Lin Dan doesn’t stay in the kitchen. Instead, she asks the servants to set up a simple shed at the door of the shop, in which there are a stove, pans, bowls, a chopping board, kitchen knives and so on. She cleans her hands and face, and ties up her long hair with a kerchief so as to prevent her hair falling into pans and contaminating the food.
After stirring the marinade, Xiao Zhu pleads piteously, "Sister Lin, can you cook us noodles? We can only work when we are not hungry! "
Lin Dan gives him a slight smile, and then she cuts a piece of the prepared dough, quickly makes it into thin silver noodles and puts it into the boiled spring water. Finally she lines up five big bowls and scoops up a spoonful of milk-white bone soup in them for later use. When the noodles are cooked, she cuts the marinated meat into thin slices, places it neatly on the noodles, adds a few boiled green vegetable leaves, cuts half a marinated egg and puts it in the soup, and finally sprinkles chopped green onion and coriander.
"Eat now, get to work as soon as you finish." As soon as Lin Dan's voice stops, Xiao Zhu and Peony and other servants cheer, each of them carries a bowl of noodles in soup and begins to eat with big noises.
"Master, noodles are good and chewy. The sauce flavor of marinated meat is blended into the fresh flavor of bone soup. The taste is not too salty or too light. It is just right. Can I have another bowl?" Peony expresses her admiration while eating.
"Yes, I'll make one bowl of noodles. You and Cuckoo share it." When children grow up, they will naturally eat a large amount of food, one bowl more or one bowl less, Lin Dan can afford it. She turns to continue make noodles, but Xiao Zhu wonders, "Shopkeeper Lin, why do you want to move the kitchen out? People come and go in front of the shop, how inconvenient it is! "
"It is for the sake of convenience, that’s exactly the reason for moving the kitchen out. What kind of noodles customers want to eat, how much they need, they can directly tell me when entering through the door, I will immediately do as they want, and it doesn't need a moment to serve them on tables. The noodles just fished out of the pan are the best to eat, they are smooth and chewy, not glutinous, but they will become lumpy after a while, affecting the taste. When cooking at noon, the smoke will be so much that guests will choke. We will move back then." Lin Dan has always attached great importance to improving her cooking skills. The feelings of diners are what she cares most. Naturally, she always arranges whatever is convenient for them.
Xiao Zhu and others nod repeatedly to show their admiration while they hear a low voice outside, "Lin Dan, being a diner of your food is probably the happiest thing in the world."
"You come again." Lin Dan smiles and shakes her head. "I appreciate it. What flavor of noodles do you want? I'll cook for you."
"I eat whatever you cook." Brother Tang steps into the door, Xiao Zhu and others hurriedly walk forward, clean desks and chairs for him.
Lin Dan knows that Brother Tang is an authentic gourmand and he can accept any kind of food. Lin Dan cooks a bowl of noodles with gravy and sends it to him. After greeting the first diner, she begins to stir-fry minced ingredients (to be added to noodles or other food before serving). First, she fishes out a piece of pot-stewed pork from the gravy crock, cuts it into small pieces with a kitchen knife, puts it into another pan, stir-fries it for its aroma with dried wood in the stove, then adds dried bean curd, shredded bamboo shoots and cane shoots and other ingredients one after another, adds clean water. Those ingredients will finally be a pan of thick sauce.
"It smells good. Can I have some of this kind of minced ingredients?" Brother Tang looks at Lin Dan eagerly.
"Of course, but you need to pay an extra copper coin (an ancient coin) for adding a spoonful of minced ingredients." Lin Dan jokes.
"Even five extra copper coins are fair too." Brother Tang takes a deep look at her. In the end, he mixes the newly added minced ingredients into noodles, takes a big gulp, and his eyes become bright immediately. Only with one and a half kilos of marinated meat, she can stir-fry a large pan of vegetarian dices to produce so strong meat flavor. Lin Dan's skill is really fantastic.
