Chapter 65 – Rolling Cut

Tsuru: We have two chapter this time, and a little teaser. Ahahaha…but at least we get to see some cooking!

“Gan Chao Niu He[1]?”

When he saw his test question, Ye Chui was a little stunned. If his memory was correct. This dish appeared in his past life in the 1940s in Guangzhou. There was even rumours that the origin of this dish has something to do with a traitor of China… however, 40 years ago, this world was still under the throes of the Vegetarian Movement, so this dish shouldn’t exist.

However, Ye Chui merely shook his head and laughed. Though this world has many similarities with his previous world, it was inevitable that there should be differences as well. Who was to say that this dish has not been around even before the 1940s?

Gan Chao Niu He was a relatively simple dish, but it tested a chef’s knowledge of Guangzhou cuisine. In some areas, in order to check whether a restaurant is good or not, the best way was to taste their Gan Chao Niu He. Thanks to the Vegetarian Movement making meat poisonous, meat related recipes became lacking. Lines between different regions of food became blurry. Right now the Gan Chao Niu He was FFA’s most prized recipe, as well as the trickiest test question.

“Gan Chao Niu He?” At this time Sun Yi had leaned over his shoulder to exclaim, “Brother, you’re damned unlucky. I heard that not a single chef who got this recipe ever past. This is the most difficult dish of them all.”

Ye Chui really had nothing to say to this except, “…yeah.”

“Hei, hei, guess what test question I gotten?” Sun Yi gave a cheeky smile, without waiting for Ye Chui’s answer he declared, “Sweet and Sour Stem Lettuce[2], this dish is super simple. I’ll soon be done.”

“Haha, is that so?”

Though Ye Chui’s mouth laughed, his eyes remained solemn. Though Sweet and Sour Stem Lettuce was not too difficult, this was still an exam. The common household style of making Sweet and Sour Stem Lettuce would not be acceptable. This dish would showcase a chef’s knife work best.

He did not continue to talk with Sun Yi, but have begun preparations for his own exam.

To make Gan Chao Niu He, it’s unique ingredient was clearly beef. Though a lot of recipes were lost during the Vegetarian Movements, some have merely been modified. The Gan Chao Niu He was one of them. Since beef can’t be used, it was usually replaced with a meat substitute, like the five spiced wheat gluten.

Since it has ‘Rice Noodles’ or ‘He’ in its name, the other main character would be the wide and flat rice noodles. Thus, even though the flavour might be slightly inferior with the replacement of wheat gluten, it’s still a very tasty recipe.

As for the name Gan Chao Niu He of this world, a new origin story was given. Rumour has it that in Guangdong province, there was a place called Niu He village which specialized in delicious Gan Chao Niu He, and that was how this dish got its name…

Naturally, this was all rumour, rumours which Ye Chui did not actually know right now. Once he had the exam question, he spent some time arranging his thoughts before going after the ingredients.

There were no written test in this exam. Ingredient selection would be part of the test. Right now Ye Chui had no idea what the common practice was for the Gan Chao Niu He in this world, but knew how to make use of the best ingredients available in order to bring out the best tasting dish. Thus, he decided to just cook up this dish the best way he knew.

The best thing about this exam was that candidates could make small changes to the original recipe as long as the end result was delicious enough to satisfy the judges. After all, all chefs have their own unique styles and in fact judges would only award 8 points maximum for candidates who stuck to the recipe, and only those who added their own touches would have the chance to reach 10 points.

Though the main ingredients were beef and rice noodles, other ingredients could not be looked down, ingredients like leek, scallion, garlic, ginger, onions etc. The other thing one has to pay attention to was the cut of the beef, it has to be chewy yet flavourful, this means the rump would be the best choice. Luckily the exam hall preparation was pretty thorough and there were several different cuts of beef available.

After picking out the suitable ingredients, the first thing Ye Chui did was to soak the rice noodles. There’s a reason for doing this, the rice noodles must be soaked in cold water, if hot water was used the noodles would ended up being too soft. Once soaked, and properly rinsed, the rice noodles could be easily stir fried. Next was the beef, which has to be finely sliced following the grain of the meat, this would test a chef’s knife work. The best result would be to have the beef strips perfectly sliced into the exact size and thickness.

