Lin Dan soaks a basin of Jew’s ear picked from cliffs with crude salt again, and asks the assistant chef to continue to soak the rest of the dry goods according to her own method. And then she turns around and looks at the little cook, slowly says, "For your sincere apology, I will teach you a special dish."
"Really, what did you say?" The little cook who is dumb-struck with amazement looks at Lin Dan, extremely suspecting that he has misheard. It’s been extremely good that Shopkeeper Lin is willing to teach him some secret methods of handling food materials. Why will she teach him special dishes? Aren’t special dishes the trump cards of one cook? How can she show it so easily?
"You heard me right. I'll teach you a special dish. You must watch carefully." Lin Dan says as she fishes out a big live carp from the barrel and puts it on a chopping board to make it dizzy by beating at it.
Brother Tang glances at her and then at the little dumb-struck cook. His eyes flash a light of interest.
"Shopkeeper Lin, please wait, I'll get pen and paper!" Seeing Lin Dan's posture is not like a joke, the little cook hurriedly runs to the front hall and takes a stack of paper and a writing brush made of weasel's hair. He immediately writes the skill down--a big carp of the yellow river, weighing 3 to 4 catties...
"Have you written it down?" Lin Dan, with a kitchen knife in one hand and a big carp in the other, grins and waits for the little cook. She likes people who are diligent and studious. It doesn't matter if they are stupid.
"Yes, yes, Shopkeeper Lin, please continue!" The little cook bows respectfully. The old shopkeeper has already had a completely new appraisal of Lin Dan. Now he has crowded around Brother Tang and looked at the chopping board with keen eyes.
Lin Dan continues, "I have eaten the new dish called Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish from the Yans’ Restaurant. It tastes sweet, sour, tender and smooth. It is really good. The dish I teach you has a better taste than that of the Yans’. It is also sour and sweet cuisine and it is called Golden Lion Fish. "
The Yans’ new dish called Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish is in a squirrel shape, and the new dish Lin Dan teaches is lion-shaped, lion vs. squirrel, Lin Dan, are you sure you are not here to challenge the Yans? The little cook's head is full of fancies, but soon Lin Dan's extraordinary knife skill let him forget everything. Lin Dan slits the fish and cleans the guts out quickly, slices the fish on both sides into thin slices, cuts the fish from the tail to the head, and cuts the fish into 18 pieces on each side. Every cut is smooth and so proper in strength that the fish meat is connected even it is cut. She cuts a big carp into a lotus bud and lifts the fish tail to shake it. The white "petals" are in full bloom layer by layer. It is really beautiful.
The little cook thinks originally the knife skill is great enough, he doesn’t expect Lin Dan to take out scissors and cut the petal-like fish slices into fine and long shreds, cutting each slice into six to seven shreds and stacking them again. A fish bone is covered with fine and long shreds of fish meat from the head to the tail. This shape alone is peculiar enough. The fish has been cut so finely, what should the cook do when cooking? Is the cook sure they won't be crushed to paste by a spoon?
The little cook is worried in his heart as he records the process; he sees that Lin Dan begins to make egg paste. Six eggs, half a catty of water starch and four liangs (a unit of weight, 1 liang equals to 50 grams) of flour are mixed, and a proper amount of water is added to blend into a thick golden paste. It can be held a little with a hand and also can be pulled out some silk threads.
"When making the egg paste, only the yolk is used, not the albumen, so the color is good. Starch must be water starch, not dry starch, otherwise fish will have glitches, and water starch can ensure the taste more delicate and tender." After saying In brief, Lin Dan squeezes the fish head with one hand and the fish tail with the other. She puts the chrysanthemum-like fish into the egg paste and soaks it evenly. When she lifts it up again, all the fish shreds are stuck together one by one, dripping with egg liquid. The appearance of the fish is not good. However, after being fried in the pot, all the fish shreds are scattered and they stand up one by one, they together look really like a golden lion.
