Little Cooking Saint – 0089 – Crab Soup Dumplings (f)

Little Cooking Saint – 0089 – Crab Soup Dumplings (f)

Chapter 89 Crab Soup Dumplings (f)

Translated by Gumihou

Edited by Gumihou

 

Speaking of which, Shiyu vaguely remembered that in the original book, Xue Qingge seemed to have pulled the same trick as before. When Lin Fan entered the College at 16, the two had formed a bond of some sort, but nothing formal was ever concluded. A year later when Lin Fan was 17, Xue Qingge received the order to marry one of the royal princes.

At that time, Lin Fan truly had Xue Qingge in his heart, so how could he bear to let her marry someone else? The two eloped quickly and later… [1] what had happened to the Lin Clan? It was never really mentioned in the original, but it can’t be anything good. When Lin Fan broke through the Divine Condensation Stage, he ascended to the Eighth Realm and returned with a Legendary Spiritual Herb. With the help of this herb, Xue Qingge also broke through to the Divine Condensation Stage and together, they ascended to the Eight Realm.

There was not much difference between the situation in the Original Book and now. The main difference was that Lin Fan had not developed any feelings for Xue Qingge. Because of this one difference, this unexpected estrangement happened.

Should she worry over this?

Well, since worrying about things can’t change anything, let’s not waste any more time on it. The most important thing to do now is to improve her own strength. Once she is strong enough to protect the people she wants to protect, there will be nothing for her to worry about.

The abrupt departure of the Xue Sisters had very little impact on Shiyu, but she still wanted to keep an eye out for a safer place to move her little family. The defences around Qing Shan City was too weak. If things progressed as the novel did, Lin Fan would be racking up more enemies in the future. People aiming the Lin Clan would also jeopardize the safety of her family.

Not to mention, she too was also picking up enemies like they were going out of fashion. There’s Mo Yin and her friends, Meng Li, now the Xue Sisters… Chances are, she was going to offend every single female who aimed to become Lin Fan’s wife…

She turned to Lin Fan, “Hey, is it possible that your family could move away from Qing Shan City into somewhere more hidden?” half expecting him to just dismiss her fears.

Unexpectedly, Lin Fan said, “It is impossible to be completely cut off from society. There are some places with excellent defences where a clan could stay safe yet still have access to the mundane world, but these places were few and far between. Moreover, competition for these places is fierce. I’d have to gamble my whole family’s resources and who knows how long it would take? I understand that you are worried about your family and I have been thinking about the problem. However, I haven’t found anything suitable yet.”

“I see, well that is a sticky problem indeed,” Shiyu sighed. “Never mind, there’s no rush yet. Let’s think through the matter slowly.”

“Actually, I know a place that might suit your needs,” San Pang suddenly piped up.

Shiyu and Lin Fan immediately stared at him, “Where?!”

“Inside the Spiritual Beast Mountain Range, ah,” said San Pang. “Slightly deeper inside the range is a spot about five miles wide that no [2] powerful Spiritual Beasts dare to approach. Once, Cloud Beast and I were chased by powerful Spiritual Beasts and we escaped to this place. It could be a good place to house for your clan, right?”

“Oh?” what unexpected good news. Shiyu said, “Take us to that area tomorrow.”

“No problem, ah!”

Feng Luo was already interested in visiting the Mountain Range, so he was very willing to join the expedition. Xiao Qi and Lao Er wanted to go too, but in the end, Lao Er elected to stay back and look after Grandpa.

Now that Grandpa was awake, he could converse with them for a short while before having to rest again. Moreover, the majority of the medicinal herbs brought by Feng Luo were aquatic medicinal herbs with mild restorative properties, which she began adding into Grandpa’s food,

With the responsible Lao Er here, she would feel more at ease. However, she also understood that he also longed to challenge the Spiritual Beast Mountain Range and felt a little guilty about leaving him behind. Privately, she thought: I must find him a Thunder Seed soon so that he could start his Cultivation journey.

In fact, she had already spoken to Lao Er about the Azure Seed, but he preferred to wait for something better. Especially since the Azure Seed was already near the end of its lifespan. Moreover, he still harboured hope for getting a Thunder Seed. Therefore, Shiyu resolved to keep looking.

On the night before they depart, Shiyu [3] brought anyone who wished to follow her to the little stream to catch crabs. Since no one ate these weird-looking beasts here, the crabs in the stream were fat and plentiful. Rather than ‘catching’, it was more like collecting. While the crabs were not quite as fat as autumn ones, they were all very nice and meaty. 