Lin Dan seems to see his surprise and she explains, "Most people who get up before dawn to work are not rich and can only eat a mouthful of meat at festivals. If I sell a bowl of noodles with marinated meat at four copper coins here, some people can't afford it. It is better to use this piece of marinated meat to make a pan of semi-vegetarian minced ingredients with meat flavor, so that everyone can share it. With meat flavor, the price is still low. Dried bean curd, diced bamboo shoots and cane shoots are all crisp and soft food. They are easy to absorb oil and sauce. When cooked in marinade (also gravy), vegetarian dishes can also taste like meat dishes. This is the taste-changing method in seasoning."
Brother Tang puts down the bowl unconsciously. He is out of his mind after listening to Lin Dan.
Lin Dan talks about delicacies, many people nearby have followed the smell to find her shop. The marinated flavor is so strong; it must be a restaurant that is cooking breakfast and ready to sell it out. Although most people can't afford marinated meat, it's okay to go and buy a bowl of plain Yangchun noodles. The cook in this restaurant is certainly not bad at cooking, because the marinated meat is so aromatic.
With this in mind, many people turn into the deep alley and find the accurate location of this hometown restaurant without the guidance of others. Even if some people take the wrong route, they will come back soon. The aroma of food in the shop is the best sign.
After a short time, the shop is full of people. Seeing the steaming crock of gravy, they can’t help swallowing saliva and they feel the greedy worms in their stomachs begin to revolt. In particular, Brother Tang is enjoying his food happily. His expression of satiety with sweat on his face makes them greedier.
"Excuse me, how much does a bowl of noodles cost?" A strong man slurps down his saliva and asks.
"Yangchun noodles cost a copper coin, noodles with minced ingredients cost two, noodles with more minced ingredients cost three, and noodles with marinated meat cost four. I still have rice porridge to sell here, all for two coins." Lin Dan says slowly.
Servants including Xiao Zhu hurriedly run out and warmly greet the guests, "Please come inside if you want to have meals, sir."
"Noodles with minced ingredients only sell for two copper coins. Good minced ingredients like this?" The strong man points to the big pan, eyes glistening. The marinated meat in the pan has been completely cooked, while bamboo shoots, dried bean curd and cane shoots cubes are colored with the sauce color of marinated meat, and are also full of sauce flavor and meat flavor. They look like marinated meat. They are no different from marinated meat by eating, but they have more fresh and sweet taste than marinated meat.
The strong man is puzzled; he once thought that the pan of semi-vegetarian minced ingredients is made of pure marinated meat, so he looks surprised now. It must be known that minced ingredients like this will cost more than five copper coins in other shops.
"That's right; it's only for two copper coins. It is just made of vegetarian ingredients which cost nothing." Lin Dan patiently explains.
"Then a bowl for me!" No longer hesitating, the strong man immediately enters the shop, he is secretly pleased in his heart, and he says, "Whether it is meat ingredients or not, it doesn't matter if it tastes like meat."
He seems to be the leader of a group of people. He comes in, and the others come in, each asking for a bowl of noodles with minced ingredients. They have the same accent, so they must come from the same place.
Lin Dan says gently, "The accents of yours sound like that you are from the north of Shaanxi. How about I mix the minced ingredients with the flavor of your hometown?"
"You can adjust the flavor of minced ingredients? Good, even better!" Those people nod repeatedly.
Lin Dan puts a pan on the unused stove and pours some oil. When the oil temperature is 70% hot, she fries the chili powder into red oil for later use. Nine diners in total are here, and she scoops up nine spoons of the minced ingredients, stir-fries it with red oil for a while, thickens it with starch, and when the soup boils, she puts some finely chopped sour cabbage and boils it with the minced ingredients. In this way, the original minced ingredients with marinated flavor become a pan of red, hot, sour and salty minced ingredients of the north of Shaanxi.
