When she saw that the Hot and Sour Grilled Fish was coming along well, Su Tang stepped aside and began to work on the dinner for her and Su Nuo and herself. In a blink, she had set out a small earthen pot onto the small counter, drizzled a few drops of fresh soy sauce inside, and then added some with hand-shredded bok choi from inside the space. Then she added shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, abalone mushrooms, potatoes, white radishes, tofu, and finally chopped green onions.
Su Tang expertly adjusted the fire to the right size and then set the earthen pot over it to cook before standing up.
Luo Xingchen, who had been watching Su Tang carefully, was surprised when she looked to be done after doing that much. “Is that alright? Is there no broth?”
Although Luo Xingchen didn’t know how to cook, she had experience eating in many places all over the country and this was the first time she had seen a dish prepared with such a method that didn’t involve a broth at all.
Su Tang shook her head. “No need.”
When she saw that the fish was almost done on Zhang Cuilan’s side, she walked over to the prepared iron pan and began adding in the fresh vegetables, tofu, potatoes, and so on before pouring in the soup base they had just finished making. That done, she instructed Zhang Cuilan to add the final ingredient, the grilled fish, to the pan.
Zhang Cuilan had just finished grilling one and quickly added it in, then the next one a moment later. Like that, they were done, just needed to let the pan simmer for a while before serving. After a while, there was a knock on the door that led outside the courtyard.
Su Nuo went over and opened the door and, sure enough, it was Pengmo, “Young miss!”
Pengmo quickly saluted Su Tang as soon as he stepped through the door. Seeing that it was him, Su Tang quickly put the Hot and Sour Grilled Fish into a container suitable for carrying and covered it with a thick cloth before handing it over to Pengmo. She said, “Just reheat the rice that I made earlier today and eat it with this dish. Make sure you watch my master, it’s already late so don’t let him eat too much.”
Pengmo listened to Su Tang’s warning and agreed and, seeing that, Su Tang turned back and said, “Baohe, you go with Pengmo and deliver some more soup to my master’s place and then come back, okay?”
Because the Hot and Sour Grilled Fish would be feeding the two men at the Song residence Su Tang was a bit afraid that there wouldn’t be enough soup, so she especially asked Baohe to deliver some more.
Baohe cleverly promised to follow Su Tang’s words and then picked up the container of soup before following Pengmo out the door.
Meanwhile, Luo Xingchen could only sadly watch as the Hot and Sour Grilled Fish that was ready to eat was carried away. Of course, she knew that Su Tang had no choice but to make food for her master first, and it wasn’t like she could rob it away, so she had no choice but to wait for the next one.
Zhang Cuilan was a quick learner and immediately began to work on the second batch after the first was carried away. She followed the method that Su Tang had demonstrated, first adding in vegetables, potatoes, tofu, and other ingredients, then adding the soup base, and finally adding the grilled fish and letting it stew.
Meanwhile, Luo Xingchen had been watching the earthen pot Su Tang had set up earlier. She saw that, though she had expected it to be dry inside the pot, at some point the shredded bok choi Su Tang had added had begun to release a sweet-smelling water after cooking for a while, and that water was now slowly filling the small earthen pot and causing the other ingredients to mix together into a kind of a soup that emitted a unique and fresh aroma.
By the time Baohe came back, it was already time to eat. Before she had started cooking Su Tang had set aside some of the fish and vegetables for Zhang Cuilan and her daughter that they could eat in the kitchen.
At the same time, Su Tang, Luo Xingchen, and Su Nuo all went back to the main room to have their meal. The second Luo Xingchen sat down she eagerly grabbed a bowl of the Hot and Sour Grilled fish and began eating. She once again tasted this wondrous dish that was sour when it first touched her tongue and then became spicy seconds later. Tasting this familiar taste after a long time made Luo Xingchen narrow her eyes happily and exclaim, “This taste is really something. It’s delicious!”
Over on her side, Su Tang was serving the dinner she had prepared for herself and her brother, but she couldn’t help but laugh seeing her friend like this. For people who liked to eat spicy food, the taste of chili was almost addictive, and if they weren’t able to eat it for a while they would find themselves feeling uncomfortable. It seemed that Luo Xingchen was currently in the grip of that particular addiction.
For herself, Su Tang liked the taste of chili okay, but right now she felt like eating this fresh vegetable soup even more.
Even though she hadn’t added any water, the moisture from all the fresh vegetables had filled the pot with broth. Su Tang carefully plucked out a piece of mushroom with her chopsticks and ate it. When she tasted its sweetness on her tongue her eyes also narrowed happily.
At the same time, she mused on the fact that she had only seasoned it a bit with a few drops of regular soy sauce. If only she had some Kunbu soy sauce on hand it would have tasted even better.