After killing and scrubbing the crabs clean, Shiyu steamed them to maintain their freshness. Once the steamed crab had cooled down, she began removing crabmeat from their shells. The most troublesome thing about eating crabs was getting the meat out. It was even written in the [4] <<Dream of Red Chamber>> that to eat one crab, one has to go through eight different obstacles. It was certainly quite complicated for a novice, ah.

Her little helpers were all thumbs as they puzzled over these weird, insect-like creatures. Catching them had been fun, but cracking them open and getting the meat out was tricky. [5] If you pressed too hard, it cracks cleanly in two and you’ll have to pry the meat out. If you don’t press hard enough, the shell would just crack, but not break apart. Finally, Shiyu got a pair of scissors and cut the crab legs open and have the little kids pry out the meat with a toothpick.

Speaking of shelling crabs, in her previous life she worked as an apprentice at a restaurant that sold Crab Noodles as its signature dish. To ensure the quality of their Crab Noodles, the restaurant uses fresh crabmeat. Crabs would be brought in and shelled every day by the unfortunate apprentices. After all, one can’t expect the actual chefs to do such mundane work, right? Therefore, all low-level apprentices were expected to shell crabs as part of their apprenticeship.

[6] In other words, Shiyu became very, very good at shelling crabs. The siblings watched in fascination as Elder Sister quickly and efficiently cracked open the body, legs and claws of this water insect beast as though they were melon seeds and effortlessly scooped out the flesh with a little toothpick. Clearly, there’s no one in the world as amazing as their Elder Sister.

As they worked, Shiyu said, “Crabs are cold in nature, so remember to drink some ginger soup later. Also, make sure not to eat too much, alright?” this was directed sternly at Xiao Wu, who was nibbling on the crabmeat he was supposed to be placing into the basin in the middle of their shelling circle.

Feng Luo and Lin Fan were also conscripted to work on shelling crabs, but though they have the strength, they lacked the dexterity of getting crabmeat out of shells with minimal breaks and kept accidentally throwing fragments of shell into the basin of crabmeat. In the end, they could only glower at their broken crab and lament over their incompetence.

It took a while to get a full basin. When it was done, Shiyu confiscated the basin of crabs and headed for the kitchen. She generously allowed her coolies to eat the rest of the crabs. [7] Shiyu also took the basin of discarded shells with her, much to the mystification of the rest. However, they were soon distracted by the notion of eating the rest of the crabs and soon forgot all about it.

[7] In the kitchen, Shiyu set aside the crabmeat and began processing the crab shells first. The secret to a strongly flavoured crab dish is not in the crabmeat, but the crab shells. For example, the French soup ‘bisque’ is made from crushed crustacean shells, which are then boiled with rice and then strained to make a creamy soup that could be further thickened with milk or cream. It’s a very luxurious and expensive dish, but was actually made with ugly crabs or lobsters that could not be served nicely on customers’ plates.

[7] First, Shiyu cracked the red shells with the back of her knife and then further crushed it with a mortar and pestle. To add fragrance, she lightly toasted the crushed shells on the wok with some chilli and garlic to infuse some extra seasoning into the crab powder. Once it’s cooled down enough, she tipped the powder, along with the dried aromatics into a jar. Heheh, Shiyu could not resist the urge to rub her cheek against the fragrant jar. She now has an extra seasoning she could use to sprinkle on her dishes and instantly elevated it from ordinary to amazing.

[7] As for the crabmeat, it would be a waste to infuse too many flavours into such fresh, succulent meat so Shiyu just lightly stir-fried it with a little lard, garlic and sweet wine and set it aside to be used for topping or stuffing. Instead of further cooking the crab, it was more like infusing some additional flavours into the tender meat.

Now that her crab powder was done and her crabmeat now steeping in sweet wine, it was time to make the Crab Soup Dumplings. The process was similar to making Shrimp Soup Dumplings. She had already prepared some extra aspic [8] yesterday and was now mixing crab powder into her minced pork, all the better to infuse all that nice crabby flavour. Then, she carefully folded in the aspic into the pork. The more aspic one put into a soup dumpling, the more soup one gets. Shiyu liked a moderate amount of soup, so she went easy with the aspic since the crab would have soaked up some of the wine as well anyway.

Shiyu folded the dumplings with a 1:1 ratio of minced pork and crabmeat and folded them into the dough. The skin of the dumpling had been kneaded with some potato starch to get that slightly translucent effect and folded with the traditional 18 folds. Soon, she has a whole steamer full and set those steaming while she made more.

When the first basket was done steaming, she had already filled two more baskets. Of course, while she was not looking, [9] Xiao Wu had already reached into the first basket with his chopsticks and was about to bite into the piping hot dumpling.