The little cook and the old shopkeeper marvel at the skill, Lin Dan slowly explains, "When the fish shreds are all immersed in oil, you have to shake three times to spread the fish shreds one by one. After shaking, the head of the fish is pulled down and the tail of the fish is lifted slightly, so that the fish shreds are held close to the head in a golden lion shape. This is the key to the lion shape. After the fish is put into the pot, the oil temperature will be lowered, and when it is 60% hot, the fire needs to be changed into big fire, and the fish will be quickly fried with hot oil, so that the fish can be shaped. At this time, you can put the whole fish in, fry the fish head and tail, turn the fish over with a colander, and continue to fry for a while, and then you can fish out and pour the sauce. "
Although Lin Dan says it easily, it is actually very difficult to do it. Simply changing the fish slices into shreds has already tested the knife skill, not to mention the later pasting and frying. Seasoning has instead become the simplest procedure. When frying, the chef's hands should firmly hold the fish head and tail, and tightly stick to the boiling oil surface, so that all the fish meat shreds can be soaked in hot oil and fried thoroughly and shaped. This high temperature can burn off a layer of skin on one’s hands. If the whole fish is thrown into the pot before the fish shreds are fried well, the dish will be destroyed.
The little cook looks carefully at Shopkeeper Lin's hands and finds a thick layer of calluses on her fingertips. It is a real skill that has been developed after enduring countless high-temperature frying. She gently shakes the fish shreds; her face is not painful, but full of patience and concentration.
After throwing the whole fish into the pot, she talks to the little cook, and takes out another clean pot and pours a little rape oil, "When the fish is fried to golden yellow, take it out, put the fish belly down on the plate, and I'll make the sauce." While speaking, the oil in the pot is already hot. She conveniently crushes a lime and a persimmon with her hands, grinds them into foam with a large spoon, adds white sugar, white vinegar and clear water, boils them into thick sweet and sour sauce, thickens them, and pours them on the fluffy and crispy fish shreds. The dish of Golden Lion Fish is ready.
The sweet and sour aroma pours into noses instantly, making people involuntarily secrete a lot of saliva. This dish is not only overbearing in flavor, but also extremely overbearing in appearance. It is like a lion with a messy mane, giving a feeling of bared teeth and claws.
"Wow, it smells very good!" The little cook gulps saliva.
"Can I try it?" Brother Tang stares at Lin Dan with burning eyes. He has always been very reserved, and only when he sees delicious food can he show a little strong and greedy nature.
"Sure." Lin Dan picks up a towel to wipe the sweat.
The little cook and Brother Tang immediately pick up chopsticks and prepare to lay hands on the Golden Lion Fish. But the old shopkeeper who they don’t know when he runs out rushes in rashly and says hurriedly, "No eating, no eating! Lord Cheng is here. He wants to eat the dish you just cooked. Move, move, waiter, bring this dish out quickly; don't keep his royal highness waiting! "
The waiter goes through Brother Tang's armpit, takes the plate and runs.
Lin Dan has been immersed in cooking and doesn’t know that the taste of her sauce has spread to the street through windows. Like the Yongding Marquis, this Lord Cheng is also a famous gourmet in the capital. His greatest hobby is to taste delicious food. He is a frequent visitor to the Qiaoyuan Restaurant. However, when the father of the little cook dies, he comes less.
This day he originally plans to go to the Yans’ Restaurant for lunch. When he passes by the Qiaoyuan Restaurant, his servant receives the benefits from the old shopkeeper. It looks as if he has inadvertently mentioned that the Qiaoyuan Restaurant has brought in a new batch of top quality sea products and his royal highness can try some fresh ones.
Lord Cheng has a good friendship with the father of the little cook. He thinks to himself--I am going to eat as a favor to them. However, there is no expectation that another carriage comes next to his carriage. Lord Gong's head is sticking out of the carriage window. He laughs and says, "Brother, don't be fooled. I was tricked like this last month. After all, Qiu’s (the little cook) cooking skill is really not good. He can't make the top-grade seafood taste, his cooking is far worse than the Yans’ Restaurant!"
