Chapter 4 – Golden Beef Soup
Translated by Prosperous.com
Rehosted by Gumihou at kitchennovel.com
I have been in the capital for a few days. Wei Qi entered a school in the capital and prepare for the imperial examinations. As for the lady who I have saved, there is no word from her.
The days passed by quickly. I have eaten and dine well. I have explored and discovered. The money that I have was almost gone.
No, this cannot go on! If this continues, I will have no choice but to beg for food. The beggar sect may not even want a person like me.
Sigh~ I decided to go out and see if I can find a job.
I exited the inn and passed by the shop that I have eaten in on the first day I arrived in the capital.
To my surprise and delight, there is signboard indicating that they will be hiring. The signboard wrote: “Our shop will be hiring a kitchen hand. If you are interested, please go to the back door and queue up for an interview. Your salary and benefits are negotiable.
Wow wow wow! Look at this shop! It is simply different from the others. It wants to hire a low-level kitchen hand and even then, the kitchen hand must queue up for an interview? No way, I must take a look. Maybe the chef will accept me as his disciple.
I entered the shop and asked the waiter about the location of the back door and made a beeline towards it.
Then I was floored by what I have seen. Heavens! There are so many people competing with me for the post of a kitchen hand?
There is already a long queue of people who are waiting for their turn, and they have even queued up in 2 orderly rows.
I quickly joined the queue and asked the brother in front of me.
“Oh, big brother, may I inquire why there are so many people queuing here? This is just a job for a kitchen hand. Is it worth it for so many people to fight over this job? Don’t tell me that this job pays very well and you will be rich if you become a kitchen hand?”
“Brother, you are ill-informed. This [Ju Xiang Ge] Restaurant seldom has any openings for kitchen hands. There are only 2 kitchen hands right now. Everyone knows that this kitchen hand is not just a mere kitchen hand. It is helping the Great Chef, Lin Ziye. You will be his disciple, the disciple of the great chef Lin Ziye!”
That brother was more excited than I am. His eyes were glazing with golden light, and his saliva, along with his words, splattered everywhere.
I immediately stepped back to prevent the hail of saliva from landing on my face.
“So incredible arhhh? No wonder there are so many people. Then brother, do you know why they still have not selected anyone? After all, there are so many people here. Don’t tell me that none of them manages to catch the eye of Great Chef Lin?”
“Sigh~! It is really difficult to catch his eye. Chef Lin had 3 tests for any wannabe chefs. Most of the people could not pass the tests that he had set.
“Then do you know what will be tested?” I inquired.
“The first stage requires you cut a piece of tofu on a piece of glass. You are to cut the tofu without leaving a single scratch on the glass surface.”
“The second stage requires you to taste a combination of 10 random ingredients. You are to identify the name of all 10 ingredients.”
“The third stage is the hardest stage of all. You have but a mere 15 minutes to cook something for Chef Lin. Your dish must meet his approval.”
Hearing this, I finally understand why although there are so many people here, none of them managed to get the job yet.
The requirements are really high. It made me wonder if they are looking for a kitchen hand or an imperial chef? This is so scary~!
But I have practised hard, and I have the foundations of being an imperial chef.
I had read the cookbook that my late father used to store his recipes.
Therefore I am not scared. I am not scared. Papa, you who are in heaven, please give your daughter your blessings and let her get this job~ !
I began to pray silently in my heart.
Soon it is the turn of the brother in front of me. Unfortunately for him, he did not manage to last a few minutes and he left the room.
He was crestfallen, and when he reached the door, he broke out in sobs.
Oh~ This is the first time I saw a man crying that bitterly. This is really tough for him.
It is now my turn. I straighten my robes and walked towards the room.
The room is very big, and there is a stove there. There are many items used for the test, and two examiners sitting there, facing the door.
One of them is a girl of about fifteen or sixteen years old, wearing a light green shirt, with a melon child face. She is very beautiful, with a pair of clear eyes. Her eyes darted around me and she had an aura of a youthful and lively personality.
The other examiner is a young man about twenty years of age, dressed in black. He looks very calm compared to the girl next to him.
“Hello, my name is Song Xiran. I am here to apply for the job of kitchen hand.” I respectfully said.
“I think you know about our rules? You need to pass 3 tests before you can get the job. Are you ready to start?” The man in black calmly said.
“En, I know about it. I am ready to begin.”
“Behind you is a table. There are all the things that you need for your first examination. Once you are ready, you may begin. The time limit is one joss-stick.”
Then he lit the joss stick.
I took a deep breath.
First, I washed my hands. Then I washed the blade.
I use the knife skills that I have practised time and time again, and slowly cut the tofu into slices, and place them on the glass.
The next step is much harder. I used my finger to judge the width of each slice of tofu and balance it against the knife and cut very slowly.
Finally, I placed them into the water, and use the chopsticks to scatter them. The Tofu immediately dispersed into the water.
Each strand of tofu was as thick as a hair breathe, and the glass is intact.
I held my breath, and continued to hold the knife gently. My movements are natural as flowing water, and I complete the task in one shot.
In the span of 5 minutes, I completed the first task.
