Chapter 3: Braised Pork Belly
Translated by Yan of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
For the next few days, Lin ShuYi went to Old man Yang’s restaurant daily. Old man Yang also grew to like this child even more, who was sensible and intelligent even though he didn’t talk much. If there was anything tasty, he would always leave a bit for Lin ShuYi.
Today, Lin ShuYi also went to XiQin Restaurant, but since it was early in the morning, Old man Yang was still making the sauce to pour over the noodles. He was currently cutting beef and pork belly.
Old man Yang didn’t have a large variety of dishes here. However, everything that he did have was made deliciously, otherwise his business wouldn’t be so impressive even after several decades.
“Xiao-Yi’s here. Have you eaten yet?”
Lin ShuYi shook his head. In fact, he didn’t have anymore rice left in his house. He came because he wanted to ask Old man Yang how he could make money; he had to at least make enough money to eat.
When Old man Yang heard that Lin ShuYi hadn’t eaten yet, he stopped his task at hand and brought out a bowl of congee from the back, as well as a bing.
(t/n: bing is like a type of flat pancake? Sort of? But savory in this case)
The congee was white rice congee boiled from slender glutinous rice. It was slightly translucent, thick, and sticky with an inherent sweetness.
The bing was fried while making pork belly slices. The pork belly, which was sliced extremely finely, was paired with fragrant scallion and ginger pieces, and some pepper powder and light soy sauce was sprinkled on top. The flour was mixed with warm water before it was rolled out into long strips. The ground meat was rolled up inside of the flour strips and the bing was pressed flat horizontally until it was thin, before it was fried. Each layer contained ground meat, the outside crispy while the inside was tender, creating a mouthful of aroma. It tasted so good that it made people want to just swallow their tongue along with it.
Grandpa was a good person. Lin ShuYi couldn’t be any more clear about this. “Grandpa…”
“Do you know where I can make money?”
“Money?” Old man Yang looked over.
Lin ShuYi lowered his head, and he said, a little embarrassed still, “I don’t have any rice in my home, nor do I have any money. I’m thinking maybe I can go out and do some tasks, so I can make some money.”
He knew that there were many things you could do in this place to make money. The only thing was that he didn’t know what he could do.
Old man Yang clearly didn’t know that Lin ShuYi’s life was already poor to this degree. When he remembered that Lin ShuYi was the only one left in his home, it made much more sense. What could a seventeen or eighteen year old child do? Old man Yang couldn’t think of anything either. His grandson was already more than twenty years old, and he still hadn’t gone out to work yet. This country wasn’t very large either, so he didn’t know what Lin ShuYi could do, but he still wanted to help out this child.
Old man Yang looked at the noodles in his hand, and suddenly, an idea rose in his mind. “How about you help me out in my shop? I’ll pay you every month.”
His shop’s business was quite well, and it wouldn’t be a problem to support another half-grown child. What’s more, this child was charming and hardworking.
Lin ShuYi’s eyes lit up before dimming again. “I can’t help you out much either, though.”
In reality, Old man Yang no longer cared at all what Lin ShuYi could help him out with. Even if he could help him clear some plates or bowls, that was good too. “It’s fine, there’s not much to do in this grandpa’s shop. As long as you don’t mind that the pay this grandpa gives you isn’t high.”
Lin ShuYi was finally moved. Actually, he naturally also wanted to stay in this place. After all, he was familiar with it. When he saw the knife placed to the side, Lin ShuYi’s eyes lit up again. “I can cook. Grandpa, how about I help you cook?”
Old man Yang remembered at once that he seemed to have said that he could cook last time as well. However, he hadn’t really believed him at the time. Now, when he saw this child solemnly swear that he could cook once again, the slight urge to tease him a bit appeared.
“What dishes can Xiao-Yi make?”
Lin ShuYi thought a bit before he listed them out earnestly one by one for Old man Yang. “I can make wine-soaked duck, mandarin duck meatballs, white cut chicken, jade duck egg…”
Old man Yang was given a scare by Lin ShuYi’s earnest appearance. When he recovered, he started laughing out loud. “You know quite a bit, where did you get so many recipes from? There’s many that I’ve never even heard of before.”
Lin ShuYi thought, It’s natural that you haven’t heard of them before, since they’re all dishes from Lotus Tower. He had pestered Song Yan for a very long time before Song Yan finally agreed to teach them to him. But Lin ShuYi didn’t hear the disbelief in Old man Yang’s words.
