“Nanny, where is the small jar I asked you to wash the day before yesterday?” Su Erya’s voice interrupted Nanny Li’s thinking. Coming to her sense immediately, the nanny bent down and took the jar under the stove out on the table.
“Nanny is so considerate. The jar is perfect in size.”
After the praise, Su Erya put the whole hen into the jar, added the soy sauce, yellow rice wine and salt sealed the jar. Then she found a piece of while cloth and covered the jar with it.
“Nanny, attend to the chicken. It has to be marinated for half an hour. I’ll come back after doing some reading.”
Su Erya ordered and left. Nanny Li immediately replied and looked back how long had passed by counting her fingers.
She brought an hourglass and waited while counting the time. This was a very big deal for the Su Family’s restaurant. She hadn’t expected the Second Miss to trust her to oversee it.
“I won’t let the miss down. Half an hour. Remember!”
Li Yan stared at the hourglass and spent half an hour almost counting the seconds...
After exactly 30 minutes, Nanny Li immediately got up and shouted, “Miss, time is over.”
After a long time, Su Erya came over with a yawn and said with a smile, “Don’t worry. The timing is not exact. It will be okay if it marinates longer.”
“I was afraid. It’s important that the master values you. You cannot make mistakes.”
Looking gentle, Su Erya smiled and said, “Nanny, you are the best.”
Nanny Li’s ageing face turned reddish. She said, “You’re such a naughty girl...Hurry up and cook.”
Su Erya opened the wooden cover of the jar and carefully took out the whole chicken and bit by bit stuffed the fillings of chopped green onion, ginger, lean pork and diced shii-take she had fried with lard a few days before into the whole chicken belly. Then she opened the small porcelain bottle and evenly spread the grinded clove and anise powder on the chicken.
This series of dazzling movements dazed Nanny Li. There were so many complex crafts in preparing a common chicken. Like those royal court dishes. How on earth did the miss come up with it?
“Nanny, come here and help me tie the rope!”
Nanny Li came to her sense but saw that the whole chicken was tightly wrapped in lotus leaves. She immediately tied a solid knot for the rope. Then Su Erya wrapped up the chicken with two more layers of lotus leaves and brought the bucket of yellow mud dug up before.
“Nanny, apply the yellow mud to the wet white cloth with me. The mud must be even.”
Su Erya applied the yellow mud first and Nanny Li followed. With their joint efforts, it didn’t take much time to cover the white cloth.
Finally, Su Erya placed the lotus-wrapped chicken in the middle of the white cloth and tightened the chicken with four corners of the white cloth picked so that the yellow mud stuck to the chicken. Then she removed the wet cloth, fixed the chicken with an iron frame and roasted it on the charcoal fire.
“It turned out that the miss had asked me to make a charcoal fire for this purpose.” Nanny Li couldn’t help wondering at such an unconventional roasting method.
Su Erya was fully absorbed in her cooking. She turned the iron frame every half an hour. The interval was so exact that she didn’t need a tool to count time.
Although she was a wicked female devil in her previous life, she had shown such great attainments in delicacies that even the cooks of the imperial palace couldn’t compete with her. Her husband once said to her, “Only you and delicacies shouldn’t be discarded in this world.”
Therefore, even if she lost everything, with revenge and destruction ingrained in her mind, she couldn’t forget to help her husband collect the specialties of any place. The recipes engraved in her soul reminded her every moment that she didn’t have nothing at all and that there were her husband’s expectations to meet.
After four hours, Su Erya put down the iron frame with no expression, removed the charcoal brazier and picked up Beggar’s Chicken baked hard into a ball.
“Nanny!” Hearing the voice, Nanny Li, who was dozing off, suddenly woke up. “Miss, I am here.”
When Nanny Li looked at the big soil ball on the table, she felt strange that their long-term hard work turned out to be such an ugly thing.
“Nanny.” Su Erya’s cold tone turned gentle, “Call Daddy in.”
Su Huanli, who had been asleep for three hours, was hungry. Hearing Nanny Li’s voice, he immediately rushed in without stopping. Seeing the big soil ball on the table in Su Erya’s room, his eyes almost came out.
“Is this your new dish? It’s a mess! Old hen soup tastes more delicious than your dish cooked with mud!”
Su Huanli scolded so fiercely that his saliva spurted from his mouth, his eyesight blackened, and he felt the sky was collapsing on him. He felt he could see the Zhu and Yang Families laughing at him.
“Daddy, take it easy.” Su Erya smiled and gently knocked the surface of the yellow mud with a small hammer.
When the soil ball cracked, a strong and unrestrained aroma spread. Instantly the room was filled with a delicious fragrance, and even the guards outside couldn’t help but swallow, crazily staring into the room.
Su Huanli forgot his previous abuses and stared at the small soil ball cracked in half in front of him as if he was staring at his lover.
