Kitchen Xiuzhen, Chapter 68 – Another Magical Effect of Salt!

 

 

“Roasted Venison Congee?”

Wang Xi was a little shocked, next to him, the other chefs also had odd looks on their faces.

Everyone in the same line of business knew that when it came to roasting venison, Wang Xi… was the undisputed expert among them.

“Oh ho, Young Manager Luo, so you intend to challenge me?”

Wang Xi said with a smile, “Then I shall prepare myself to observe your technique!”

“This meat has been roasted once already, if you cook it too many times, it will become tough!”

“Moreover, you’ve sliced it into pieces, so it’s no longer whole…”

As Wang Xi had said, since it had cooled down, quite a bit of the venison’s spiritual energy had been lost…

It had turned into a completely ordinary piece of meat.

“Since it’s already been cooked once, if you roast it again, the taste… would not be too good, ba?”

“That’s right, this youngster, why did he bring out a cooked piece of venison?”

“So curious.”

The people around Luo Xiu all stared at the meat in his hand, it was clearly a cooked piece of venison.

“Do you all really think I wish to grill an already cooked piece of meat?”

Luo Xiu muttered in his heart, shouldn’t you just blame your own precious kid for not having enough skill!?

Whatever, leaving the people around him to speculate over his actions, Luo Xiu proceeded to the main table and took out a few Whisker Flower Fruits.

These whisker flower fruits were the fruits of the whisker flower grass, Luo Xiu had checked its taste and found that its flavour was similar to earth’s pepper. Looks like he can just think of them as this Gourmet World’s Pepper.

[Shua!]

The fruits were scattered into a specially made stone bowl and Luo Xiu began to crush these fruits into powder.

Once crushed, they looked no different from actual ground pepper.

The effects of this ‘ground pepper’ was much more powerful than whisker flower grass which was normally used to flavour soups. To use the grass version for both regular cooking and barbecue was just too amateurish, pepper would be more useful for high flame cooking.

“Is that ground whisker flower fruit? The flavour should be too strong, ba?”

“That’s right, it really stings the nose. It has none of the refreshing characteristics of whisker flower grass…”

“If he grills it like this, wouldn’t it just choke the nose?”

The school of spiritual chefs gathered round Luo Xiu, whispering among themselves as they watch him pound the whisker flower fruits.

As for Wang Xi, he merely stood on the side as he watched the cooking process with an unfathomable look in his eye.

Luo Xiu soon managed to create a small pile of ‘pepper powder’. Then, he took out a spice that looked like tiny umbrellas with long stem called ‘Fragrant Umbrella Fruits’.

[Ka cha!]

Luo Xiu pounded this spice too… this time, some of the people around him nodded slightly to themselves.

Fragrant umbrella fruit was a rather popular spice for large pieces of meats, it had a rather pungent fragrance… it’s powdered version was rather strong, a common spice used in the Country of Fine Cuisine.

There’s a version of this spice on earth.

Fennel seeds!

A certain unique property of the fennel seed is that when it’s ground into powder, it’s known by a common name of — cumin!*

*Wrong fact alert![1]

That morning, Luo Xiu had spent some time tasting and testing the spices in the walk in spice cupboard and found plenty spices that were similar to those found on earth. For example, these fragrant umbrella fruits, whisker flower grass, rosemary etc.

The rosemary here actually tasted like mint, and matsutake has a pungency that’s close to mustard or wasabi (or garlic…)!

He had to admit that the use spices of the Country of Fine Cuisine was something that was really popular. Thanks to these spices, the chefs of this world could create delicious food with strong fragrances that really hooks the appetite.

Able to amplify spiritual energy as well as deliciousness… a truly powerful combo.

This world certainly has the advantage when it came to spices.

On earth, the use of spices has advanced into scientific realm[2], taking into consideration freshness, water content, soil ratio and more… however, the use of spices still depended heavily upon the chef’s experience.

There are certainly merits and demerits for both experience and scientific studies.

As for Luo Xiu, he was proficient in the science of spices, backed up by ample cooking experience. Therefore, he was able to combine both techniques and became the best chef on earth!

… …

With a variety of specially prepared spices in front of him, Luo Xiu finally rolled up his sleeves and began the cooking process.

[Pa! Pa! Pa!]

Neatly sliced strips of venison were arranged in front of him.

