Chapter 161 - Getting Jealous

With her eyes widened, Yu Xiaocao looked at him strangely and said, “Godfather, the shares weren’t given away for free! I invested a hundred taels and the recipe for the oyster sauce, so I kind of feel that getting twenty percent dividends is still too little ah! This is something that we deserve. If I don’t take it, wouldn’t that just benefit that fellow, Third Young Master Zhou?”

Fang Zizhen finally realized that he had misunderstood the situation. He laughed to conceal his mistake and said, “So it turns out that the shares are something that we deserved to receive ah! My daughter is so capable. You’re already investing in a business at such a young age. Very good, very good! You’re definitely worthy of being my, Fang Zizhen’s, daughter!”

Yu Xiaocao was still concerned about the matter regarding the location of the oyster sauce factory, so she worriedly asked, “Godfather, is there really nothing we can do for our oyster sauce factory?”

Since it was his daughter’s business, Fang Zizhen naturally wouldn’t continue to deliberately cause trouble. He pretended to think for a while, and then said, “I just recalled the blueprint I have seen. When I go back, I will discuss it with the people at the Ministry of Works and do my best to keep your factory. Don’t worry, Godfather will help you!”

Only then did Yu Xiaocao smile and said, “Thank you, Godfather! If it’s too difficult to handle, then forget it! We can’t delay the progress of the harbor construction just because of our factory.”

“It’s not difficult, not difficult! Your godfather is still capable of putting a word in!! Daughter, what are we eating for lunch? Don’t we have pork belly? Let’s eat red braised pork. The red braised pork you make is fragrant and soft, and fatty but not greasy. It really suits Godfather’s taste!” Fang Zizhen deliberately shifted the topic to the dishes for fear that his clever daughter would notice something.

Third Young Master Zhou, who was beside them, seemed to have noticed something. But, this young boy also didn’t understand why the imperial envoy seemed to be quite unsatisfied with him. Today, if it weren’t for Xiaocao, he probably wouldn’t be able to keep the factory that he worked so hard for during these past few months. Although the Zhou Family were imperial merchants, they could only concede to government officials who had real power and authority!

The problem was solved, so Yu Xiaocao returned to the kitchen. First, she baked a small portion of the sandworms over a small fire to make dried sandworms. Then she assigned a task to Yu Hang. She asked him to take the dried sandworms to Madam Mao’s house and borrow the small stone mill, and then grind the dried sandworms into powder. Sandworm powder can enhance the taste of food. It was much safer and more environmentally friendly than the MSG in her previous life!

With the remaining sandworms, she made a plate of garlic steamed sandworms, a bowl of sandworms and spare ribs soup, and also stir-fried some with chives as a side dish. In addition, there was also the oil-dripping braised pork and several plates of stir-fried vegetables seasoned with sandworm powder. Although they didn’t make preparations in advance, it was still a sumptuous feast.

The dishes made with sandworms received unanimous praise from everyone. Fang Zizhen especially favored the ‘garlic steamed sandworms’, which was mostly eaten by him. The tasty and crisp sandworms, complemented by the unique taste of garlic, was simply too delicious!

The sandworms that Yu Xiaocao kept were big, meaty, and of high quality. The sandworms and spare ribs soup was as white as milk. It tasted very delicious, refreshingly sweet and nourishing. Even Madam Liu, who was afraid of the worms, drank a full bowl.

The sautéed vegetables seasoned with sandworm powder was also much more delicious than usual. Even Third Young Master Zhou was very surprised and thought that Xiaocao’s cooking skills had improved again, exceeding that of Head Chef Wang, who had decades of experience.

Before he could speak, Yu Xiaocao said mysteriously, “I just came up with another seasoning recipe. You just tried it, so give me some feedback ah! If you think it’s good, we can mass produce it in our oyster sauce factory and sell it throughout the country…”

Third Young Master Zhou’s eyes lit up and said in surprise, “You mean, the unique taste of these vegetable dishes was due to the usage of your newly developed condiment? Xiaocao, you’re a genius among geniuses! I was just about to ask you why the greens taste even more delicious today! Quickly write down the recipe, and I’ll give you another ten percent of the shares!”

In this way, she would possess thirty percent of the shares for the factory. Yu Xiaocao felt as if she could see little silver ingots continuously flying towards her. She was so happy that her eyes narrowed into a seam. She immediately nodded without any hesitation, “But I want to ponder over the recipe again and try to make it even more perfect!”

With just sandworm powder alone, others would quickly see through the recipe and imitate it. She prepared to add in kelp powder and a small amount of spice. In fact, she really did have some talent for cooking. She was able to find the best ratio in a few days, and it was far more delicious that the simple sandworm powder. While she was experimenting, she also churned out the recipe for five-spice powder, which she also handed to Third Young Master Zhou.

As a result, their factory wouldn’t just be an oyster sauce factory. All the condiments produced by them would be called ‘Haitian’, which included ‘Haitian Oyster Sauce’, ‘Haitian MSG’, ‘Haitian Five-spice Powder’, and ‘Haitian Fermented Bean Curd’… Later, under Yu Xiaocao’s suggestion, they added two more condiments, ‘Haitian Soy Sauce’ and ‘Haitian Vinegar’, which made Haitian’s production of condiments even more complete. This would be recounted later.

