Chapter 96: Phoenix-Tail Prawns

“Here’s the deal. I can only treat you to a bowl of Clear Broth Noodle Soup. I can’t afford any other dishes.” Wu Zhou chattered to his colleague Zhao Yingjun, who had just sat down.
“I know, I know. You brat, I know well how much your bonuses are. I won’t rip you off if the Clear Broth Noodle Soup really costs 268 RMB.” Zhao Yingjun answered smartly.
“Turn around and check the price yourself if you don’t believe me.” Wu Zhou said angrily while pointing at the wall behind Zhao Yingjun.
“Alright. Fine.” He turned to check the menu.
The price on the menu made Zhao Yingjun think that the boss must have forgotten to add a decimal point or something, or he was originally a black-hearted boss.
“Could the Jin’ling Grass dish that’s 108 RMB be the artemisia selengensis?” Zhao Yingjun had been to Jin’ling City for business before and the artemisia was quite unforgettable to him, thus he couldn’t help but to ask.
“It’s supposed to be. Is that what you wanna eat?” Wu Zhou asked with an alert manner.
“Actually no. I wanna eat the Phoenix-Tail Prawns.” Wu Zhou let out a sigh of relief when Zhao Yingjun said “no”, but was then instantly astounded by the second half of his sentence.
“No way.” Wu Zhou refused point-blank. He covered his wallet protectively.
Was that guy kidding? His bonuses were all given to his girlfriend to deposit. The money to treat Zhao Yingjun was actually saved from his living expenses. If he treated him to a serving of Phoenix-Tail Prawns, he would definitely starve.
“A plate of Phoenix-Tail Prawns is worth 1288 RMB. I don’t think I can afford it. What about treating me to that?” It seemed that Zhao Yingjun didn’t hear Wu Zhou refusing him, and said directly.
“Ho Ho. Boss Yuan, two bowls of Clear Broth Noodle Soup. Nothing else.” Wu Zhou took no notice of Zhao Yingjun. He ordered the dishes straightforwardly and specially instructed not to serve other dishes.
“Wu Zhou, we’ve been friends for at least a few years. It doesn’t make sense if you’re reluctant to even treat me to a plate of prawns.” Zhao Yingjun said, smiling.
“Absolutely. Wu Zhou, you brat, you’re so stingy.” Seated beside them, Wu Hai likewise helped to persuade Wu Zhou.
“Little mustache man, how about you treating him to it then?” Wu Zhou turned his head and asked, glaring at him angrily.
“No, no. I just ordered one serving for myself.” Wu Hai grinned, revealing his white teeth.
“Let’s split the price half and half. What do you think?” Zhao Yingjun continued to offer suggestions.
“I promised Clear Broth Noodle Soup, so it’s going to be Clear Broth Noodle Soup. Just like Boss Yuan, I’m a person of principles.” Wu Zhou began to clutch his wallet tightly and said firmly.
“Forget it. Boss, does the dish of Phoenix-Tail Prawns really have a phoenix tail?” Zhao Yingjun decided to ask first before making the decision.
“Yes, it’s phoenix tail.” Yuan Zhou nodded.
“Are there really prawns with phoenix tails?” Zhao Yingjun muttered to himself and suddenly said, “Please offer me one serving of that dish.”
“Are you out of your mind? Remember you only have a monthly salary of thirty thousand.” Wu Zhou looked at Zhao Yingjun in surprise.
“Humm, I just want to make sure of something.” Zhao Yingjun showed an earnest expression.
“Alright. But I wanna taste it, the prawns worth more than 1000 RMB. Tsk-tsk.” seeing Zhao Yingjun was in low spirits, Wu Zhou intentionally said exaggeratedly.
“You can only eat one piece.” taking a look at Wu Zhou, Zhao Yingjun readily agreed.
“Stingy. I’m even treating you to Clear Broth Noodle Soup.” Wu Zhou talked little normally when he was programming, but once he got well acquainted with somebody, he would chatter endlessly.
Zhao Yingjun didn’t actually understand why a grown man liked chattering so much. Sometimes, he regretted acting familiar with the guy. Otherwise, Wu Zhou might be blathering much less right now.
