Chapter 134 - A Senior Foodie

“This is salted duck, a new dish that I came up with. You can eat it after steaming it in the cauldron and pouring some of the braising sauce on top.” The main purpose of Yu Xiaocao’s visit was to promote salted duck, so she naturally wouldn’t let go of this good chance.

“Salted duck? Xiaocao, you came up with a new recipe?” Zhou Zixu, who looked weary, came in from outside with the county magistrate’s son following behind him.

Yu Xiaocao smiled and greeted him, “Third Young Master, where did you go so early in the morning?”

Zhou Zixu replied, “Where else? Of course, I just came back from the construction site at the wharf. It’s a critical point for the construction for our factory right now. I have been personally supervising the site these past few days!”

“Thanks for your hard work!” Yu Xiaocao had a certain sense of respect for his young man, who would have been a middle school student in her previous life. Dragons gave birth to dragons, while phoenix gave birth to phoenixes [1]. The son of a mouse was capable of digging holes, while the son of an imperial merchant would be a workaholic when doing business!

Zhou Zixu grinned from ear to ear on his slightly childish face, “If our factory can be completed earlier, all the hard work would be worth it! Do you know, Xiaocao? For just the oyster sauce alone we received over two hundred orders! The production for the oyster sauce hasn’t even started yet, but we already got orders for five thousand jars. Many of the orders came from famous restaurants in the south!”

“Young Boss Zhou, your business is really thriving ah! Wonder if this old man has the luck to help Zhenxiu Restaurant taste the ‘salted duck’ that Little Lass Yu brought over?” Yuan Sinian, who had been staring at the half a portion of salted duck, saw that the two were chatting about business and asked somewhat impatiently.

Yuan Yunxi covered his face—there was no one but his grandfather who would beg for food so righteously! At this moment, he desperately wished that he didn’t know this old man who had no shame in front of food.

Zhou Zixu was considered best friends with Yuan Yunxi, so he also had a pretty clear understanding of Grandpa Yuan’s temperament. With a sincere expression on his face, he said, “Grandpa Yuan, even if you’re not here, this boy will invite you, an influential leader of the gourmet world, to come give us some pointers. In the future, we will definitely need to pass your test before Zhenxiu Restaurant introduces a new dish.”

Yuan Sinian was satisfied with Third Young Master’s words. He uninhibitedly sat down at a table in the main dining hall. He stroked his beard, squinted his eyes, and said, “Little girl, aren’t you going to hurry up and serve the salted duck?”

Zhou Zixu looked at the sky and noticed that it wasn’t quite noon yet. They had just eaten breakfast not too long ago, so were they really going to eat lunch now? He could understand Grandpa Yuan’s eagerness since he was also looking forward to tasting the salted duck. But, they still needed to let the host make some preparations, right?

“Grandpa Yuan, how can I let you sit in the main hall? I have a private room kept in reserve. Please come with me…”

“Didn’t you say that the private rooms needed to be booked in advance? What’s this? Manager Zhou, are you looking down on this old man?” Without his persona as a famous scholar, Yuan Sinian was just a gluttonous, stubborn old man.  

The head manager smiled flatteringly and said, “Headmaster Yuan, that private room is a place reserved for our boss to rest in. It’s not used for guest reservations…”

“Guest reservations? Can those outsiders compare with this old man? Our Yunxi grew up wearing the same trousers as your young master! I’m Yunxi’s grandfather so I’m naturally also your boss’s grandfather! How can I be considered an outsider?” Yuan Sinian fumed and glared with rage.

Third Young Master Zhou quickly pretended to scold, “That’s right! Be more careful in the future. Grandpa Yuan isn’t an outsider!! Don’t let this happen again!”

“Grandfather!” Yuan Yunxi saw that his grandfather wanted to say something, so he hastily signaled him with a frown.

Yuan Sinian angrily glared at his grandson, and then headed for the second floor.

