Chapter 196: Bright Moon Rises Over Heaven’s Mountain

 

Translated by Gumihou

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Su Nuan Nuan began to grow angry, “I’ve always been like this. It’s not like your master didn’t know. If not for him shamelessly demanding me to come over, I’d still be living a free and leisurely life at Mingyu Residence. Why would I bother coming over to this stifling little palm sized courtyard to be sneered at by the likes of you? Just thinking about you people with your dagger eyes send shivers down my back.”

The matron’s eyes flashed, she was clearly about to erupt. Duan Tingxuan quickly tugged at Su Nuan Nuan’s sleeves, “Alright, alright, we’re already here now. So everyone just calm down…” Su Nuan Nuan pushed him aside and glared fiercely at the matron, not a single trace of fear in her as she sneered, “Oh, are you about to lose your temper? Well, go ahead, ah. I’d love it if you can represent your master and kick me out. Then I can happily go back to Mingyu Residence, heheh, it’s not like I’m a contract slave, with this kind of skill, I can live well anywhere.”

The matron really was about to lose her temper, but then she remembered master’s repeated warnings and had to swallow her anger down. She gave Su Nuan Nuan a wintry smile and said, “Since miss does not like the idea of working here, you need not be in a rush to leave. It’s not like our master is someone who has never been out in the world. If the things you made doesn’t suit his taste, even if you kowtow and beg, you won’t be allowed to stay.”

This was clearly a warning: It’s not like you can’t be kicked out if you really want to, you’d better not be all boast. Though it was under Lu Feng Yu’s orders, the Matron-in-Charge felt that Su Nuan Nuan would be a thorn in her flesh, especially in the future. If she stayed and really won over master’s favour, she might even lose power as a Matron-in-charge. Therefore, she gave a clear hint for this woman to get out of this residence: Do badly, and you’ll get yourself kicked out, understand?

Once they reached the kitchen, Su Nuan Nuan immediately entered. Since Duan Tingxuan’s skill was not up to standard, so he can only play the role of Su Nuan Nuan’s ‘assistant’ and entered after her. Husband and wife exchanged a swift glance, and breathed in deeply: From now on, they’ve really entered the Tiger’s Den.

Close to lunch time, Lu Feng Yu fairly skipped back to his residence and was immediately rewarded with wonderful smells from the kitchen. He could not resist poking his head in with a bright laugh and asked, “Ms. Wang, what’s for lunch?”

“Master.”

Aside from Su Nuan Nuan, the cooks within the kitchen all hurriedly saluted him, Duan Tingxuan included. When Su Nuan Nuan continued to stay silent, Duan Tingxuan tugged at her sleeve and whispered, “The master asked you a question.”

“Did you forgot to grow a mouth?” Su Nuan Nuan impatiently turned away. She did not even bother to look at Lu Feng Yu. Duan Tingxuan’s smile was wide and ingratiating enough for two people as he said, “Master, please don’t be angry. Her mood is not very good today. However, I can guarantee that no matter what frame of mind she’s in, her cooking remains superb. Today, she is making Tea Eggs, Crispy Spare Ribs with Garlic [1], and also some Sauced Barbecued Chicken Wings, Braised Mushroom with Bok Choy…”

As Duan Tingxuan listed the names of the dishes, the fire that had flared up in Lu Feng Yu’s chest dimmed. He cast his eyes over at the busily cooking Su Nuan Nuan, touched his nose, and thought ‘A Good Man Does Not Quarrel with Women’ and left in a fit of pique.

This action of retreating from a confrontation shocked the cooks in the kitchen. They all stared at Su Nuan Nuan, the word ‘Amazing’ shining brightly in their eyes. Duan Tingxuan sighed with relief. Su Nuan Nuan must have some reason for acting so belligerently right off the bat, but he’s still relieved that she was let off so easily.

When it comes to dealing with people like Lu Feng Yu, you must be the one to do the leading and not let him lead you about by the nose. While one must be careful when dealing with this poisonous snake, bowing, scraping and flattering was just the same as being led by the nose. Therefore, why not borrow the excuse of feeling unhappy at being ‘forced’ into this kitchen to just ‘Smash a Cracked Jar to Pieces'[2].

At best, this will establish a precedence for all her future interaction with Lu Feng Yu with her being the leader, and he, the sheep. At worse, she would be kicked out of this place. Thereby providing her with the best excuse to leave this tiger’s den with all their schemes and identity still intact. Duan Tingxuan and Lu Feng Yu would also be relieved to see her out of this place anyway. She was not at all worried about Lu Feng Yu having her killed over such infractions, but it was still better to have an upper hand and limit his movements.

“The dishes are ready, Mrs. Zhang and Xiao Yun, you two carry the dishes with me to the dining room.”