One the beef strips have been prepared, he started on the shallots, scallions and other side ingredients. Once that was done, all Ye Chui had to do now was to check the status of the rice noodles to test its firmness. Since he could not rush this waiting period, he had the leisure time to look over at Sun Yi’s work table, and had to stifle a laughe — this kid like to talk big about his own ability, but his handiwork still needs to work on his skill. He smiled and said in a ‘reminding you’ voice, “You really shouldn’t cut the stems like that for Sweet and Sour Stem Lettuce.”

“Not cut this way?” Sun Yi had just cut a stem lettuce into fine strips and looked up at Ye Chui in surprise, “If not like this, then how?”

“For this dish, you have to use the rolling cut,” Ye Chui told him in a low voice.

Sun Yi’s face suddenly slackened into a stupid look, “Rolling cut? What’s the rolling cut?”

Ye Chui, “… …”

Rolling cut was one of the most basic knife work, but this child have never even heard of it! Ye Chui reminded himself that this Sun Yi was mostly self-taught at some large restaurants, so he may not have gone through proper training. His knowledge may not have been systematically taught. Ye Chui had no intention of assisting this kid at all but, when he thought about this child’s prideful attitude just now, he had some need to at least demonstrate the technique to the child — perhaps he could just chalk this as some hormonal impulse in from youthful body?

“The rolling cut is to continuously cut the ingredients while rolling it…” As he spoke, Ye Chui already grabbed hold of one of Sun Yi’s stem lettuce and was [dong dong dong] cutting it as he continued to speak, his hands moving rapidly. When the cut stem lettuce slices were placed on a plate, one could see that every piece was exactly the same in terms of thickness and shape. More importantly the cut side was smooth, and the delicate curve of the stem lettuce maintained. It was fine showcase of perfect knife skill.

Sun Yu was shocked, to think that he had treated this Ye Chui as a little brother, his face grew scarlet Quite a bit of his self-confidence took a blow. His gaze on Ye Chui was different, filled with unspoken respect. When he finally grew conscious of himself, he quickly took on of the stem lettuce and began to imitate the way Ye Chui had cut it. However, how could one just learn a skill like that within a few minutes?

All the cheerfulness within Sun Yi was gone, sweat beaded on his forehead. No matter how he cut, hie technique seemed to grow worse and worse. About this time, his eyes suddenly fell on the perfectly sliced stem lettuces on a plate at Ye Chui’s work station. They were right next to each other, the plate of sliced stem lettuce between them. All three invigilators were quite far away. In a flash, Sun Yi moved the plate over to his side of the work station.

Ye Chui was now heating up his wok, his entire focus in the stove and had not seen Sun Yi’s little move.

However, Zhao Hongyu who had been keeping an eye on Ye Chui all this while from the viewing room had seen Sun Yi steal the plate of sliced stem lettuce…

Ye Chui began cooking.

To make Gan Chao Niu He, temperature control was crucial. The oil used cannot not be too much, or the end result will be too greasy, too little and the result would be a blackened char. Each strand of rice noodle had to be evenly cooked, too much soy sauce would result in a heavy flavour. The beef had to be cooked with very hot oil until it was 60% done, this will ensure that the meat was fragrant, tender, slightly slippery, neither oily nor greasy.

When the fried noodles are plated, there should be no excess oil or soy sauce dripping on the plate, hence the word ‘Gan’ or ‘Dry’ in this dish’s name. The end result was not at all greasy when eaten, and this, was the highest state of achievement for Gan Chao Niu He.

[Huo—-]

The roar of flame could be heard coming from the stove, Ye Chui held the wok with one hand and a spatula in the other. As he rolled the wok with one hand, the [guang guang] sound of the spatula hitting the wok was heard as ingredients flew to the air in an arch. Rice noodles flipped and tossed rhythmically with superb skills, like some sort of exotic show, attracting the eyes of those around him. Even the three judges were soon drawn in by this scene…

[1] Gan Chao Niue He – the English term for this dish is Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Beef. You can Google it for actual recipe!

 

Niu He means Cow River, the direct interpretation of Gan Chao Niu He is ‘Dry Fried Cow River’, The ‘he’ or river, represents the flat and wide rice noodles, which looked a lot like a wavy stream or river…

 

[2] Sweet and Sour Chinese Stem Lettuce

Raw Stem Lettuce

Finely Cut Stem Lettuce- As demonstrated by Sun Yi

Rolling Cut Stem Lettuce- As demonstrated by Ye Chui – An actual recipe translated by yours truly will be posted soon!

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