Chapter 81: A Top Chef

“Sun Ming, is the person that just entered the kitchen the chef?” the person who had looked down on Yuan Zhou walked close to Sun Ming and said with a low voice.
“He’s not a chef here. He’s my friend that specially came over to celebrate my birthday.” Sun Ming knew this guy was kind-hearted. He was just blunt. Hence, Sun Ming said those words while smiling.
“Well, fine. But why does he only cook the Egg Fried Rice?” the guy whispered.
“It’s what I would like to eat,” Sun Ming directly said.
“Ok. You are the leading role today, whatever you say. Come, everyone, a toast to him.” While speaking, he badgered Sun Ming into drinking alcohol.
“It’s your birthday today, so you must drink until you get drunk,” KFC came up, putting his arm over Sun Ming’s shoulders and said, grinning.
“That’s right. It’s your birthday, so you have to drink a cup first.” More people joined in to persuade Sun Ming.
Sun Ming had no choice but did as requested. Then he indicated he would drink another one in a while, using the excuse that he was waiting to savor tasty delicacies first.
After walking into the kitchen, Yuan Zhou finally understood what Sun Ming had meant by saying that the kitchen was like a brand-new one. This wasn’t like a brand-new one, but really is a brand-new one. Even the wok was still wrapped in a bag.
As expected, one could never trust a single male’s word. No wonder Sun Ming frequently came to his restaurant for meals no matter if he was busy or free. It was actually because he had never used the kitchen before.
“Peng”, Yuan Zhou opened the cabinet first to check if the flavoring were all prepared. He found them not bad. The basic flavoring were all placed inside of the cabinet, but likewise, sealed tightly.
Yuan Zhou shut the cabinet. Then he picked up the wok and spatula, starting to tear off their wrappings. Afterward, he started to heat up the wok.
Almost all new kitchenware needed to go through this procedure. Otherwise, the dishes cooked basically couldn’t be eaten.
The procedures of heating up the wok were quite simple. First, wash the wok clean, and then put it onto the stove to heat it. After that, use a small piece of pig fat to wipe the entire wok before washing it again. The process had to be repeated again and again. After three rounds, the wok would be ready to be used. Yuan Zhou, nevertheless, had a slightly different habit. After filling it up with water and boiling it, he put several pieces of pork with fat meat and lean meat along with some green radishes.
The purpose was naturally not to stew soup, but to boil some soup to absorb the metallic-rusty taste that remained in the new wok.
Yuan Zhou started to boil the broth before kneading the dough, preparing the noodles so that it can be cooked immediately once the soup was done.
Although Sun Ming was a foodie, he didn’t know much about ingredients. His principle was that the more expensive the ingredients, the better it was. With a mere glance, Yuan Zhou identified the flour as the most expensive kind displayed on supermarket shelves, packaged with the currently fashionable strong paper bag. After a careful look, it was indeed all-purpose flour.
“Si La”, Yuan Zhou tore the paper bag and pinched the flour with his hand. The dryness was still alright. If one smelled it carefully, the scent of wheat was rather faint while the powder quality was too white and silky. This was the result of excessive artificial processing.
Having poured the flour into a big stainless steel basin, Yuan Zhou began to knead the dough. Due to the weakness of the fragrance and texture of the flour, Yuan Zhou used eggs to replace clear water. This was to avoid the taste of the bleach which might cover the fragrance of the flour. He also scattered some salt to get rid of the bad odor in the flour and to increase the viscosity of the wet flour.
Yuan Zhou was busy doing all the preparations. Just as he was carefully kneading the dough which had turned slightly yellow after being mixed with eggs, KFC came up to the door and asked,
“Need a hand?”
“No. You just go and have fun,” Yuan Zhou turned his head and said softly. Of course, it wasn’t because Yuan Zhou had a gentle nature; he was just afraid that saliva might fall into the bowl if he spoke loudly. There was no mask in the kitchen here.
“You’ll be very slow if you do it yourself. The earlier you finish, the earlier you can go out to have fun together.” KFC was quite ardent. While still saying that, he had already rolled up his sleeves and prepared to enter to help.
“You don’t know how to do it. I like cooking on my own,” Yuan Zhou said earnestly while turning his head towards KFC.
“Well, ok. Just call me if you need help,” KFC put down his hands and shrugged his shoulders, saying.
