Lin Dan's outspoken words surprise the emperor. He originally despised this ugly little woman, but now, his eyes reveal a bit of interest, "I can naturally ensure the fairness of the competition. I will only look and will not comment. It is up to these gourmets to decide who the best cook is and who the worst cook is."
Lin Dan bows to those judges and adds, "Even saying so, this competition is still unfair to me. Imperial Chef Yan is very popular with Your Majesty. Now you have lent her Fragrant Garden for competition and come to watch it in person. Your behavior has shown your attitude--you have a strong bias. And you are the master of the world, and how do your people dare to disobey you? Today, as soon as I set foot in Fragrant Garden, I actually lost. I understand this truth and so does the wise emperor, Your Majesty."
The more the crowd listens, the more horrified they become. They don’t expect Lin Dan to be so outspoken.
However, the emperor bursts out laughing, with more interest in his eyes, "In this case, what will you do? Do you want to continue this competition? "
Yan Langqing shows a complicated expression. If it is possible, she naturally wants to compete with Lin Dan, but the emperor is so partial to her, and she cannot be ungrateful. Yan Shouye feels that the competition needs not be continued at all. Lin Dan comes to humiliate herself today. When his daughter becomes a concubine of the emperor, he must punish Lin Dan!
However, Lin Dan nods without hesitation, "Of course, but for the sake of fairness, I will set the rules. Is it okay, Your Majesty? In those days, when I first competed with Chef Yan, because I was a chef of the Mansion and my father was very popular with the Yongding Marquis. In order to be fair, the competition rules were decided by Chef Yan. She had the final say on what, how and who to judge. Now the situation between us is reversed, and I am asking the same, isn't that too much? "
The emperor gives Yan Langqing a look and nods, "It's not too much. Tell me, how do you want to compete? "
Although Lin Dan seems to have mastered the leading power, in fact the deterrent power of imperial power still exists. Even if she makes the most delicious dish, the referees can beat her down into the abyss with a word. The so-called fairness never exists in the face of power. Lin Dan is very bold, but she is not very intelligent. Thinking about this, the emperor shakes his head secretly, and smiles in his mind.
Lin Dan says gently, "In this competition, we will use the same ingredients to make the same dish, not many, just one dish."
Yan Langqing asks, "What dish do you want to make?"
"Dragon Boat Festival is approaching, How about making zongzi (pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves)?" Lin Dan turns her head to see her, smiles.
Yan Langqing freezes, it takes her a long time to return to absolute being, and she slowly nods. Through the four special dishes, she knows a little about Lin Dan's level. She thought she would compete with the dishes extremely difficult to cook, but she didn't expect she would come up with making zongzi. However, Yan Langqing is not frightened at all. The empress and concubines in the palace also love eating zongzi. She has made all kinds of zongzi that are well received, so she is not afraid. Each concubine in the palace is choosier than the others and she can serve them well. Naturally, she can serve those judges well.
"You and I, each makes fifty catties of zongzi and only meat zongzi, is that okay?" Lin Dan continues.
"Each makes fifty catties?" Yan Langqing finally shows a surprised expression.
"Can you do that?" Lin Dan looks at her straight.
"Very good, then please Your Majesty to provide us with one hundred catties of glutinous rice, fifty catties of streaky pork, glutinous rice and pork don't have to be separated, put them together in a barrel, we go into the kitchen to distribute, if you need additional spices, you can also ask the imperial secretary for them, do not interfere with each other. Is that okay?" Lin Dan cups her hands, being neither humble nor pushy.
The emperor nods and says, "I have given my approval, and you can begin to prepare for it." Each of you makes fifty catties of meat zongzi, for whom to eat? Lin Dan wants people here to be stuffed to death?
Not only does the emperor feel strange, the rest of the guests also look puzzled. However, Lin Dan and Yan Langqing have already gone to the kitchen one after another, leaving no time for them to ask. Even if they ask, she probably won't give an answer, so they can wait until the meat zongzi are made. They thought this was a competition that had been known the result before it started, but they didn't expect it to be set as suspense by Lin Dan. Shopkeeper Lin is quite interesting.
No matter how the nobles here may speculate, Lin Dan who has entered the kitchen is quiet inside. One hundred catties of glutinous rice are packed in a huge barrel, which is carried in by imperial officials breathlessly, followed by a barrel containing fifty catties of pork.
Lin Dan twists the glutinous rice with her hands and nods with satisfaction.
Yan Langqing asks, "Your worries are a bit superfluous. I won't let them prepare good materials for me and bad material for you. You can choose glutinous rice and pork first, and I will use the rest. "
Lin Dan turns to look at her with a slight smile on her face. "Thank you, Imperial Chef Yan."
Yan Langqing slowly rolls up her sleeves and says, "Then let's start now?"
"Okay, but before that, I have to specify the shape and the size of zongzi. Do you have any opinion?" Lin Dan takes out three pieces of bamboo leaves, rolls them into a cone, put some glutinous rice on them, and ties them with ropes, and motions, "Can you make the same shape and size?"
This request is really a bit strange, but Yan Langqing doesn't think much of it and nods, "Yes." She immediately wraps a piece of identical triangular zongzi and hands it to Lin Dan for examination.
Lin Dan unties the two pieces of zongzi and puts the glutinous rice back, smiling, "Then we can start."