Su Erya continued to knock, and after all the yellow mud shell was knocked off, the hot smell came over, mixed with a strong fascinating fragrance. The fragrance was more appealing than that of Zongzi.
Su Huanli even thought that the yellow mud could be delicious.
As if she didn’t see her father’s reaction, Su Erya slowly untied the cotton rope and opened the wrapping lotus leaves. The real dish finally appeared in front of Su Huanli.
The chicken was golden and glistening as if it had been cooked with gold. What a feast for the eyes! The temperature inside the lotus leaves was very high. After Su Erya untied them, the hot steam mixed with white smoke slowly escaped from Jinyuan Court, and immediately the fragrance could be smelled throughout the whole Su House.
“What is that smell?” Zhu Yan tried hard to sniff as saliva filled his mouth. Instantly, the dinner in front of her looked as bad as chaff.
“Mother, it’s fragrant! I want to eat. Who is cooking?” Su Zipei sniffed the fragrance so hard that she almost closed her eyes and drifted away with it.
In the Jinyuan Court, Su Huanli was too busy eating to say a word, with oil all over his mouth.
When the chicken entered his mouth, his taste buds were instantly satisfied. The original crisp and tender taste almost took Su Huanli to the heaven.
“I can’t believe there are such delicacies in the world. How delicious!”
Su Huanli’s eyes became wet and fuzzy. He cried but didn’t stop stuffing chicken into his mouth.
In less than a few minutes, there was only lotus leaves and mud left on the plate. Su Huanli satisfactorily belched.
“Daddy, you ate too much. It’s time to go to the courtyard for digestion.” Su Erya smiled at her father.
At this time, Su Huanli woke up and remembered his purpose for coming over. But he ate up the whole chicken. What would he serve the Yang and Zhu Families?
Su Huanli’s ageing face turned red and patted his head, thinking that it seemed that he had to continue to find the three-yellow chicken, which would be indispensable for the supply of restaurant. What a happy worry!
“Erya, you did a good job. The dish will definitely serve as the signature dish of the Baiwei Building.”
Su Huanli was restrained to praise her. In spirit, however, he had madly shouted in excitement. The dish was far more satisfactory. The taste was almost ten thousand times better than that of the previous signature dish of the Baiwei Building!
The Baiwei Building could become the best of its kind in the world relying on Erya’s cooking skills. He may become the richest man in the world and even entered the imperial palace to pay a formal visit to the emperor, and to receive the golden plaque!
Thinking about his good fortune, Su Huanli almost laughed.
After a long while, he woke up from daydreaming, coughing twice, and his voice was gentler, “Erya, I will send for another three-yellow chicken in a few days, which will be given to the Zhu and Yang Families for evaluation. If the evaluation goes well, you will be the greatest contributor of our Su Family!”
Su Erya held her father and humbly said, “I don’t dare to claim the credit, and I’ll totally obey your arrangement.”
“Good! You are really my good daughter. Haha...”
Su Huanli laughed and walked away, with his head held high. After offering the dish, who dared to say that I was dimwitted from old age and impulsive?
After Su Huanli left, Nanny Li, who was waiting outside the door, immediately came in for clean-up and asked, “Miss, how does the new dish taste?”
Su Erya shook her head and said helplessly, “Daddy ate it all by himself. I don’t know its taste.”
Nanny Li widened her eyes and felt surprised. It seemed that the master wasn’t worried that he was stuffed. He ate such big a chicken. But... She wanted to taste it too! The smell alone made people want to taste it.
“Well, nanny, prepare the dinner immediately. I haven’t eaten anything for a long time.”
Su Erya reminded Nanny Li. The nanny suddenly remembered and said, clapping her hands, “Ah! Miss, you must be very hungry. The master didn’t leave anything for you. I will cook right now.”
Su Erya nodded lightly and looked into the distance. The selfish old guy Su Huanli didn’t change at all.
The second three-yellow chicken was given to Su Erya in less than two days. After baking it in half a day, Su Huanli took it away on time and left the Su House in a carriage.
After Su Huanli left, Nanny Li came over and said mysteriously, “Miss, I saw the Third Miss in the carriage.”
Su Erya smiled and said, “Nanny, are you doubting Daddy? The third sister was nearly killed by that scoundrel. Daddy took her with him to protect me. It’s a pity that the Third Sister is at risk.”
“So, miss, did you know there is a lot of gossip going on outside.” Nanny Li said, “Why didn’t I think of it? I thought the master would give all the benefits to the Third Miss.”
“Servants were talking about it, and I was not deaf.” Su Erya smiled lightly and turned back to the room.
On the government-financed road, the carriage squeaked along the way. Holding the slightly warm Beggar’s Chicken, Su Zipei lowered her head, the jealousy in her eyes almost burned out her reason.
She couldn’t wait to throw out what was in her hands!
Why did she have to be a substitute for the Second Sister? It was totally unfair for her to take risks and for the Second Sister to get the benefits!