Seeing that they had properly cut the fish into thin slices and marinated them, Su Tang nodded and praised, “Well done!”
This time, Su Tang was planning to make some Sichuan Boiled Fish for Luo Xingchen. On the one hand, she had already promised to prepare a new dish for Luo Xingchen to taste, while on the other hand, the orange cat had been running around all over the place on her behalf lately which, while extremely helpful for her, was also a lot of hard work. Thus, this was a good opportunity to reward him.
After all, although the orange cat was a cat, he was actually quite omnivorous and even had a penchant for spicy food. In the past, he had really loved Su Tang’s Hot and Sour Grilled Fish, so this time she had decided to prepare something even more amazing for him. Therefore, she had even especially found some snakehead fish from the space and began preparations to make Sichuan Boiled Fish.
Yu Caihe and Zhang Cuilan heard Su Tang’s praise and they both smiled happily. After all, before they had sold themselves they had both been from poor families and they had often needed to cook and serve meals at home. Therefore, although they didn’t know any fancy recipes or methods of cooking, they had been able to rely on the basic cooking skills they already knew to start helping Su Tang right away without needing to be taught.
Seeing that the fish fillets had already been properly marinated, Su Tang instructed them to start creating the soup base for the Sichuan Boiled Fish. Yu Caihe and Zhang Cuilan immediately started working, frying garlic, dried chilis, and sichuan peppercorn together to create the heavy seasoning. Soon, the kitchen was full of thick smoke and a pungent odor.
The two women had to use pieces of cloth to cover their noses and mouths as they worked, and the kitchen was very noisy. Even Su Nuo, who had been doing his homework, was attracted over by all the commotion. He asked curiously, “Sister, what are they making?”
Su Tang replied with a smile, “Sichuan Boiled Fish.”
“Boiled? It doesn’t look like it’s boiling.” As soon as he heard the name, Su Nuo couldn’t help but comment. He didn’t see how what they were cooking was related to “boiled” at all.
Su Tang just responded with a faint smile. However, Luo Xingchen was much more meticulous and observant than Su Nuo, and she instantly spotted something off. Yu Caihe seemed to have just added something to the seasoning mix that she had never seen before. She immediately asked: “Is that a new kind of spice again?”
She had definitely seen it just now. The servants had added some sort of green, round thing that she had never seen before to the mix.
“It’s not new, but it’s somewhat rarely seen in the north.” Su Tang wasn’t surprised by Luo Xingchen’s reaction. After all, Luo Xingchen had been learning to do business since childhood, and if a businessperson wasn’t sensitive to these sorts of things then there was no way they could lead a flourishing business.
“What is it then?” Luo Xingchen looked at Su Tang anxiously. If this thing wasn’t commonly found in the north, then if they could grow and sell it that would be a huge business opportunity.
Thinking of this, she continued asking, “Can it be mass-produced and used to make this kind of seasoning?”
Su Tang laughed. Her friend’s mind was really full of nothing but business. Eventually, she shook her head and replied: “What’s the hurry? Maybe we can try it later. Don’t be too anxious, we haven’t even finished making the chili and tomato sauces yet.”
It was important to grow their business, but they could only eat one mouthful at a time. It wouldn’t do to be in too much of a rush.
Luo Xingchen smiled when she heard Su Tang’s words that seemed filled with confidence that their business would continue to get bigger and bigger in the future, and she felt a smoldering heat in her chest. Perhaps she wouldn’t even need to become the next head of the Luo family, perhaps she would be able to start a new chapter of the Luo family, starting with herself.
Although Luo Xingchen was a woman, it was undeniable that she had been raised as a man. She could even have this sort of wildly ambitious idea! Her thoughts were definitely unusual for this era, even for a man. Of course, if Su Tang knew what her friend was thinking, she would certainly just say that this kind of ambition was really to her tastes.
After the seasoning mix was done, the two women turned their attention to the fish fillets and began dipping them into the soup to cook one at a time. Once they were properly cooked, they immediately took the fillets and added them to the serving dish alongside the bean sprouts and other vegetables.
That done, they strained out the watery part of the soup and, as a final touch, added the earlier prepared seasoning mix on top. Then they poured the hot oil down over the whole thing. There was a sizzling sound as the oil met the food ingredients, and the kitchen was instantly full of a tantalizing fragrance.
Just like that, something approximately equivalent to Sichuan Boiled Fish was created. Of course, because there were still some deficiencies in the spices and ingredients at hand, there would definitely be some differences in taste compared to what Su Tang used to eat in the modern era, but she was confident that it would still taste good.
In addition to Sichuan Boiled Fish, Su Tang also had Yu Caihe make a few side dishes, including Tomato and Egg Soup, cumin potatoes, and both boiled and fried vegetable dishes. Finally, dinner was ready.
tl begging corner:
tl note: These are my least favorite chapters because it’s basically like the author is transcribing a recipe to make a chinese dish… poorly. I didn’t leave anything out while translating this chapter (I don’t think) but there are a lot of missing steps for actually cooking sichuan boiled fish. Also, I don’t know how to cook the dish myself, but I used this excellent English language resource to cross-check the recipe. All credit to “Judy” for her recipe over there.