The Phoenix-Tail Prawns in Yuan Zhou’s restaurant had only been unlocked for cooking just today. As a matter of fact, it had already been available to sell on the day he obtained the sculpting skill.
It was merely that Yuan Zhou himself decisively refused the system’s unlocking notification.
As he had just obtained the skill, Yuan Zhou felt as if he were a top martial artist who had suddenly received 60 years of internal strength training and didn’t know how to make the best use of it. Although things were easier for Yuan Zhou as the sculpting skill seemed to be growing well inside him, it still needed more practice before he achieved mastery. Only then could it be called the authentic supreme sculpting skill.
Now that Yuan Zhou felt his sculpting skill had finally come close to matching his culinary skills, he decided to unlock it.
The ingredients had already been prepared by the system. The prawns were alive and kicking spiritedly in the water tank. Two servings of Phoenix-Tail Prawns required 16 prawns in all. With the shrimp net, Yuan Zhou precisely locked onto and caught them at just the right amount.
This dish required large river prawns. Those that were provided by the system all had at least a finger’s length, with the robust and forceful tails as thick as an adult man’s thumb.
Each prawn was making threatening gestures in the water sink, holding its long claws up and waving from left to right vigorously.
“Boss Yuan, your prawns are really nice.” such ingredients that customers could see personally were always subject to praise. Wu Hai glanced at the prawns and couldn’t help but say.
“Judging from the color, the prawns look like wild ones. Am I right, Boss Yuan?” a man who seemed to be knowledgeable said after watching carefully for a while.
“Humm.” Yuan Zhou basically wore a mask every time when he was processing ingredients. Even so, his solemn expression was revealed from his never-changing poker face.
Yuan Zhou took out a soft, thin brush and began to clean the prawns one by one. Even the head and claws that would be thrown away were completely cleaned, and each tiny part was carefully swept by the soft brush.
Despite that, the prawns nevertheless were calm. If anyone watched carefully, they would find that Yuan Zhou’s brushing was extremely regular, and that he had mastered the command of strength most suitable for the prawns with his steady wrist.
Having been cleaned, all the prawns looked languid with their tails leisurely stretching out. At that time, Yuan Zhou picked up a prawn and quickly opened the back first to take out the vein. After that, he rotated it with his left hand and rubbed with the right, instantly taking out the black line from the dorsal section.
Only then did Yuan Zhou snip off the heads and break apart the complete shell, leaving the prawn tail stretching. Then, he moved the prepared prawn onto a white plate beside him to wait while he continued the next one.
Yuan Zhou processed the prawns quite fast and finished all the work in just under 5 minutes. The prawns were laid on the plate with their backs open, their white tails appearing transparent on the background of the white plate.
The several people who were watching at the side didn’t make any sound at all. They were afraid of disturbing Yuan Zhou’s smooth and graceful actions. Placed in the plate, the tails were like the petals of blooming marigold flowers.
The hard shell on the tail was like an open trumpet, looking extraordinarily delicate.
The knowledgeable customer who knew prawns well said, “Boss Yuan, your ingenious skill of cleaning and shelling was so marvelous.” when Yuan Zhou finished his mise en place.
“Yes, indeed. I couldn’t do anything but stare,” Wu Zhou nodded, dumbfounded.
“It’s indeed at the Grandmaster level of skill. Loosening the tail in order to take out the complete shrimp vein; using careful command of strength when opening the shell on the back with a fine and accurate blade; ensuring the same thickness and depth of cut on both sides. Boss Yuan’s prawns really are worth their price tag.” the analysis from Wu Hai proved he was an authentic foodie; otherwise how could he understand so much about Yuan Zhou’s technique?
“Looks like we’re really going to be able to eat genuine Phoenix-Tail Prawns today.” Zhao Yingjun no longer looked so regretful after Wu Hai’s explanation. The reason why he had ordered the dish just now was firstly because of his former travelling experience, and secondly pure impulsion.
These several people whispered to each other while others still in line likewise watched attentively. However, Yuan Zhou wasn’t affected at all by them.
His job was to do his utmost to cook delicious foods for his customers’ to savor. The satisfaction of the customers was the sole measure of success that he pursued.

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