The minced ingredients and noodles are cooked. Lin Dan scoops them up quickly and puts them in nine bowls. Then she sprinkles shredded gingers, chopped green onions and chopped coriander, lets Xiao Zhu and others carry them to the diners.
Those strong men originally come only with the attitude of tasting new food, and only when they see the familiar hometown noodles that they can’t be more familiar with, do they show their emotion. They can't wait to pick up chopsticks to eat, just a sip, tears flash in their eyes. Noodles are thin and chewy, sour and spicy, very tasty, and warm in the stomach. The nostalgia for a long time and the childhood memories that one dares not think about in nights all flash in their mind, arousing homesickness but also dispelling homesickness.
"It's delicious. It's the taste I had when I was a child!" The strong man eats the noodles immodestly, and his voice is hoarse when he speaks again. His fellow countrymen nod and look satisfied. After eating such a bowl of hometown noodles, one feels full of strength all over. It is sure that those who eat the noodles can move more goods and earn more money later.
"Delicious, I'll come back tomorrow." Before the noodles are eaten up, the strong man begins to say wistfully that his life, which was hard to live, seems to have hope.
"I'll come too." The crowd nod in response. The most delicious food that one will never be tired of eating is this hometown food.
Later on, a few more people, some short and with strong accents, come up to the door of the shop, their accents are difficult for ordinary people to understand what they are saying. However, Lin Dan has traveled extensively and is well-informed. Naturally, there is no obstacle to communicate with them. She explains the prices of noodles and rice porridge in detail.
Those people stares at the gravy crock for a while, and finally can’t resist the temptation, they walk in.
"The accents of yours sound like that you are from Baiyue (generic term for southern ethnic groups). How about I mix the minced ingredients with the flavor of your hometown?" Lin Dan asks politely.
Those people look not quite convinced, but they nod slightly. Lin Dan scoops out a few spoonfuls of minced ingredients, adds clean water to dilute the taste, and adds white sugar to flavor it. After that, she takes a small jar from the hearth, scoops out a few spoons of black sauce and pours it into the prepared minced ingredients. An unspeakable and offensive smell spreads in the air, but after blending with the sauce flavor of the minced ingredients with marinade, it becomes exceptionally fresh and has a faint smell of seawater.
Their unconvinced expressions are immediately replaced by surprise. They talk loudly for a long time and frequently raise their thumbs.
Lin Dan nods and says, "Yes, it's sand crab sauce. I made it myself. My elder brothers, good or not, please have a taste."
People from the west Baiyue especially like the sand crab sauce. They like to put a little of crab sauce to flavor dishes whether they make meat or vegetarian dishes. When cooking noodles, they also like to mix sand crab sauce, sweet noodle sauce, bean paste and other materials into minced ingredients. Lin Dan once stayed in the west Baiyue for several months, making authentic noodles of the west Baiyue with miscellaneous sauces with unique flavor and fishy smell.
The minced ingredients are ready, noodles are also in bowls, Lin Dan scoops a spoonful of thick milk-like soup to pour down, and sprinkles with pink dried small shrimps and chopped green onions, it looks wonderful.
Those people don't need Xiao Zhu to serve them, nor do they go in to find seats. They just stand at the door and watch Lin Dan cook noodles. When noodles are ready, they take them and eat them quickly. Whatever one has eaten, nothing is better than the food of one’s hometown.
The aroma is still spreading, and many diners have been here. Lin Dan will adjust the taste according to the requirements of each diner. For Sichuan people, she will add Chinese prickly ash, bean paste and other materials to make it hot and spicy. For Huxiang (also Hunan) people, she will make it spicy. There is sour and spicy flavor, onion flavor and so on. For those who don't like soup, noodles can be made into dry noodles with sauce and oily noodles with all kinds of flavors.
It is said that it is difficult to cater to the taste everyone, but it doesn’t seem to be such a difficult thing for her.