Lord Cheng glares at his servant and wants to leave, but suddenly he smells an unspeakable smell. It is sweet and sour, and after a while the smell is blended in with the freshness of fish and the mellow smell of grease. It is really aromatic!
"What is this smell? Tell me, what the smell is!” Lord Cheng gets up suddenly, His neck stretches out from the window and he sniffs around like a puppy.
The grinning Lord Gong can’t say a word. He quickly closes his mouth and swallows his saliva flowing like a stream.
"Lord, the aroma is coming from the Qiaoyuan Restaurant, perhaps Chef Qiu (the little cook) is cooking," says the long-suffering man, who is afraid of that receiving benefits from the Qiaoyuan Restaurant has been known.
"Go in and have a look!" Lord Cheng can’t sit still. He immediately jumps out of the carriage and runs into the store in three or two steps. He doesn’t see the shopkeeper coming to meet him. He can only shout loudly, "Waiter, where are the waiters? What kind of food is the cook cooking in the kitchen? Bring the dish to me, right now! "
Lord Cheng is greeted properly by the waiter, and then the waiter quickly runs to the kitchen to explain the situation to the old shopkeeper who protects the dish from being eaten by the little cook and Brother Tang, and the old shopkeeper hurries to the front hall.
Lord Gong has already lost confidence in the Qius’ cuisine (the family which runs the Qiaoyuan Restaurant, the little cook’s surname is Qiu). Originally he only wants to sit in the carriage and watches the scene of bustle, but he doesn't expect that he can't resist the smell when the dish is brought out. He quickly retracts his head and stands up and gets out of the carriage. However, his head hits the roof of the carriage because he is too eager, feeling a little bit dizzy. Finally he makes it; he gets to the table with his head covered by his hand. Looking at the dish, he is immediately stunned. Lord Cheng also opens his eyes wide with a surprised expression.
They originally think that the squirrel-shaped Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish in the Yans’ Restaurant has already been an excellent work of knife skill, shape, color and flavor. The fish breaks the myth of the Yans’ Restaurant immediately after it comes out.
The shreds of the fish meat stand upright and gather towards the fish head. The shape is very beautiful and unique. Chopsticks are used to puncture the crispy shell of the fish shreds to expose the white fish meat inside. Immediately, brilliant grease seeps out and merges with the red sticky soup. It is fresh, tender, crisp, sour and sweet. All kinds of flavors explode on the tip of the tongue. It is simply wonderful!
Lord Cheng carefully clips off a "lion hair", quickly puts it into his mouth, his eyes narrow immediately, and the wrinkle layers on his face stretch at a visible speed, he looks like several years younger.
"Is it delicious?" Lord Gong pulls his sleeve eagerly.
Lord Cheng ignores him and once again cuts off a "lion hair" to taste carefully. He shakes his head and smacks his lips. He deserves a good spanking for his complacent attitude.
"Hello, talk to me! Hello, don’t make me angry!" Lord Gong rolls up his sleeves and scolds, "Waiter, are you blind? Can’t you see I am here? Why don't you fetch me my bowl and chopsticks? Go and get the bowl and chopsticks, hurry up!" If the waiter doesn't bring him what the lord wants, the lord will have no regard for any royal manner and will have to eat with his hands!
The waiter fetches the lord a bowl and a pair of chopsticks in a great hurry. The two noble lords almost fight with each other for the dish on the table. They prevent each other from picking up the dish with chopsticks in their hands; neither of them wants to decline out of modesty. One of them shouts, "You are just the sixth son in our family, get the fuck out of here. This is the dish I order. It's not for you!"
"Brother, don’t be selfish! We are brothers; can’t you share only a dish with me? "
"You can order one dish if you want!"
"I have to wait half a day for another order, right? I can't wait when I smell your dish!"
Seeing this, the waiter has to rush back to the kitchen and he asks Shopkeeper Lin to make another Golden Lion Fish quickly, otherwise the two lords will really fight.
Lin Dan, not feeling flattered or nervous, slowly rolls up her sleeves and says slowly, "In that case, I will help you to the end today. When I show up, I show out."