When Ms. Rong, the original chief cook for this kitchen, saw Su Nuan Nuan lifting out the last dish, her eyes filled with admiration for the beautifully constructed ‘Egg Meatball’. At the same time, she quickly snatched the tray out of Su Nuan Nuan’s hands: They say that servants would eventually imitate their masters. Since they were people from Lu Feng Yu’s court, one thing they don’t lack was intelligence.

Su Nuan Nuan was lazily amused as she watched others snatch up food containers and swiftly pack up the food that Su Nuan Nuan had prepared. Once the last of the plate meant for the master had been taken away, she took out the rest and placed them on the table. Addressing the people who were still milling about, she said, “Alright, it’s time for our lunch too. Since Ms. Rong and those others like to wait upon the master so much, let them do it. We’ll eat first, they can have our leftovers later. They should pay the price for the privilege of waiting upon the master, right?”

The rest were shocked for a moment, but then began to laugh. A Mrs. Liu laughingly declared, “When Ms. Wang ignored master just now, I was sweating quite badly for you. Luckily the master left without saying a word. But, I think you should still find an opportunity to speak some good words to the master. Otherwise, future credit you might have will all be snatched up by Sister Rong.

While it might look like you’re being soft, I believe that this merely proves that you are just unwilling to get into pointless quarrels. Seeing your hard work being snatched away like this makes my heart sink, but since Ms. Wang is no shrinking violet, I’m sure you won’t just leave things alone. At any rate, we should all have a taste of Ms. Wang’s dishes. To be honest, I’ve been dying to try the ‘Egg Meatball’ for some time now.”

Su Nuan Nuan laughed, “While you can certainly call it Egg Meatball, it’s not meant to be called that way. The proper name for this dish is Bright Moon Rises Over Heaven’s Mountain [3].”

“B-bright Moon Rises… Over Heaven’s… Mountain?” Mrs. Liu’s eyes practically stood out in stalks, “What… what is this gorgeous name?” Isn’t it just a giant meatball with a chicken’s egg yolk in it? What does it have to do with Bright Moon or Heaven’s Mountains? Mrs. Liu does not understand.

“Come and have a look, doesn’t the egg yolk look like a full moon?” Su Nuan Nuan happily held up her creation. At Mrs. Liu’s nod, she pointed at the meat, “Now, don’t the meat portion, with the green flecks of vegetables, looks like part of a mountain?”

Mrs. Liu shook her head and said straightforwardly, “Not at all, what mountain is so smooth and round?”

Su Nuan Nuan, “… …”

“Ms. Wang, our master is calling for you.”

Su Nuan Nuan, who had been rendered speechless by Mrs. Liu’s lack of imagination, looked up at the call of a maid. Her heart gave a thump, and she cast a glance at Duan Tingxuan and saw him hurrying over to her side with an ingratiating smile, “I shall go with dear wife.”

“No need.”

Su Nuan Nuan really didn’t think there was anything to it, but Duan Tingxuan protested, “Your temper is too explosive, you better not offend the master anymore. Please don’t assume that this master will be as lenient as the previous one, alright?” He was still speaking as they walked out of the kitchen, and another beautiful maid spotted them. Her forehead creased and she said, “The master only requested for Ms. Wang, what are you being a busy body for?”

“Sister doesn’t know, but my wife’s temper is too explosive. I’m afraid that she might provoke the master. I’m just following to make sure nothing bad happens.” Duan Tingxuan smiled ingratiatingly. From the smile alone, no one could have connected him with the grand and dignified little marquis from before.

The pretty maid gave a sneer, but did not say much. Lu Feng Yu’s servants really were similar to him, all of them treacherous and cunning. It’s good enough that I don’t make trouble for you, I’ve already done you the great service of giving you a hint, so don’t expect me to help you further. If the master gets angry, you’re on your own.

At the dining room, they noticed that both Ms. Rong, Mrs. Zhang and Xiao Yun were kneeling together at the bottom of the steps, each holding a roof tile over their heads. The noon sun was particularly hot and all three were sweating badly. However, none of them dared to wipe their sweat and could only blink to get rid of the salty moisture.

Su Nuan Nuan frowned. Though this Ms. Rong was quite annoying, but isn’t this punishment too overdone? Looks like Su Dong Lou was right, this Lu Feng Yu was really ruthless. Who knows what mistake he imagined these people made? She had better be a little more careful.

[Gumihou: Hahaha, see what I did there?]

The moment she entered the dining room, cool air brushed past her face. She blinked in surprise, but then saw there were a few basins of ice arranged all around the room. It was still spring now and he’s already so free with the ice. Would he actually fill his room with 20 or 30 basins of ice for summer?

“Ms. Wang, today’s dishes are not bad. I, your master, am very pleased.” Lu Feng Yu leaned back in his chair and smiled a gentle harmless smile, but his next words chilled the room more than the basins of ice. “However, I must say I’ve never seen these two dishes before. When I questioned the people who brought these over, they couldn’t give me the proper names. They tried to make fun of me by providing me with vulgar names like Egg Meatballs and Meat Stuffed Fish [4]. I was so angry that I threw them out to kneel outside. People who want to take credit for other people’s work should at least do their homework first, don’t you think so?”

