with Chilli, no wine; Clams stir-fried with wine, no chilli
Gumihou prefers wine. Readers, you get Sakemushi Clams. The word ‘spicy’ has been deleted from this chapter.
Author may have added Chilli oil later to make the young man flushed and attractive. However, Shiyu/author committed a cooking faux pas ‘from their red open lips and desperate gasping, one could see that the spiciness is not light’ grrrrilllll, so why add wine? Why the ‘light wine aroma’ when you’re already planning to dump chilli on them? Also, you don’t need cooking skills if all you do is dump chilli on everything!!!
That’s okay, Gumihou can make the boys blush with wine and with more class too. Observe. Additional Information for Transitional Purpose: They were eating> San Pang was kicked away> They were…fighting?
Whatever, apply patch. Plot Related Info – Chapter 67: Note 8
I added close to a page of transitional information on ‘Reasonable excuse for Uncle Feng to let Feng Luo leave with Shiyu’ which came in useful now. The excuse was ‘pointers from a senior’ to purportedly help Feng Clan save face. Made use of the excuse now.
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