“This old man is becoming more and more childish as he gets older!” Seeing the old man walking away quickly and vigorously, Young Master Wu smiled and exclaimed in a somewhat rueful manner.

Yuan Yunxi, on the other hand, apologized to Third Young Master Zhou, “Zixu, I…”

“The old man is right. What’s our relationship with each other? There’s no need to be polite like strangers. Let’s all go try Xiaocao’s new dish! I’ll take Xiaocao to the back kitchen first and then have a couple of drinks with you guys later!” Third Young Master Zhou patted his shoulder and said nonchalantly.

Yu Xiaocao’s mouth twitched. ‘Why is a group of little brats drinking wine? Does he really think that he’s a big boss?’ Nevertheless, she just criticized them within her heart and wasn’t so foolish as to say it aloud.

“Third Young Master, you should go entertain your guests. I can go to the kitchen myself!” The kitchen was the place that Xiaocao had been to the most in Zhenxiu Restaurant. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that she could find her way over even with her eyes closed.

However, Third Young Master Zhou smiled and said, “It’s nothing. We’re all close brothers! Manager, serve them some good tea!”

Third Young Master Zhou brought Yu Xiaocao to a secret kitchen in the rear courtyard. Other than Head Chef Wang and his trusted disciples, no one else was allowed to enter this kitchen. In other words, this was the most secret location within Zhenxiu Restaurant!

Seeing that Xiaocao was still holding two ducks in her hands, Zhou Zixu knew that she intended to teach the method of making salted duck, so he led her here.

When Head Chef Wang saw Xiaocao coming in, he acted in an intimate yet respectful manner as if he had seen his teacher. His direct disciple also looked at Xiaocao with bright eyes. He sighed with emotion within his heart, ‘It’s true that one shouldn’t judge a person by their looks. A little girl from a fisherman’s family, who was less than ten, was the creator of the famous dishes that supported half of Zhenxiu Restaurant.’ If he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, he seriously wouldn’t have believed it.

“Aiyo! Just look at you. It’s fine if you just come, why bring gifts?” Head Chef Wang took the ducks from Xiaocao’s hands and joked.

“Hey! An additional dish for your boss’s lunch! If he likes it, then we can talk about the rest later!” Yu Xiaocao shoved the half a portion of salted duck into Head Chef Wang’s hands.

Head Chef Wang wrinkled his brows as he looked at the salted duck in his hands and thought, ‘This isn’t just an ordinary ‘air-dried marinated duck’, is it? How can Miss Yu’s products not be an exquisite dish? There must be something special about this!’

“Why wait until noon? This fatty can’t wait any longer! Feng’er, go steam it… Miss Yu, is there anything else we need to do?” Head Chef Wang consulted modestly.

Yu Xiaocao shook her head and said, “Don’t pour out the broth produced when steaming the duck. It tastes better together! Oh, by the way, there’s only half a duck! Headmaster Yuan of Rongxuan Academy is still waiting to try the dish!”

Yu Xiaocao had to remind Head Chef Wang so that he wouldn’t keep all the salted duck. If that happened, wouldn’t that old man, Headmaster Yuan, hold a grudge against her? Old urchin, old urchin! When people got old, they needed to be coaxed!

The duck had already been cooked in brine, so it was ready after being steamed for thirty minutes. If someone accidentally entered the private room at this moment, they would definitely see a strange scene: It wasn’t meal time, but a group of people were sitting around a table and staring covetously at the only dish on the table—salted duck. They looked like a pack of wolves surrounding a poor little bunny.

“This old man is going to dive in!” Older people had thicker skin after all. Yuan Sinian was the first to pick up his chopsticks, grab a piece of the snow-white duck meat, and chewed it slowly in his mouth. With his eyes slightly narrowed, he chewed very slowly, and even his beard appeared to be tilted upwards.

