Chapter 94: Huge Success
Translated by Gumihou
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com
The little marquis leaned his bottom against the stove, huffed and puffed as he laboured over the pot. In fact, one could even say that he’s working hard without complaining. He did such a good job that Su Nuan Nuan could not help but be suspicious. She shoved a chair over, forced him to sit, saying, “Sit down here, how about we taste test it now? If it’s good, we can make more.”
“It’s definitely going to be delicious.” When it came to the happiness of his mouth, the little marquis did not slack off. There were only the two of them in the kitchen, so Su Nuan Nuan felt free to say, “I see that the emperor and the crown prince both love meat. Could it be that these two can’t bear a meal without meat?”
Duan Tingxuan said, “Of course? Not only the emperor and crown prince, everyone in the palace love meat. However, none of them were as fierce as those two, especially that crown prince. You can tell just from his body. He became like this from eating lots of sweets and meat as a child. He used to be very weak and did not practice martial arts either. After a while, he turned into that.”
As he said this, his hands paused, and worry crossed his expression. “You’ve seen it too, right? After walking that bit of road, he got out of breath almost immediately and could hardly say anything. I also heard that he was hit by heatstroke a few days ago. That man is highly intelligent and personable, his character is impeccable and he has a good heart… It’s just too bad that his body is… I’m worried that he won’t live very long because of this.”
“Then, why don’t you put him on a diet? From what I can see, it’s just a problem of habit.” Su Nuan Nuan was musing over this matter out loud when Duan Tingxuan said curiously, “A diet? What’s that?”
“A technique to lose excess fat and restore his body to a more natural shape. Nothing like your slim self of course, but at the very least he should look like a regular person, right? It’s fine if he’s a bit plump, but if we don’t get rid of those excess fat now while he’s young; in a few more years, even if we did get him to slim down, he’ll look terrible with ugly excess skin.”
Duan Tingxuan gave a bitter smile, “What’s all that about ugly excess skin? It’s fine as long as he could thin down. Anything is good. Do you have a way? He definitely can’t let go of meat or sweets; just a bit of extra movement made him gasp like he’s dying. Moreover, he’s the crown prince, if something were to happen to him… also, who could force him?”
“Even you can’t?” Su Nuan Nuan was truly curious now: After all that ribbing and bullying she had seen at the palace, she really didn’t believe it if he said he couldn’t take up this responsibility.
Another bitter smiled slashed Duan Tingxuan’s face, “Who do you think I am? I have no time to discipline the crown prince. My job is to carry out his instructions outside the palace. If I were to watch over his progress, who would carry out the duties outside? If I don’t look after things personally, who would supervise matters? Even the emperor’s most trusted eunuch’s dare not carry this responsibility.”
Su Nuan Nuan nodded, and said in a low voice, “I’ve also noticed, aside from that soup, the emperor only ate the Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs, Cherry Blossom Pork, and Sweet &Sour Pork Strips . His chopsticks never touched anything that looked remotely like a vegetable. After his meal he only had half a cup of tea. I feel that there’s something not quite right with the dishes in the palace, how could they live off such oily and fatty food everyday? Didn’t the imperial physician said he suffered from weak heart? That he had to eat lighter food?”
“The imperial physician said that? Heheh, that’s just some empty words. Eat lighter food, get proper nutrition, anyone could say these words. Why would the emperor care what they say?” Duan Tingxuan sneered, but then he blinked and turned to Su Nuan Nuan. “Wait, Nuan Nuan, are you saying that the emperor’s heart condition is connected to his food?”
Su Nuan Nuan smiled, “It’s entirely possible that the imperial physicians was just giving some empty talk. But this time I do believe they are right. I remember reading about this in a book somewhere. People who ate nothing but meat and fish everyday suffer from all kinds of diseases. Just take a look around you, don’t you think people from noble houses never seemed to live very long compared the the commoners who lived a moderate life? Most living up to 80 years old?”