“No problem.” Yuan Zhou began to knead the dough very carefully.
It required some special skills to knead the dough. Yuan Zhou, nevertheless, mastered not only the recipes, but also the craftsmanship. Even if it was just ordinary flour, Yuan Zhou would still manage to bring out a different flavor, trying his best to regain the fresh and delicious taste of the ingredient itself before cooking a superbly delicious delicacy.
This was what Yuan Zhou was doing right now. By the time Yuan Zhou finished kneading the dough, the basin appeared rather clean. The dough was smooth and his hands were also clean. Then Yuan Zhou began to roll the dough and make the noodles on a countertop that had been cleaned beforehand.
“Why is there no sounds coming from inside the kitchen?” someone asked out of sudden.
Sun Ming treated his friends to dinner at home to celebrate his birthday and had planned to order take-out for most dishes. Nevertheless, he later told everyone that a friend of his would specially come to cook the Egg Fried Rice and Longevity Noodles. It was understandable if he was going to cook other dishes; however, Egg Fried Rice was too ordinary. That made his friends really curious.
Now that this seemingly impassive chef friend of his had entered the kitchen, the only sound was that of flowing water at the beginning. Towards the end, even that sound stopped.
“Isn’t it just Egg Fried Rice? He hasn’t started to cook?” a girl set down the wine glass and asked curiously.
“Is he still washing the wok after such a long time?” another friend asked while holding the wine glass.
“It’s possible. So many people here. Even if it’s Egg Fried Rice, it won’t be an easy job.” the one who said that seemed to be experienced.
“I think we shouldn’t count on him so much. Anyhow, we already have so many dishes here.” There were still others that weren’t optimistic about Yuan Zhou’s culinary skills. These friends of Sun Ming had been to his kitchen just now to check around and found that everything was new. Nothing had been used before. In these kinds of kitchens, it was always a great inconvenience to cook. Besides, Yuan Zhou indeed didn’t look like a chef.
“Alright, my friends. I know my brother’s culinary skills well. Since I treated you guys, don’t speak of my brother anymore.” Sun Ming laid down the wine cup and said in a firm tone.
“I meant well. I just want to ask if he needs any help,” immediately, one of them explained.
“I went to check just now. Yuan Zhou was kneading the dough and said that he did not need help,” KFC uttered the words softly.
“No wonder there is no sound at all. It turns out to be handmade noodles.” The girl who had just spoken heaved a sigh full of emotion.
“I’m yet quite interested in handmade noodles. They taste chewy,” a fat man said.
Then the topic drifted away from the original point. They started to discuss the difference of handmade noodles and the ordinary machined-processed noodles.
On the other side, Yuan Zhou had poured away the broth and washed the wok. Now he was scattering the cooked rice.
Wearing gloves, he carefully separated the cooked rice that stuck together with gentle actions. The rice grains were intact and carried the fragrance of cold cooked rice. The wet cloth covering the rice, likewise, helped retained the moisture in the rice well. Once the rice was scattered, they looked rather beautiful.
After he separated the rice grains, Yuan Zhou uncovered the wet cloth and set it to dry in the air. Afterward, he started to beat the eggs. First, he shook one egg, then broke it with one hand and let the egg flow into the bowl while shaking another egg with the other hand at the same time. Both his hands were doing different things at once.
The skill of breaking the egg with one hand was learned and deftly mastered only after cooking the Egg Fried Rice many times. However, this skill was extremely convenient.
There were around 11 persons outside in the living room, and 12 including him himself. Therefore, Yuan Zhou broke a total of 14 eggs directly and let them all sit in a big bowl. Afterward, he mixed the eggs quickly before adding some warm water inside to make it taste smoother and more tender.
“Pa”, having turned on the gas furnace, Yuan Zhou started to heat the wok, preparing to cook Egg Fried Rice.
According to his habit, Yuan Zhou naturally just cooked the Golden Fried Rice, without any intention of adding green onion.
After the small water drops evaporated from the hot wok, Yuan Zhou poured some olive oil inside, barely covering the bottom. Then when the oil started smoking slightly, Yuan Zhou poured the cold rice into the wok and slightly stirred until every rice grain was wrapped with olive oil. Next, he poured the egg into the center of the wok, freely allowing the Egg Fried Rice to transform wonderfully in the wok.
The people chattering outside suddenly stopped talking… because they caught a whiff of the fragrance.

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