Translator: Sparrow Translations Editor: Sparrow Translations
The waitresses placed the 'Squirrel Mandarin Fish' on the tables very reluctantly. This dish was different from what they usually saw.
The shop owners sniffed. "Ahh, the dish is served. We haven't even eaten yet but this fragrance is already overwhelming. Looks like it's pretty good."
"This appearance looks amazing. Chief Wang really chose a good restaurant."
"This is a squirrel mandarin fish, right? Its appearance seems different from what I've had in the past."
The waitresses poured the steaming hot gravy onto the dishes. It instantly made squeaking sounds just like those made by squirrels.
Wu You Lan said in surprise, "This is different from the squirrel mandarin fish I've seen before. Those that I've seen never made this sound."
Wu Tian He was an experienced and knowledgeable man and he had eaten all kinds of delicacies. "This is an authentic squirrel mandarin fish. It's different from what most restaurants serve."
Wang Ming Yang was a little shocked. It wasn't the first time he had eaten at this place, when had they added this dish to the menu?
One of the shop owners said, "Huh? Where's Master Lin? I wonder how his dish is turning out."
Fraud Tian picked up his chopsticks and impatiently took a piece of the fish. "I'll try some first. This smells and looks amazing. It will obviously taste amazing too."
This 'squirrel mandarin fish' was really shaped like a squirrel. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a yellow-orange color. This appearance itself whetted everyone's appetites.
Fraud Tian took the piece of fish and placed it into his mouth. He chewed on it slowly. Suddenly, his eyes widened. Two flavors at their peaks exploded within his mouth.
When the crowd saw the look on Fraud Tian's face, they were astonished. What was with that expression? Had he eaten a worm or something?
One of the shop owners asked, "Is it good?"
Fraud Tian hesitated for a moment. "It's not good. Come, let's drink some wine."
Everyone raised their cups but as they did so, Fraud Tian put down his cup and started eating maniacally.
In the kitchen.
Lin Fan removed his chef's attire and then he asked, "Head Chef Li, where do I put this?"
Head Chef Li was slightly startled. He gained back his senses quickly and came forward. "I'll take it."
Lin Fan chuckled, then passed the uniform to Head Chef Li. This feeling of making ten servings of 'squirrel mandarin fish' was pretty good. He had still felt a bit unfamiliar when making the first serving, but by the second serving, he had started to feel familiar already.
His movements flowed like water, without a single moment's pause. It left Head Chef Li and the other chefs with their eyes wide open and mouths gaping, completely forgetting what they had been doing.
Head Chef Li was flabbergasted at that moment. He was convinced of this man's culinary skill. He had participated in several national culinary competitions before and attained second place a few times. As such, he was full of confidence in his own culinary skills. Even if he met some old masters, he might be respectful towards them but he surely wouldn't think less of himself than any of them. However, at that moment, he felt as if the gap between himself and that young man in front of him was too huge.
He had completely given in to Lin Fan's skill. When he had first seen those knife skills, he had been surprised but the second time he saw it, his feelings could no longer be described as 'surprise'. He was completely dumbfounded.
His speed was even greater than the first time. It was so fast that one's eyes couldn't even follow the knife.
He even knew how to make squirrel mandarin fish. Moreover, he had made it so well that Head Chef Li thought that it wouldn't lose to anyone else's. Head Chef Li now understood. There's always someone greater and there's always greater heights to achieve. This young man that stood in front of him was that someone at the peak.
Lin Fan's control of the flames had obviously left him stupefied as well.
As Lin Fan washed his hands, Head Chef Li immediately brought a towel. If Chief Zhang had seen this servant attitude of his, he would've been shocked. Head Chef Li's culinary skills were well-known by the masses. In fact, he had many honors bestowed upon himself. Yet, he was being so courteous to this young man at that moment.
"Thank you," said Lin Fan as he prepared to leave the kitchen. This feeling of cooking was not bad indeed. It seemed like he would have to do it more in future.
Head Chef Li drew on his resolve, then finally said, "Dear Master, could you make one more of that dish?"
Lin Fan looked at Head Chef Li in surprise. "What's the matter?"