At this, Duan Tingxuan’s face grew solemn. His hands continued to stir the milk mixture when a sudden thought occurred to him. Didn’t his imperial aunt say that the previous generation emperor and empress also love fatty meat? She even said that it’s part of the imperial family characteristic. It seems like several generations of the emperors all died young, could this be the reason?
“Then, what should we do?”
Duan Tingxuan had absolute trust in Su Nuan Nuan, and did not hesitate to ask for her opinion. But, Su Nuan Nuan only said, “How should I know? It should be fine as long as they eat less meat and take more vegetable, ah. Things like mushrooms and bamboo shoots are fine too. They’ll be fine as long as they are not too picky about their food.”
“This is the big problem, ah.” Duan Tingxuan smiled bitterly. Su Nuan Nuan countered with, “Surely it won’t be a problem for you? You get along with them quite well, so well in fact that I almost got a heart attack from it.”
When she said this, Duan Tingxuan suddenly remarked, “By the way, you’ve never hesitated to yell at me when you saw me stealing food. But why do you never say anything when the princes stole food? I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I entered the kitchen. Were they really three princes? It was like watching a bunch of feasting locust.”
“Don’t say locust, even if they were feasting leeches, they’re still royalty. One of them an actual crown prince. If, I, the mere wife of somebody, were to step in… well, let’s just say I’m not bored with life yet.” Su Nuan Nuan flapped her fan vigorously, “You’re the untouchable popular guy, not me.”
Duan Tingxuan blinked, then began to laugh heartily. He shook his head, “Heheh, are you for real? Though you appeared intelligent, you do have your cute moments. Have you really not noticed the emperor and empress attitude towards you? The gathering that day was nothing less than a little family gathering. Have you really not seen how all social ranking and formalities had been disregarded? The emperor addressed me as Tingxuan, and you as Dear Tingxuan’s wife. As for the princes, have you not seen them do their best to bargain with me for your favours? If I truly had any hesitation about their true intentions, would I dare act so casually with them?”
“But, traditionally a royal family only has rulers and subordinates, with little to no familial kinship, right? Isn’t our emperor too unusual in this?” Su Nuan Nuan cried desperately. She really couldn’t take it anymore, this imperial family was just too weird: What nonsense is this? History has already proven that though people at the peak of power often lamented about their loneliness and how they want people to treat them like ordinary people, these people were just being smug boasters. What being treated like ordinary people? If they don’t want to be treated like kings they wouldn’t have climbed so high up. If you truly believe this ridiculous statement, you’re not far from death.
“Wu! His majesty is certainly unique. During court session and meetings in his study, he is our honourable monarch, but when he’s at the inner court, he’s just a regular husband and father, and my uncle of course. Didn’t you noticed that I didn’t actually kneel down?”
Duan Tingxuan continued to smile, his manner clearly show admiration towards his emperor. Then, his gaze moved towards the milk he was stirring, it seemed to have firmed up and lumps of fat had appeared. He called out, “Yi? Nuan Nuan, look! Is it done?”
“En, just about, continue to put your back into it.” Su Nuan Nuan said carelessly as she eyed the mixture. Her mind was still on the shocking description about the royal family. In fact, she felt that she might actually be able to get along with this kind of emperor. It was kind of wonderful to be in a noisy, heart warming family gathering, the emperor’s next-door-uncle’s nosy behaviour was especially endearing.
Duan Tingxuan put his back into his work for a few more minutes. He only stopped when Su Nuan Nuan said ‘That’s enough’. He wiped the sweat off his forehead with his sleeves and took a closer look at the fatty lumps. Could this be the lauded cream thing? His eyes brightened and he grabbed one of the lumpy pieces with a pair of chopsticks and placed them in his mouth. His movements were quick, obviously premeditated. Greedy as he was, Duan Tingxuan was quick to shove a large piece of the cream thing into his mouth before his wife could stop him.