At this time, Fang Zizhen was somewhat dissatisfied with the brat from the Zhou Family talking cheerfully and humorously with his daughter, causing her to laugh merrily again and again. From time to time, he would shoot daggers at Third Young Master Zhou, which made Third Young Master Zhou slightly restless. He wondered if he should ask Xiaocao what he did to offend the imperial envoy so he could have the chance to make up for his mistakes. In the future, when his business grew bigger, there would be a lot of times when he had to deal with government officials. If he didn’t find out the reason, he was afraid that there would be future troubles.  

Fang Zizhen listened to Xiaocao enthusiastically talk about the prospects of the factory. He found the perfect opportunity and interjected with a smile, “Daughter, the sandworms taste really good! It must have been hard for you to come up with these dishes.”

Yu Xiaocao smiled at him and said, “Godfather, if it’s delicious, then you should eat more! The sandworms not only taste good, but their nutritional value isn’t any less than shark fin and abalones! On another day, I’ll make some more sandworm powder for you to bring back for Godmother when you return to the capital. I’ll write down the cooking methods so Godmother can also try the delicacies of the seaside!”

Fang Zizhen drank a big mouthful of the sandworms and spare ribs soup and nodded, “Your godmother really liked the tomatoes that you told me to bring back last time. She especially likes the method of eating it with sugar after heating it slightly… By the way, your godmother made several sets of clothing for you, and she also told me to bring over some snacks from the capital. They’re all in my luggage. I’ll go get them for you.”

Xiaoocao quickly stopped her godfather, who was about to stand up, and smiled, “Godfather, it’s not like it’s urgent. You should eat first! This is your favorite red-braised pork. Here, this piece has the perfect ratio of fat and lean meat!”

Fang Zizhen’s face was full of happiness as he ate the piece of braised pork that his goddaughter personally gave him. He said, “My daughter is so considerate! Father didn’t dote on you in vain!”

Yu Hai looked jealously at the piece of braised pork in Fang Zizhen’s bowl. He coughed twice and looked at his younger daughter. After Yu Xiacoao also gave him a piece of meat, he finally showed a slight smile on his face.

Madam Liu, who was beside him, watched her husband’s immature behavior and couldn’t help but smile with her head lowered. He was already such a grown man, yet he was still competing with others for favor. Moreover, it was for their younger daughter’s attention. Why didn’t she know that her husband had such a cute side?

With her chopsticks, Madam Liu picked up some stir-fried sandworms with chives and put it in Yu Hai’s rice bowl. Yu Hai looked up at her. Usually, his wife seldom got food for him in the presence of outsiders. What was going on today? When he looked up and saw his wife’s gentle and understanding gaze, Yu Hai’s face instantly flushed. What was wrong with him? Xiaocao was his own flesh and blood. Even though she had a godfather now, it still wouldn’t change the fact that they were blood-related family. How could he feel uncomfortable just because of a piece of braised pork? He was seriously becoming more and more childish as he got older!

In the days that followed, the Yu Family became busy again. Except for those who went to sell braised food at the docks, everyone else was mobilized by Xiaocao to go dig sandworms at the beach. At times, when Fang Zizhen wasn’t working or Little Shitou came back during break, they would also be ordered to work at the beach.

With the little divine stone as her secret weapon, Yu Xiaocao was the person who caught the most every day. Sometimes, even if all the sandworms that the entire family caught were together, it still wasn’t as much as Yu Xiaocao alone. In order to not catch all the sandworms on the beach, Xiaocao constantly changed the area where she catches the worms.

The other villagers were perplexed by the family frequently digging spoon worms. Tongren Medicine Hall wasn’t accepting spoon worms anymore, so why were they still digging them? Several families, who were more acquainted with them, came to inquire one after another. Yu Xiaocao didn’t hide it from them and taught them several simple methods of eating sandworms. When they saw the dried sandworms in the Yu Family’s courtyard, they had already gotten the urge to hoard some dried sandworms.

After all, the fishermen of Dongshan Village depended on the sky to make a living. If the weather at sea was terrible for a period of time, most of the villagers of Dongshan Village, who relied on the sea to make a living, may lose their source of income. Most of the villagers were poor. The impact of them not going out to the sea for several days might not be very apparent, but if they didn’t go out to the sea for half a month, or for the entire month, many families would go hungry. Being able to dress warmly and eat one’s fill had always been the pursuit of the villagers of Dongshan Village.   

Disregarding the taste of the sandworms, they had learned from the Yu Family that the sandworms were definitely edible. It wasn’t easy to store sandworms, but dried sandworms would be fine. If they ran out of food one day, they could resolve this urgent matter by using dried sandworms to stew soup.

For a while, a unique scenery appeared along the coast of Dongshan Village: Villagers of Dongshan Village with various tools were either bending down, sticking their butts out, or laying on the sand, and looking for the traces of spoon worms.

Zhenxiu Restaurant also immediately introduced several dishes with spoon worms or dried spoon worms as their ingredient. Their unique taste won the praise of many customers.  

As soon as the Zhenxiu Restaurant in the capital opened, it received unanimous praise from customers for their five specialties: roasted chicken, osmanthus duck, braised food, spoon worm dishes, and oyster sauce dishes. It even attracted many of the customers of several long-established restaurants in the capital! Zhenxiu Restaurant became an instant success and swiftly gained a firm foothold in the capital with its endless specialty dishes.

At this time, Haitian Condiment Factory had also begun operating. Marine products like oysters and sandworms were needed for oyster sauce and sandworm powder MSG. Zhenxiu Restaurant using sandworms as a cooking ingredient also increased the demand for sandworms. As a result, Third Young Master Zhou sent people to various fishing villages to purchase and collect these marine goods. 

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Myst's Thoughts

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Translator: Myst