Chapter 43: La Zhi Roujiamo
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
“What mission?” the system asked, seemingly wondering.
“I’m going to enter the test field now; aren’t you supposed to give me a mission to, like, master the la zhi roujiamo in one night and then give me a reward?” Mag asked, wondering.
“System has no missions for you right now. You may do as you please,” the system answered calmly.
“I don’t want to learn without a reward,” Mag said indifferently.
“The test field will disappear in 24 hours after the experience bag is opened. Do what you like,” the system said in an indifferent voice too.
Mag raised an eyebrow. Whoa, is this the same system I know? It talked back to me. This is its little revolt?
Mag didn’t want to waste his breath talking to the system. He took a look at the 24-hour timer on the door of the test field and opened the door with his mind. His whole spirit was sucked into a little man like the last time. When he opened his eyes again, he found himself in that enclosed kitchen.
Mag took a look around. In the corner of the cooking bench stood a round oven, its outer casing made from silver stainless steel—an electric oven. It was somewhat like a traditional wood oven, only more convenient.
Mag walked over to the oven, took off the lid, and looked inside. Then he nodded contentedly. “This oven could allow me to make at least 15 bai ji bread loaves [1. Bai ji bread is a kind of bread.] at one time. I can indeed cook this much faster than Yangzhou fried rice.”
Beside the oven was a spice box. Inside the box, Mag found bay leaves, Chinese cinnamon, star anises… all the spices needed to stew the meat.
A few bags of flour were lying in the kitchen cupboard, and there was a half drawer of streaky pork and a small pile of pork ribs in the fridge.
“Well, now it’s time to show off my true cooking skills.” Mag washed his hands first and took a large piece of streaky pork from the fridge. After washing it, he cut it into chunks that were 15 centimeters long and 10 centimeters wide. Then he put them into a large jar and added different spices.
Normally, the meat should be stored for at least a day, but it was ready after only five minutes in this test field. Mag put the meat in the pot and added spices and seasonings. He heated the water to a boil quickly over high heat and skimmed the scum off the stew; then, he turned the burner down to low heat to cook it. After two hours, it was done.
As the stew was simmering, Mag started his journey with flour for the first time.
After practicing thousands of times when learning the Yangzhou fried rice, Mag’s cutting skills made him capable of dealing with almost all the work in the kitchen. However, kneading dough was another matter entirely; it called for strength, as well as skills.
Although the system would help him recover his strength every hour, kneading dough was quite an effort. He had to rest for a while every fifteen minutes or so. His weak body was really cramping his style; it took him more than an hour to get the dough thoroughly kneaded.
When the dough was ready, he let it rest for half an hour. Then, he tore it into small balls. He took a ball of dough, stretched it long and thin, rubbed some sesame oil on its top, and sprinkled some pepper salt on it. Then he rolled it up, pressed it flat with his hand, and made it round with a rolling pin. By now, the bread was ready to be baked.
Mag turned on the oven, preheated it, and put the bread on the hot cooking surface to harden it. Then, he moved it to the side of the oven and let it stand vertical till it was ready. He made 16 bai ji bread loaves on his first try.
When the bread loaves were ready, Mag took one from the oven. Since it was his first time, the bread was not very well-shaped, and it had some cracks. He hadn’t been very successful.
The stewed meat was almost ready too. As he opened the lid, the pleasant aroma tickled his nose. The light brown meat looked good; some fell apart, though. There was still room for improvement.
He remembered when he had roujiamo in Xi’an 1 in his previous life—he had written down some comments and requirements in his microblog afterwards; now he had to act on his own requirements. His face became a little sour.
You reaped what you sowed.
He didn’t know how long it would take him to make a roujiamo that good.
Then Mag started his tedious mission of making la zhi roujiamo again and again. He stayed very calm, though, since it was not the first time he was going through this. He didn’t feel uneasy staying for a long time in this enclosed kitchen.
He didn’t know how many batches he had made. On the 30th day, Mag skillfully took a bai ji bread from the oven and sliced it open gently with a thin knife. Then, he took a chunk of meat from the pot, chopped it finely on the cutting board, and stuffed it all in the bread. Finally, he added some gravy to it. A steaming la zhi roujiamo was now ready.
“System, what about this one?” Mag asked, full of anticipation.
“According to your comments and requirements before,
“1. The meat has to be tasteful; the lean part should be soft and chewy, while the fat shouldn’t be too oily—achieved.
“2. The bread has to be white; the outside should be crispy, while the inside soft and spongy; near the edge, on the top and bottom, it should have a round strip which is golden brown, and the middle part should be golden brown too and shaped like a chrysanthemum—achieved.
“3. The meat should be delicious, while the bread crispy and soft; it should release juice as one chews on it—achieved.
“Congratulations! You have met all the three requirements and mastered the skills of making la zhi roujiamo. Now you have gained the right to buy the ingredients needed for la zhi roujiamo and to use the relevant kitchenware,” the system said.
“Perfect!” Mag took a bite of the roujiamo in his hand. The crispy bai ji bread had become a little softer after the gravy seeped into it. As he bit into the agreeably fat meat, delicious juice came out. It tasted so good that he closed his eyes in spite of himself. It was most satisfying.
No sooner had he swallowed than he opened his eyes and found himself on his bed again. He moved his mouth and tasted nothing.
He didn’t want to sleep anymore as he thought about the delicious juicy meat that had tickled his taste buds. Gently, he turned on his bedside lamp and looked at the time. It was 12 am.
He had only spent 30 days in the test field, and most of the time was taken up by making bai ji bread. It was only two hours in real life.
Mag got out of his bed, changed into his chef’s suit, and put on his shoes. Then he turned off the light quietly and went to the kitchen downstairs. As he had expected, there was an oven in the corner of the cooking bench; beside the oven were different spices and seasonings. The fridge which had been stuffed with the ingredients for the Yangzhou fried rice now had a separate section for storing streaky pork, just like in the test field.
Mag put on the apron, took two pieces of streaky pork from the fridge, and cut them into chunks after rinsing them. Then he put them into a large jar and added various spices and seasonings.
He had to marinate his meat for a long while this time since he wasn’t in the test field anymore. One night might not be long enough, but it should still be flavorful in the morning. He could make Amy an authentic la zhi roujiamo for breakfast.
Mag’s face lit up as he pictured Amy eating roujiamo with her hands happily.