Luo Xiu picked up the table salt first, and sprinkled it over the meat.

Eyes of the spiritual chefs in front of him grew wide, “Yi? What is that?”

“Salt!”

Wang Xi stood up at this. With a smile, he began to explain, “This is a new spice created by Manager Luo. However, this spice has no fragrance to it, only a salty flavour. In fact, you could say that it’s ultimate saltiness!”

“Ultimate saltiness? How would you even eat that?”

The people were quite flabbergasted.

Wang Xi watched as Luo Xiu rubbed and rolled the meat, smearing the whole thing with salt. He’d also set out three different seasoning in front of the spiritual chefs.

“Please try these, the flavours are quite unique!”

Set on the table were salt, MSG, and crystallized Insect Nectar, Wang Xi took it upon himself to hand out samples to the general audience.

At this, the group of chefs gathered in the restaurant suddenly became rowdy again.

“Pei! It’s so salty, ah…”

“To think this small bit of thing could be so sweet, delicious!”

“So interesting, to think… that such concentration of flavour could be found. Just how is it made?”

They all stared at Wang Xi who smiled smugly at them, “Interesting, right? When I tried it the first time I was surprised too. When it is dissolved into water, the saltiness actually decreases, in fact… there’s a sweet after taste following the salty flavour. It really soothes the body!”

“That’s right, that’s right, I felt this too!”

“This kind of spice is just too amazing!”

“Isn’t the flavour incredibly pure?”

The praises from the spiritual chefs were endless. However, there was one chef who kept watching Luo Xiu as he kneaded the salt into the meat, before finally bursting out, “If you continue to scatter the salt over the meat like this without water, wouldn’t the meat ended up too salty?!”

“No, it won’t. Because… I’m marinating!”

Luo Xiu tossed out this mysterious phrase without looking up.

“Marinating?”

Everyone looked at each other, stupefied, just what is marinating?!

Salt stimulates one of the basic five senses on the human tongue.

However, aside from its use as a seasoning, there was another thing salt is used for by the ancient Chinese — Food processing[3]!

Before cooking, the salted meat would be rinsed in water to get rid of the excess salt and to moisten the meat. This is to ensure that the meat stays juicy during the cooking process.

Salt has the ability to extract moisture from foodstuff through a process called osmosis.

“Do you guys sweat?”

Luo Xiu suddenly asked as he looked up.

He had already covered the pieces of meat with salt, they could see moisture starting to bead up on the meat and pooled on the plate.

After letting the meat sit around for a bit, he will later cover it in pepper. So, he had time to chat with this spiritual chef and explain the process of pickling.

“Sweat? Of course, I sweat…”

At the chef’s word, Luo Xiu nodded, “Then, do you absorb sweat?”

“Absorb sweat?”

“When a body cooled down, sweat would be absorbed into the skin, right?”

“Yes, that’s right!”

“If your body absorbs sweat, do you feel anything odd or out of place? Actually, sweat can easily penetrates through the skin into the muscles and even the organs. This is call water retention!”

When Luo Xiu rubbed salt onto the meat, he was actually trying to stimulate this process. To draw out the water by making the meat ‘sweat’ out excess water, which mixes with the salt and then reabsorbed into the meat to create better texture and taste[4].

When a human being absorbs salt, the effect is the same. It is to balance the electrolytes within the body… the concept is the same!

“Next, we shall rub in the pepper!”

Actually, if Luo Xiu had been on earth, he would have rubbed in both salt and pepper at the same time… in order to achieve the best flavour.

However, this world did not actually have pepper. So he could only split the task by first salting the meat before applying the local equivalent of ‘pepper’ in order to achieve the same result.

Water retention?

Salt… could actually do this?!

 

 

 

[1] fennel vs cumin – These are completely two different plants by the way. Ground fennel becomes… ground fennel, it doesn’t turn into a different herb. Please get the facts right… I’m suffering from second hand embarrassment here.

https://www.difference.wiki/cumin-vs-fennel/

[2] Science of Spices – It’s a real thing!

Check it out here

 

[3] Salt for food processing – It’s kind of weird that this place doesn’t have salt, especially since they are next to the sea… anyway, here’s a link to the history of salt.

 

[4] The art of salting, it’s actually quite interesting. I’m going to try making bacon one of these days…

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/5681-salting-meat

 

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