Head Chef Li said, "Your culinary skills are truly admirable. I want to take one more close look at it and at the same time, I want to give your squirrel mandarin fish a try. Please."
Since he had said so much, Lin Fan couldn't just leave him disappointed. Moreover, this Head Chef Li had such a good attitude that he couldn't refuse, so Lin Fan said with a smile, "Alright, then I'll make one more serving."
He didn't only know how to make this dish. There were many other delicacies in Jiangsu cuisine but since Head Chef Li asked for it, Lin Fan just made another squirrel mandarin fish.
Head Chef Li watched him without looking away for even a moment. He had to watch seriously and closely this time. He knew himself that he was inferior in making this dish, hence, he wanted to find out just where the brilliance of the dish lay.
The knife skills were on display once more. Head Chef Li knew that he probably wouldn't achieve this level of skill in his lifetime because this wasn't something that could be trained. It was raw talent.
Even if he trained his a*s off for 30 years, it wouldn't amount to the understanding that someone talented could achieve in a year.
This 1% talent is sometimes more significant than the 99% hard work. It is a popular saying used to encourage students, but this part is often left out because it is too harsh.
Even if you work even harder, it wouldn't amount to someone else's 1% of talent.
The wok was heated up. Oil was added. Head Chef Li kept track of the time in his mind. 30 seconds.
It was 5 seconds faster than before.
This made Head Chef Li confused. He had seen Lin Fan make ten servings of squirrel mandarin fish but each time, the timing was different.
He wanted to ask but he didn't dare to. He was afraid of disturbing Lin Fan.
Lin Fan lifted the fish onto the wok, then looked at Head Chef Li and smiled, "This heat control is dependant on feel. The temperature of the oil has to increase five times. It must be closely watched. The heat from the flames can vary and thus the time will vary as well. A squirrel mandarin fish can be cooked at a flame of level 5 to 8 but for the best result, it should be kept at level 5. Every second makes a difference in the tenderness of the fish."
Head Chef Li focused his attention and listened attentively. It made him feel like he was back in his younger days. Back then, his professor, who had already been in his seventies, would explain things to him just like Lin Fan was doing.
Head Chef Li asked, "How do you judge if the oil temperature is at five times?"
Lin Fan smiled, "That takes practice. Practice controlling the changes in the oil."
Head Chef Li nodded. It was easy to say but to do it was incredibly difficult.
Lin Fan grabbed the supplementary ingredients and without looking, he added them in at the appropriate timings, "The same ingredients, prepared by different chefs can produce entirely different tastes. There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people's eyes. The dishes' tastes can never be the same. Even if it's the same chef preparing the same dish, there would be a subtle difference in the taste each time. In order to control this subtle difference, you have to rely on feel."
Head Chef Li stood by Lin Fan's side. He didn't even dare to take a deep breath. He just listened carefully.
Meanwhile, Lin Fan wanted to earn some Encyclopedic Points so he wasn't tired of explaining.
He removed it from the wok. A delicious serving of squirrel mandarin fish was ready.
"Encyclopedic Points +1"
A wide smile appeared on Lin Fan's face. That was an easily earned Encyclopedic Point.
Bursts of aroma emitted from the dish. Head Chef Li's heart shifted. He felt a kind of rush. Then, he picked up his chopsticks and placed a piece of fish into his mouth.
Head Chef Li's body shuddered. His taste buds utterly blew up. That sweet and sour taste flooded his mouth.
That flavor made his spirit start to boil up. He closed his eyes, then slowly savored the aftertaste. It was no longer a question of whether it tasted good. It had ascended into an art form.
Lin Fan watched as Head Chef Li savored it with his eyes closed, then Lin Fan chuckled. He packed up the things, then prepare to leave.
As Lin Fan reached the door, Head Chef Li opened his eyes. His expression changed greatly. "Master, may I ask where you learned your skills?"
What a question…
"New East Cuisine School," said Lin Fan with a laugh. He left the kitchen and thought, D*mn. That's all I could say but I don't think there's such a school.
Head Chef Li was puzzled. Where is this New East Cuisine School?
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