“It has a full shape with a plump body and white skin. The meat is tender and compact.  The crisp and fragrance of the dish leads to an endless aftertaste.” A long time later, under everyone’s expectant gazes, Yuan Sinian gradually opened his eyes and moved his lips slightly, as if he was relishing the delicious taste of the salted duck.

While Yuan Sinian was evaluating the dish, Head Chef Wang had already stuffed a piece of duck meat into his mouth. After trying it, he also gave a high appraisal of: “It has crispy skin, crunchy bones, and tender meat. With the perfect amount of saltiness, it’s fatty but not greasy and lean but not dry.”

Although the three younger ones, including Yuan Yunxi, didn’t make exquisite comments, they expressed their appreciation for the ‘salted duck’ with practical actions.

Seeing that the young fellows were about to devour the duck meat, Yuan Sinian didn’t have time to savor the taste anymore and swiftly grabbed the last two pieces of duck meat at once. Under everyone’s envious gazes, he leisurely savored the last pieces of the delicacy.

Yu Xiaolian imagination of what nobles would be like was completely shattered as watched these so-called nobles nearly fighting for just a piece of duck meat. She inwardly thought, ‘He’s already so old, but he’s not even as reserved and well-mannered as my younger brother!’

“Miss Yu, are you selling this salted duck’s recipe to us with the usual conditions?” The head manager had only tried one piece of duck meat, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it within his heart. Later, when ‘salted duck’ is added to Zhenxiu Restaurant’s menu, he, the manager, definitely wouldn’t miss out on it!

Yu Xiaocao glanced at Third Young Master Zhou with a slight smile and didn’t say anything.

After experiencing the popularity of the roasted chicken, Zhou Zixu naturally knew the value of this dish. He understood very clearly that with the roasted chicken and salted duck, it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Zhenxiu Restaurant’s ‘business would be flourishing every day’. The recipes for these two dishes were created by this indifferent and quick-witted young girl. In the future, she might have even more novel and delicious recipes. If he wanted to cooperate with her for a long time, he naturally had to adopt a long-term plan to secure bigger returns. Thus, it wasn’t suitable to buy a recipe with merely three hundred taels.

“I have a proposal. Xiaocao, let me know what you think about it!” Zhou Zixu was someone who worked on important matters, so he swiftly thought of an idea for discussion.

Yu Xiaocao looked at him and still had an indifferent smile on her face as she said, “Third Young Master, please speak!”

“Let’s take it as you, Xiaocao, making an investment with the salted duck and roasted chicken recipes. In the future, you will receive 10% of the profits for each roasted chicken or salted duck sold. You can either be paid monthly or annually. What do you think?” A 10% profit of a roasted chicken would be five mace, which was four times more than the dividend that Yu Xiaocao had expected. Hence one could clearly see Third Young Master Zhou’s sincerity.

Everyone at the table knew about the hot sale of Zhenxiu Restaurant’s roasted chicken. She would receive five mace per roasted chicken sold. Based on the calculation of a minimum of fifty chicken sold daily, she would receive over seven hundred taels in a month. In a year… Even Yuan Sinian, a great scholar who regarded money as dirt, couldn’t help but silently gasp.

Yu Xiaocao wasn’t an insatiably greedy person, so she shook her head with a smile, “Third Young Master, you’re being too courteous!! I have already sold the recipe for the roasted chicken to you. It has nothing to do with me how much you earn. Though I am a daughter of a peasant family, I can still adhere to the two words: ‘sincerity and honesty’!”

Yuan Sinian stroked his beautiful beard and gently nodded. Not many people would be able to reject a yearly income of around a thousand taels. As expected, the upbringing of this Yu Family was very special. With an older sister like this, Yu Fan’s character wouldn’t be too bad either. Yuan Sinian couldn’t help but think about accepting this student, as his last disciple.


[1] A child with clever and intelligent parents will do better than a child with dull and stupid ones.

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Myst's Thoughts

Craving duck 🤤🤤🤤

Translator: Myst