[9] “Stop! Stop!” Shiyu shrieked.

[9] But it was too late.

[9] Hot soup spilt out of the delicate skin and scalded Xiao Wu’s mouth.

[9] “Uggh, woo…” he choked, but determinedly swallowed the dumpling and reached for another one.

[9] Shiyu’s eyes widened. Are you a masochist?!

“Stop that!” she scolded. “It’s too hot to eat, do what I do.” She picked up a soup dumpling and placed it onto a spoon. Then, she poked a little hole into the skin and sipped the soup that flowed out of the dumpling. Once she had sipped the hot soup up, she placed the dumpling into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully.

The crab powder in the pork lent a delicate fragrance that was savoury, but not too overpowering. The crabmeat and pork combined to give the dumpling a delicate, refreshing flavour that would not be available in a pork only dumpling. “Good,” she commented.

She was about to grab another one when she saw others had surrounded the basket with a pair of chopsticks and a spoon in hand. Looks like everyone here is a quick learner. When she had sent out the Shrimp Soup Dumplings yesterday, she had not included any special instructions since she expected the food to have cooled down a quite bit after travelling from here to the individual courtyards.

Feng Luo chewed happily at his Crab Soup Dumplings, “I never thought that eating could be such a fun and interesting activity. Ever since I started spending time with you, nearly every single meal is a joy. I’m afraid I might not be able to help myself, but look to you for my meals in the future.”

What this child had not noticed was that company was very important when it came to the taste of the food too. In the past, he ate when he had to. He attended banquets to mingle rather than eat. But here, in this small courtyard surrounded by friends and pure earnest children laughing and chattering over everything under the sun, anything would have tasted delicious.

No matter how delicious something is, eating alone dampens the experience. However, when you are with good friends and intimate relatives, even the noisiest stall with cheap wine and cheaper side dishes would have been delicious.

 

[Gumihou: UwU Feng Luo is so pure. But Shiyu! Your Crab Powder!!?]

 

[1] Added More Details for Introspection: To create a better atmosphere and link up the original story with this one.

[2] Note Weird Detail Inconsistency: San Pang, even if you’re not a real Spiritual Beast, Cloud Beast is still a ‘Spiritual Beast’, right? In the original text, ‘…no Spiritual Beasts dared to approach the 5 mile area within the range’…

Let me ask you again, are you or are you not Spiritual Beasts?

If you’re a spiritual beast, why are you in the middle of the ‘No Beast Land’???!!

Changed ‘no Spiritual Beasts’ to ‘no powerful Spiritual Beasts’

[3] Additional Detail Because It Made More Sense: Don’t tell me the kids won’t be interested in catching crabs with Shiyu and re-lived the simpler times when they were beggars?

[4] <<A Dream of Red Chamber>> is a real book written in 1791 in vernacular Chinese, which made it accessible to a lot of people. It is a story of the declining fortunes of an eminent family which had once served Qing dynasty emperors. Eating and cooking is a social activity and over 40 dishes were mentioned in the book. In short, it’s a historical foodie novel, lol!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_of_the_Red_Chamber

[5] Addition Cooking Details: How to get the meat out of crabs

[6] Additional Detail for Character Development: Connect Shiyu’s little tidbit from the past to her present.

[7] Rant Time:

蟹粉 xièfěn = Crab Powder, when read together in Chinese means ‘crabmeat’. However, our lovely writer In the Prime of Life must have misunderstood something because she interpreted 蟹粉 as crab powder.

Shiyu ended up processing the crabmeat: stir-frying with garlic and sautéed in wine etc, which is fine. But then, she ‘squeezed out the juice and grind the meat down to powder

Wut.

No, no, no, no!

You do NOT-

You NEVER!!!

Crab powder exist! This is true, but it’s made from CRAB SHELLS!!!!!

Also, while pickled crab MEAT exits too, it’s generally done with RAW CRABMEAT!!

Shiyu! This is Dark Cooking! Why are you-

Aehakje hflaeuhr;kjg!!??!

Since there is no geographic or plot-related importance into turning CRABMEAT into CRAB POWDER. Gumihou shall give you the correct way of making crab powder.

Sighed.

Please don’t make crab powder with crabmeat. It’s a waste of crabmeat and it doesn’t work anyway.

[8] Added Details for Logistics: Aspic is very time-consuming to make. It’s boiling down pork skin and letting the soup cool down into jelly. If Shiyu knew that she’s making more soup dumplings the next day, she should have made extra yesterday and kept them on ice. By the way, she did not mention aspic.

[9] Added Details for Comedic Purpose: Come on, Greedy Foodie + Hot Food = Hilarity

 

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