Chapter 262 Meaty Pork Crackling Noodle (q)
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Gumihou
 Shiyu found the map of the Ge Residence on the living room table, exactly as Dong-Fang Zhen left it.
Under a tacit agreement nurtured over weeks of living together. The living room table became a place where messages are left for people they cannot meet up easily. After all, everyone has their own thing to do and there were no convenient means of communication. Naturally, emergencies are treated differently.
It was not yet considered late. Night in a big city like the Imperial Capital bustles with life and would only peter out quietly after midnight.
Shiyu cheerfully went out into the night with the Devil Vine. She followed instructions on the map and made her way towards the Ge Estate.
The Ge Clan seems to be holding a banquet that evening. If the many gorgeous carriages parked just outside the was any indication. Also, many of the carriages have emblems on them, indicating that they belonged to various important clans and not just random rich people. Looks like tonight’s guests are quite high in status.
Shiyu looked around and spotted a lively stall not far from the Ge Estate. When she approached, she saw that it was a noodle stall.  The thing that caught her eye was a large bubbling pot of hot soup. The stall was illuminated by a string of lanterns hung around a few seating areas. The warm orange glow gave the whole place a very comfortable feeling.
Attracted by the scent of noodles, Shiyu came and sat down at a corner table. She glanced over at other patrons’ tables and saw that the noodles served here looked very delicious. The oil on top seemed to dance with light and the toppings were very generous.  When the boss came over, she did not hesitate to order a bowl.
Because she was about to do something improper, Shiyu had come out wearing a human skin mask of a middle-aged woman. A very plain and forgettable face that would not leave much impression on people.
“Dear guest, your Meaty Pork Crackling Noodles,” the shopkeeper swiftly brought over a large bowl of noodles and set it onto her table.
 Shiyu studied the bowl.
It was filled to the brim with  hearty goodness. The most eye-catching thing was a red braised meat the width of three fingers and nearly a foot long.  A bit of this belly meat was actually hanging off the edge of the bowl. Under the meat were noodles, vegetables, mushrooms, black fungus and other good things soaking together in a warm broth.
Shiyu picked out a  mysterious golden lump floating on the soup. At first, she thought it was a piece of fried lard but after taking a bite, she realised it was actually crispy fried pork crackling. Naturally, after soaking in the soup, it was not crispy anymore but thanks to the pieces of fried pork skin, the soup was imbued with its fragrance.
 As for the giant, foot-long slab of meat over the noodles, though it looked like a huge intimidating piece of meat that required strong teeth or sharp knives, in reality, it was very tender and flavourful without being too oily or greasy.
 In the first place, this large piece of meat was taken from the very best part of the pork belly. The ‘Five Flower Meat’, the portion that was made into streaky bacon or grilled as ‘samgyeopsal’ in Korean barbecue. The meat’s unique feature is its beautifully layered fat and lean meat.
Moreover, instead of being simply boiled or grilled over a fire, which could potentially leave the meat too fatty or dry, the pork belly has been braised. The skin was left on the pork belly and fried in oil until it formed a ‘tiger skin’ after it has been lightly blanched. By frying then soaking the meat in cold water, the skin on the pork becomes puffy and chewy without being tough or greasy.
Tiger skin pork
 The meat is then cut into thick slices and simmered with a secret blend of spices and seasoning. This way, the maximum flavour is imbued into the meat without damaging the meat. The end result was a flavoursome slab of pork belly with chewy skin, flavourful lean meat and soft, melt-in-your-mouth fat.
How satisfying it is to take alternating bites of the meat followed by a mouthful of noodles. Now and then supplementing the meat and carb feast with various vegetables and sips of soup.
Shiyu had not expected to encounter such delicacy in this kind of place. While she ate, she pondered over how this bowl of noodles is made.
It is an occupational disease for a chef to automatically analyse the dishes one ate to analyse its strength and weaknesses, to make comparisons and wonder how one’s skills would match up to others.
Shiyu had always been this way. The more time she spends in this world, the more she felt her skills were not enough. Therefore, whenever she encountered someone who could make something amazing, she would try to learn something from it.
It doesn’t matter whether the other party was a chef from an amazing restaurant or a stall operator. As long as they display better skills than her, they are worth learning from.
While she ate, there was a sudden roar from around the corner of the street. Shiyu looked up and saw a group of people in black cloaks moving down the road riding on Spiritual Beasts. She could not see the faces of the people since the black cloak covered most of their faces but the tiger-like monsters were very obvious with their size and blood-red, flaming eyes. As the tiger beasts trotted over, they growled or roared periodically at everyone they met.