Each of them occupies a hearth and gets busy. Yan Langqing soaks the glutinous rice first, then cuts the streaky pork into thin slices and pickles it with seasonings such as soy sauce, fine salt, white sugar, peanut oil, etc. When she looks up, she finds Lin Dan is making fire in the hearth, and neither the glutinous rice nor the pork has been cooked.
Without making zongzi, what is she doing by burning the stove at this time? She feels strange, can't help looking at her, just finds that Lin Dan is not using firewood, but using dried sesame asked specially from the imperial secretary, dried sesame are with many ripe sesame seeds, when burnt by the flame, there is crisp burning sound, and there is also a smell of unique burning aroma, extremely rich.
Yan Langqing involuntarily takes a deep breath, more curious in her heart.
Lin Dan doesn’t look at her. She just gathers the burnt sesame poles together, wraps them with thin silk cloth, puts them into cool boiled water and rubs them until the clear water is turned into muddy gray water. She then repeatedly filters them with thin silk cloth several times to make sure there is no residue. Only then does she soak the glutinous rice in.
After the white glutinous rice is soaked in the water, it is stained with a dirty color, and Yan Langqing's mind suddenly pops up with three words--a reckless waste! These zongzi are wrapped for several judges to eat. Isn't it too dirty to treat them like this? Her heart is full of confusion, but she is not good at asking and does not want to ask. This competition is related to her reputation, and she will not stop Lin Dan from seeking failure.
Lin Dan soaks glutinous rice and begins to treat pork. The condiments she chooses are similar to Yan Langqing’s, with only a slight difference in weight. When everything is ready, she begins to make zongzi. One can easily see that her method of wrapping zongzi is very sophisticated. Once her wrist is turned over, the leaves are rolled up. The bottom is padded with some glutinous rice, the middle is stuffed with a piece of meat, and the top is padded with some glutinous rice. And then the rice is compacted by her hands. She folds the leaves together, ties them with a rope, and finally puts a small knot on the end of the rope.
Yan Langqing also begins to make zongzi, the size and shape of which are exactly the same as Lin Dan's. After wrapping one, she throws it into the basin beside her and waits for it to be cooked.
From morning till afternoon, the two have wrapped up 50 catties of zongzi and put them in two barrels of the same size and shape. They have been already cooked and steamed. Before the judge begins, Lin Dan counts the number of zongzi, then walks to Yan Langqing's barrel and says slowly, "You and I will exchange positions."
Yan Langqing is full of doubts, but she also feels it is nothing, so she goes to Lin Dan’s barrel and stands still. Even if the exchange of positions, she also knows her barrel, can it be taken away by Lin Dan? No way.
Lin Dan invites all the guests, cups her hands and says, "Can you please bring two guards into the kitchen and exchange the position of the left and right barrels for as many times as you like? Of course, it's okay not to exchange. After one nobleman finish exchanging, another goes in to continue the exchange. After five rounds, no one is allowed to say how many times he has exchanged."
"What do you really want to do?" The emperor can’t understand Lin Dan's trick clearly. In theory, after the zongzi have been made, it is time to peel off a few and invite the judges to taste them, and then decide who to win or lose. But now, Lin Dan seems to be playing a game, and seems to be playing with everyone. How dare she?
"Your Majesty has promised that I will have the right to arrange this competition. Is this still the case?" Lin Dan doesn’t answer but asks question.
The emperor frowns and motions with his hand, "Five people, whoever, come out, go in and exchange the two barrels."
Tang Jiu, the Duke of Yunnan and Guizhou, Lord Cheng, Lord Gong and the Weiyuan Marquis immediately step forward.
Yan Langqing hesitates for a moment and doesn’t raise any objection after all. Although these people are all loyal supporters of Lin Dan, they are not judges and are not qualified to evaluate zongzi, which is not an obstacle to the competition. Lin Dan wants to confuse the two barrels of zongzi so that the judges can’t tell which is made by whom? It is indeed very clever, but she forgets that all the old chefs present here went out of the imperial kitchen and are very familiar with Yan Langqing's cooking skills. Some of them were specially invited by the emperor to teach her cooking skills and were regarded as half of her masters.
They won't be unable to tell who makes the two kinds of zongzi; what's more, Lin Dan treats the glutinous rice with such dirty methods that her zongzi can’t be possibly eatable. Yan Langqing is very skeptical about this and has already decided that she can win. Lin Dan was not as good as her ten years ago, and the same is true ten years later.
The emperor also gets Lin Dan's intention and shakes his head. This Shopkeeper Lin likes to play tricks, but she always fails to get to the point.
The five noblemen finish exchanging barrels, come out with depressed expressions. In their view, everything Lin Dan does is a dying struggle. The result has been doomed at the moment she received the challenge letter. There is no justice under power. She should understand this.
Lin Dan's expression is relaxed, she cups her hands and says, "The cooking part has already been completed. Next I will set the judging schedule. All of you here are inclined to be unfair, and in my opinion, you are not good judges. I would like to carry these two barrels of zongzi to the gate of the city, peel them apart and chop them up respectively, so that people entering the city can taste them, and then let them pick up a piece of zongzi to take away according to their preferences. Is it fair that the one whose zongzi can be eaten up wins? Don't worry, I made marks on the zongzi to tell which barrel belongs to whom, and I counted in advance. There are 400 pieces of zongzi in each barrel. The rest zongzi are put aside so that judges can judge the result conveniently. "