When Lin ShuYi went back at night, Old man Yang gave him a bag of rice and some meat. After all, Lin ShuYi wasn’t in his shop the entire day, and furthermore, he couldn’t let Lin ShuYi eat noodles every day. Even though he didn’t believe that Lin ShuYi could make any great dishes, he still knew that with a history like Lin ShuYi’s, there was no way he was like Old man Yang’s grandson, who had clothing and food at his beck and call.
When Lin ShuYi returned home, he put the rice and meat in the kitchen and laid on the bed to think.
Since he was going to work in Old man Yang’s restaurant, he didn’t want to only help him clear dishes and carry plates. All in all, if this was how it was going to be, he would be too ashamed to take Old man Yang’s money, but at the same time, he needed to earn money. If he wanted to ground himself in this world, money was an absolute necessity.
He didn’t know to know why he came to this world. He only wanted to know what this world was like, and how he could survive in it. With that way of thinking, Lin ShuYi fell into a deep sleep.
When he woke the next day, there was an idea that appeared instantly in Lin ShuYi’s mind. He first had to prove to Old man Yang that his dishes were indeed very good.
The meat that Old man Yang gave him was still in the kitchen. It was a very fine piece of pork belly that he would only use when making zhajiangmian, minced pork noodles.
Lin ShuYi decided to make braised pork belly with it. But he didn’t have any rice wine. The essence of braised pork belly came from top-notch rice wine. He knew that Old man Yang should have a bottle of rice wine, but he didn’t know whether it was top-notch or not. In any case, he could put it with it and use it.
When he ran over to borrow the rice wine, Old man Yang was still busy. Even though he didn’t know what he was making, Old man Yang still let Lin ShuYi take the full bottle. After all, he hadn’t really used it after he bought it, and he wanted to know just what kind of dish Lin ShuYi could make.
Not only did Lin ShuYi borrow the rice wine, he also borrowed a small clay pot used for boiling soup.
Braised pork belly needed quite a bit of time to cook. After banging around in his house for two or so hours, the meat grew ruddy and soft, and the entire room was filled with the rich fragrance of meat. He then remembered what Song Yan had said while making this dish: “Slow the fire and lessen the water, when the heat is enough it will become beautiful on its own.”
Song Yan was very good at cooking, and he was the best chef in all of Great Yan. Lin ShuYi had admired him back then, but fortunately now he could also freely become a chef as well.
After it finished stewing and steaming, he placed it back inside the small clay pot he brought over. Everything in his house was very simple and crude, and besides the necessary pots, he didn’t have anything else. He had a pot full of meat, and the cover simply couldn’t obstruct its fragrance. As Lin ShuYi was carrying it over to XiQin Restaurant, everyone turned their heads to look at him—no, to look at the clay pot in his hands.
When he arrived at the shop, there were many people in it. The moment Lin ShuYi lifted the lid, the rich scent immediately filled the small restaurant, drawing everyone’s gazes over.
“What’s this? So fragrant?”
“Exactly, it’s red braised pork, right? But it seems a little different.”
Old man Yang was also drawn over by the clamor outside. The moment he saw the clay pot in Lin ShuYi’s hands and the captivating, plump, colorful q,meat inside the pot, he was struck dumb. He hadn’t imagined that this child would really know how to cook.
Lin ShuYi’s eyes curved with his smile. He was only this happy when he was cooking. “Grandpa, taste it.”
Old man Yang picked up a pair of chopsticks. Everyone else also wanted to try a bit.
As a result, they simply gave each person a piece of meat. Dissolving the moment it entered the mouth, fragrant but not greasy, the aftertaste long and continuous. This was probably the most delicious meat that Old man Yang had ever eaten.
“Young lad, where did you buy this? I’ll go get some too.”
Lin ShuYi laughed lightly. “I made it.”
This time, nobody believed him, mainly because most of these people all had children in their homes. As for somebody his age, never mind making this dish, he was most likely too lazy to even make noodles for himself and didn’t know how.
Old man Yang stood up, quite gratified. “Our Xiao-Yi made this himself, how is it? Pretty good, right?”
“This child really made it? He must be naturally gifted. Old man Yang, don’t you lack a successor for your little restaurant? Your son doesn’t want it either, so you might as well just teach your trade to him. That way, you can avoid having your wonderful skill die out. Also, this child cooks so well, if you make too much next time just tell us, we’ll buy it and eat it.” Someone spoke as if joking, but everyone else started to chime in. Though the speaker meant it unintentionally, the listeners found it interesting. Old man Yang glanced at Lin ShuYi and took those words to heart.
Smiling, he replied to the crowd, “Okay, if you want to eat it next time, then just say it. We’ll see if Xiao-Yi is willing to make some for you all.”