The young man in black looked at the threads of tofu, and he was surprised. He nodded his head and asked me to continue on to the second task.
I immediately walked to the second table where there are some seasonings in the bowl. I used a small spoon and placed a bit of these on my tongue.
“Fennel, star anise, pepper, Saussurea costus…”
The ten spices slowly appeared in my brain.
The examiner had already prepared some paper and a brush. I wrote down the answer as I think about them.
When I have finished writing all 10 spices, I took the piece of paper to the young man in the black shirt.
When they read what I have written, they were even more surprised than when I passed the first stage. The young man in the black robe looked at me with eyes full of praise.
10 spices. I have correctly identified all 10 spices!
Phew~! I heaved a sigh of relief.
Luckily I have often cooked in secret using the cook book, and I have tasted all kinds of strange stuff. After cooking it, I do not have anyone to share the food I cooked with, so I have no choice but to be my own laboratory mice.
It is a stroke of luck that I did not poison myself to death. Instead, I end up with a sensitive tongue. My knife skills were also trained when I practised cooking accordingly to the recipe in my dad’s cookbook.
The last stage. I must do my best! Pass or Fail depends on this stage!
I looked at the stove and ingredients. Since there is a time limit, there is a limited number of dishes that I may cook.
To be frank, I only know how to cook this one dish. The rest of my experiments are either failures or I could not replicate the same taste every time I cook it.
But there is such an idiom – One dish is enough if you are good at it.
“I decided to cook the golden soup with beef slices.”
I informed them.
Immediately after picking up a golden needle mushroom, I cleaned it and used the knife to slice it. Then the mushroom head is removed.
After that, I skillfully sliced the ginger, garlic, chilli pepper, etc. into small pieces.
Furthermore, I cut the yellow bell peppers and sour radish.
At this point, I poured some clean water in the pan at the fastest speed, adding a little oil until the water boils.
I picked up golden mushroom that I have prepared earlier and added them to boiling water.
Next, I removed the mushroom and lay it on the bottom of a bowl. I poured the mushroom soup into a separate bowl. This will be used later.
After that, I turned the fire to high and used a wok to heat up some oil.
Then I add the ginger and onions that I had diced into the wok, until the smell is fragrant.
After which, I added the sour radishes and yellow bell peppers and stir-fry them until fragrant.
Under the heat of the flames, the ingredients begin to leak out a yellowish oil. I immediately pour the broth that was used to boil the mushroom into the wok.
Added 2 spoonfuls of salt, 1 spoonful of sugar and 1 spoonful of cooking wine.
After the dish was boiling, a mouth-watering aroma whiffed out. I used the spoon to get rid of any foam.
Next, I added the slices of marbled beef and cooked until the beef is tender.
Then I add a bit of vinegar for seasoning.
Finally, the placed the tender beef slices on top of the bowl containing the mushroom.
And pour the soup into the bowl.
Oh yes, I sprinkled some slices of red and green chilli on top so that looks good.
And poured the hot oil that was used to cook the beef on the soup.
With the infusion of the hot oil, the bits of chilli on top seemed to explode and release its spicy flavour into the spoon.
A bowl of sour and spicy golden soup with beef is hence completed.
At this time, the whole room was filled with a spicy fragrance of the soup. This aroma whets one’s appetite and made them crave for the soup.
I pass the bowl to them, after adding some vegetables to beautify the appearance of the dish.
The man in black robes took the bowl and entered an inner room.
Leaving me standing outside, waiting for the final verdict.
In a short while, the man in the black robes came out, and still look as calm as ever.
“Congratulations, Song Xiran! Chef Lin says that he loves your golden soup with beef! You have passed the test! Welcome to the team. From now on, you may treat the [Ju Xiang Ge] restaurant as your house. We will take care of one another, just like we take care of our family.”
After saying this, the young man in the black robe finally smiled.
He then pulled the girl next to him and introduced themselves.
“That’s right. I almost forgot to introduce us. My name is Xu Mo. I just performed a Crown ceremony . This is my sister Xu Ting’er, she is 18 . Thanks to Chef Lin’s adopting us, we brother and sister can make a living.”
“I am like my name (默 Mo means quiet) and do not talk a lot. Therefore, Xiran, do not be offended.”
I immediately tried to build good relations. They are, after all, my senior brother and sister. “Brother Xu, there is no need to stand on ceremony. From now on, we will be staying together. If I do something wrong, or failed to meet your expectations in future, please forgive me and guide me.”
The girl named Ting’er looked at me with a sweet smiled. And the way she looked at me is different from the way she looked at other people.
“Then brother Xiran, in future, we are one family!” She excitedly proclaimed.
Saying these, they went out to disperse the rest of the people who were still waiting for their turn to be interviewed. At the same time, they asked me to pack up and move in tomorrow morning.
I was very happy. At least I can earn a living. The problem of where to stay and what to eat is settled. Even better, I got a teacher who will teach me how to cook.
Oh, life is beautiful!
Notes Crown Ceremony is held on the 20th birthday of a man. So what Xu Mo means, is that he is 20 years old.
 The raw says she is 28, but I think it is a mistake. His sister is younger than him and he is 20 years old. So she should be 18. Perhaps other chapters will give a clue.