Nom, nom, nom. Sweet, fragrant and full bodied, but somehow it did seem to worth all the ravings Su Nuan Nuan heaped onto this food. The little marquis licked his lips and considered, could it be possible that his tongue had been too pampered by his wife’s wonderful cooking and was now being overly critical? In the past, if he had been offered milk sweetened with sugar and thickened with egg, he would probably have leaped three feet into the air in happiness.
“Just look at yourself, where is your dignity?” Su Nuan Nuan rolled her eyes at him before getting up. She headed towards a corner of the kitchen and picked up something that looked like a wooden bucket with a lid. When the lid was popped opened, a most intoxicating fragrance rushed out. It was rum made with raw sugar cane juice.
Duan Tingxuan sniffed and muttered, “It’s sweet? Is it a kind of honey wine?”
“No need for you concern yourself over this, it’s still not done yet.” said Su Nuan Nuan as she scraped out the milk mixture onto a large pan and added butter*. When she heard Si Ping’s voice laughing outside with the maids, she called out, “Si Ping, you come in and help too.”[Possible fake fact alert: … when did you make the butter? Don’t you know you need to whip the milk first to make butter? Or, you know, make the cream first before whipping it into butter?]
Si Ping leapt up eagerly, and rushed over to accept a clean rolling pin from Su Nuan Nuan. “Go and help your master,” she pointed at the large pan, “work with your master. Put your back into it, the faster the better.”
“Yes. Madam, is this thing cream?” Si Ping nodded happily, not at all offended at being ordered around. In fact he was happy to be named coolie number two, the rewards were excellent after all. Who in this mansion could boast to have such a wonderful mistress as he? Having the opportunity to eat all the best things first, this placed her in the same rank as the old madam in his eyes.
“That’s right, ah.” Su Nuan Nuan nodded as the two men worked. The milk and butter mixture were quickly whipped together, until a small whirlpool was formed. Next to the hard working duo, a line of maids cheered them on.
As everyone watched, the mixture in the pan started to double up in volume. It was quite incredible to watch the small amount of liquid cream and butter grow right before their eyes. Su Nuan Nuan stood on the side as the men worked, now and then pouring spoonfuls of rum into the mixture. When the mixture looked like it was about to burst out of the pan, Su Nuan Nuan commanded them to stop.
At that, Si Ping collapsed, the rolling pin falling out of his cramped hands. In contrast, the little marquis managed to maintain his dignity even after all that work. Well, he was a martial artist after all, and a powerful one at that. However, he had to admit that both arms felt weak after all that work.
Su Nuan Nuan came over with a spoon to scoop up a bit of the cream and held it near his mouth, smiling, “Here! It’s been hard on you, have a taste. This is real cream.”[… I’m seriously thinking of using ‘buttercream’ instead of ‘cream’ because that’s what they just made]
Duan Tingxuan carefully opened his mouth, and closed his lips around the spoon. The faint scent of Su Nuan Nuan’s ‘rum’ hit his nose first, followed by a rich and mellow sweetness that melted in his mouth. He nodded slowly and held out his thumb. “Nuan Nuan, to think that you can make such a wonderfully delicious thing. I am in awe again. By the way, are you sure that you’ve been sent to hell after your death? You’re sure you haven’t been to heaven? This should be something that only the Queen Mother of the West would have on the table, isn’t it?”
[Gumihou: I have a feeling that author had mixed up cream, butter and buttercream making techniques…]
 Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs – Youtube video shows recipe from Chef Wang Gang
 Cherry Blossom Pork – I included this youtube video because the instructions looked easy to follow, and I like the cutting technique
Click on the picture for the translated recipe!
 Sweet & Sour Pork Strips – Youtube video shows recipe from Chef Wang Gang
Click on the picture for the translated recipe!
 Queen Mother of the West or Wang Mu Niang Niang – Chinese Tao goddess of life, fertility and immortality. Originally presented with the teeth of a tiger and as a goddess of plague and disaster. She was later reformed and is now known as a benign Tao deity… kind of like Su Nuan Nuan…