The entire street was silent, stunned by this incredible entrance. Moreover, the aura of these people was not ordinary. From appearance and entrance alone, these people were already very incredible. However, Shiyu recognised the oppressive feeling given off by these people.
The Cultivation level of these people was… very extraordinary. She recognised this feeling.  As a Core Condensation 9, her ability is the real thing. This kind of oppressiveness… could only come from more than a dozen Divine Transformation powerhouses!
To invite this kind of people openly to their house. Looks like Patriarch Ge’s faction is really planning to overthrow the current powers of the Eastern Martial Empire…
As she watched, she saw members of the Ge Clan coming out to welcome the people in black. The guests barely acknowledged the presence of Patriarch Ge’s representative and rode their mounts straight past the gates of the Ge Estate. Instead of being resentful, the representatives of the Ge Clan became even more deferential and respectful.
From this scene alone Shiyu could tell just how powerful these people were.
A dozen or so Divine Transformation experts, ah… what a headache.
However, all is not lost. After all, even though these people have the strength, they had not attacked the Imperial Family yet. Looks like they must not be entirely confident of their position yet.
Well, there’s no point overthinking the matter. By now, the Dean should have gotten wind of what was happening here. She should just let the people in power make the major decisions while she continued to do what she can on the side.
That’s right, now that the sky is dark and the wind is high, it’s the perfect hour for murder, thievery and arson.
Knowing that there were many Divine Transformation experts in the estate, Shiyu planned to hide her presence as much as possible as she sneaked into the Ge Estate from the back.
Well, she had to admit that the Ge Clan was clearly a very rich aristocratic family. Even within the Imperial Capital, only those with clout and connection to occupy thousands of acres of land per clan are considered nobles. Without Dong-Fang Zhen’s map, she might never have found the medicine field in this ridiculously large compound.
Still, it’s not all bad news. Such a large estate meant that the banquet is happening at quite a distance from the medicine field. With everyone’s attention focussed on entertaining the very important guests, Shiyu’s action would not trigger any alarm for the time being.
Wrapping herself and the Demon Vine with her mental powers, Shiyu approached the medicine field carefully. The closer she got, the tighter the security. Once she got past the guards, she found that the field was enclosed by a barrier.
The barrier made it impossible to step even half a centimetre closer. Even the heavy fragrance of the medicines within was locked inside. Breaking this barrier meant bringing the attention of the entire estate onto her head.
To be so close to her target but unable to advance hurts Shiyu’s non-existent balls.
What should she do now? Give up? But she’s so close…
Frowning, she decided to give it a shot. After all, other noble estates should have similar security measures. If she couldn’t crack this one, she won’t be able to get into the others.
[Gumihou: Is this chapter supposed to show Shiyu’s humbleness and ability to deduce? Gumi’s response could only be… ¯\_༼ ಥ ‿ ಥ ༽_/¯]
 Added Details for Logistic Reason: Sentence started out looking like it was under Dong-Fang Zhen’s POV, but then it flipped over to Shiyu’s covert thingy.
 Added Details for Dramatic Purpose: Since this is supposed to be a food novel, let’s lavish some love on the food details and wax on about the deliciousness of streaky pork belly.
 Added Details for Dramatic Purpose: Give details on how Shiyu recognise these people as well as the welcoming group for the people in black.
Additional Note: Frankly speaking, Shiyu’s imaginary noodle is made from the combination of two types of noodles:
Frankly speaking, getting the combination of noodles : hefty meat : soup : other stuff (vegetables, mushrooms, black fungus, pork crackling and other good things) is kind of impossible. At best, you would achieve a B-grade big eater type of food like giant burgers or monster ramen instead of ‘refined food’.
Oh right, silly me. Shiyu has no taste at all and probably thinks loads of topping = delicacy.
What a pleb.
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Come choose your Tier~
Have a Grilled Rice Ball
Cooking St – 262 Meaty Noodle with Crackling (q)
Or Try a Skewer of Grilled Intestines
Cooking St – 263 Untitled
Cooking St – 264 Pan-Fried Shrimp Bun (a)
Big Eaters, Have a Bucket of Mala Crayfish
Cooking St – 265 Pan-Fried Shrimp Bun (b)
Cooking St – 266 Pan-Fried Shrimp Bun (c)
For those with a Discerning Palate, How about some Grilled Matsutake?
Cooking St – 267 Pan-Fried Shrimp Bun (d)
Cooking St – 268 Pan-Fried Shrimp Bun (e)
Cooking St – 269 Pan-Fried Shrimp Bun (f)
Cooking St – 270 Pan-Fried Shrimp Bun (g)
Cooking St – 271 Pan-Fried Shrimp Bun (h)
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