The f*ck with this heartless person, ah?

Su Nuan Nuan and Duan Tingxuan inwardly exploded with bad words. However, the two of them understood what was going on as well: After Ms. Rong and the others happily carried the dishes over, they must have been struck dumb when Lu Feng Yu asked for the dish’s name.

As for the severity of the punishment, in addition to displeasing this master, these two dishes must have pleased Lu Feng Yu to the point that he deliberately help Su Nuan Nuan vent this anger. The message was clear: This master acknowledges your bold cooking skills and will not allow others to take credit for it. Did you see those people outside? That’s the consequence of taking other people’s credit.

The same thought flashed through husband and wife’s mind. As long as Su Nuan Nuan’s cooking skill could subdue this Lu Feng Yu, their plan was already half completed.

“Wu! So it’s Bright Moon Rises Above Heaven’s Mountain? What an imaginative and poetic name. The egg yolk looks like a gorgeous full moon in the sky, and the meatball, with its green speckle, doesn’t it look just like a mountain? Good, a very good name. As expected, a unique dish must have a unique name. How could it be so crudely called Egg Meatball? Humph, those wretches in the kitchens actually dared to deceive me.”

The moment Duan Tingxuan revealed the ‘Egg Meatball’s’ name, Lu Feng Yu clapped his hand, his laughter practically sparkling in the air. Praises fairly tumbled from his mouth, leaving Su Nuan Nuan speechless. Wei, why are the people from the kitchen so stupid? Can’t you just make up a name or something? Calling it a Rising Sun Meatball or whatever would be good enough. You should know that your master is a pretentious cultured snob, so why did you blurt out a stupid name like Egg Meatball? Haven’t you just sentenced yourself to kneel under the sun for lack of imagination?

Then she heard Lu Feng Yu calling for someone to bring more tiles over. Apparently he wanted to add more tiles onto Ms. Rong’s head. Su Nuan Nuan’s face hardened, “Master, they’ve been kneeling for a long time, surely that’s enough? It’s just the name of a dish, there’s no need to take people’s lives over it. Isn’t torturing them like this overdoing it?”

 

[Gumihou: Oh my god, Lu Feng Yu is so mean! Also, apparently cunning and imagination don’t coexist among Lu Feng Yu’s people]

 

[1] Crispy Spare Ribs with Garlic – by Chef Wang Gang!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG5oSs-IjbU

 

[2] Since the Jar is Cracked, Just Smash It to Pieces – Might as well be hanged for sheep as lamb – Might as well be punished for a big misdeed as a small one

 

[3] Bright Moon Rises Over Heaven’s Mountain – This is actually the first line of Li Bai’s Poem – Moon Over Mountain Pass. By the way I didn’t actually follow the translation for the poem. 😛

The link below goes to a youtube of a guqin music for the poem

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiCi6-MpoRc

There really isn’t a dish called Bright Moon Rises Over Heaven’s Mountain, believe me, I checked. I’d expect such a gorgeous dish to be listed. HOWEVER, there really is a dish called Egg Meatball. It’s just minced pork with a lot of beaten egg. Not at all gorgeous.

After all that description, the closest thing I could think off is the Scotch Egg. However, the description of using only the yolk brings to mind Deep Fried Phoenix Ball with a salted ducks’ egg yolk in the centre.

Here’s a recipe for Phoenix Ball. I feel kind of dirty every time I say it, lol! Phoenix Ball… lol!

http://mytrialsinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2016/02/deep-fried-phoenix-ball-chinesenewyear.html

Personally, I like Japanese influenced Scotch Eggs better than the English Scotch Eggs. The egg is soft boiled and gooey when cut, very gorgeous and deserving of a fancy name. Here’s a recipe from Cooking with Dog

https://cookingwithdog.com/recipe/scotch-eggs/

Between the two, I think the Japanese Scotch Egg is trickier, since you need to get the egg just right, and you need a layer of starch, meat, beaten egg and finally panko before frying.

Regardless, both are doable recipes!

If someone really wants to make Bright Moon Rises Above Heaven’s Mountain, you can try making onsen tamago first, which is a unique technique of cooking chicken egg in hot water resulting in firm yolks and soft whites. The yolk is still technically soft boiled and would probably be fine when wrapped in ground meat, especially if you chill it first. Speaking of chilling, have you ever freeze eggs before?

Frozen egg yolks will keep their shape even after thawing, so in theory, you can put those in the middle of meatballs too.

Why yes, I always ponder over recipes like this, why do you ask?

[4] Meat Stuffed Fish – I’m not sure whether this is a made up dish, but I can’t seem to find the recipe for it.

 

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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