Chapter 270 - Roasted Duck

“Actually, the duck needed for the fruit-scented roasted duck needs to be raised in a free-range and has to be thin. If it’s too fat, then it would turn out too greasy. Also, there’s a certain ratio for the wood from the jujube trees, pear trees, apple trees, and other fruit trees that are used. I will write down the proportions for you later!”

“For fruit-scented roasted duck, the duck must be marinated in 28 kinds of spices, not a single one can be missing. I’ll send you the proportions of the type of spices later. Let Uncle Wang think it over! The difference between a hanging furnace and the braising furnace is that with the braising furnace, you can check the duck at any time while it’s being roasted. After putting the duck into the furnace, the position of the duck should be changed regularly with the rod to make sure the duck is evenly cooked!”

The differences in professions made one feel worlds apart. Third Young Master Zhou felt bewildered as he listened. He carefully collected the directions and precautions Yu Xiaocao wrote down. After thinking he asked, “How about...I let Head Chef Wang come back and consult you on this personally?”

Yu Xiaocao shook her head and said, “The capital’s Zhenxiu Restaurant is currently going through a turbulent period. If Uncle Wang were to be called back again, I’m afraid the business will suffer a disastrous decline. Aren’t Uncle Wang’s two apprentices based in Tanggu Town? Currently, Tanggu Town’s market has been stable. Although it may be busy for one person, he should be able to handle it if there’s an additional assistant. Let either Brother Yang or Brother Liu learn the techniques of making this roasted duck!” 

Head Chef Wang’s two apprentices, Yang Feng and Liu Bi, had already finished their apprenticeship. Their skills in making braised roasted chicken and salted ducks weren’t inferior to their master’s. Between the two, Yang Feng was more talented and able to accept new things quicker. As such, he was selected to learn how to make the fruit-scented roasted duck from Yu Xiaocao.

However, the most pressing matter was building the oven. Third Young Master Zhou saw that the dishes were being served and Prince Yang had no intention of letting him stay for the meal. So he stood up to take his leave, “Xiaocao, as expected you didn’t let me down! I’ll invite you to a meal another day to show you my thanks! I’ll go ask someone to make an oven in the back kitchen first, enjoy your meal!”

After Third Young Master Zhou went out, Zhu Junyang looked at Yu Xiaocao and waited for her to explain.

Yu Xiaocao touched her face and asked him strangely, "Is there something dirty on my face? Why are you looking at me like that?"

"Was the osmanthus duck recipe for the Zhenxiu Restaurant given by you?" Zhu Junyang lightly asked but he didn't forget to point at the delicious dishes on the table and instructed, "Duck meat!"

Yu Xiaocao, who had been waiting on this lord and walking around all morning, had been hungry for a very long time. She thought she could finally have a peaceful lunch, but ever since they entered the private room, Head Steward Liu had played the disappearance game and she couldn't find a trace of him at all. The young prince's arm couldn't bend, so she naturally had to wait on him during the meal. 

Alas... she silently sighed, dragged the chair over to the young prince's side, and picked up the chopsticks in front of him. After picking up a piece of osmanthus duck, she carefully removed the bones from it and stuffed it into Zhu Junyang's mouth.

Taking advantage of the time the young prince spent chewing, she hurriedly ate a few mouthfuls of vegetables looking as if she had been hungry for eight hundred years.

"This prince is asking you something!" Zhu Junyang slowly swallowed the delicious piece of duck meat and gently kicked Yu Xiaocao's chair, continuing their previous conversation.

Yu Xiaocao took a big generous gulp of tea swallowing the food in her mouth and nodded, "Yes! Is there a problem?"

"No wonder you don't have to wait in line to buy osmanthus duck at Zhenxiu Restaurant! But, how did you get the recipe for the osmanthus duck?" Zhu Junyang asked as he pointed at the roasted chicken near his hand.

Yu Xiaocao forgot to change her chopsticks and used her own chopsticks to pick up a piece of the chicken leg. Just as she was about to put it into the young prince's mouth, Zhu Junyang turned his head to the side and said with dislike, "Change the chopsticks, who would want to eat your saliva?"

Yu Xiaocao curled her lips and complained in heart, 'Clean freak! Even if you are willing to, I'm not willing to let you! Wouldn't that be considered an indirect kiss then? I am a virgin in my previous life and in this life, I still have my first kiss.’ She smoothly put the piece of chicken in her bowl, changed chopsticks, and fed him another piece of chicken. After Zhu Junyang ate it, she laughed and clapped her hands, "Do you know what you just ate? Chicken butt——"

Upon receiving a sharp glare from the young prince, Yu Xiaocao immediately caved, "All right, I'm lying to you! Don't be so serious, it's just a little joke! Do you want to eat chicken skin? The strongest flavor and essence of the roast chicken is here, the chicken skin..."

Zhu Junyang didn't listen to her rambling. He looked at the other chicken drumstick on the plate and said, "Drumstick!"

After successfully eating the drumstick, he continued the conversation topic, "Osmanthus duck, fruit-scented roasted duck, where did you get these recipes?

Yu Xiaocao’s eyes darted around and she answered in a seemingly serious manner, "If I said that I have an extraordinary innate talent and these delicious dishes are known without any effort, would you believe me?

"Tell the truth!" Splitting out the chicken bone in his mouth, Zhu Junyang slightly glanced at her and said with a commanding tone. 

Yu Xiaocao purposely sighed deeply and shook her head. "Ah... the world's moral degeneration is getting worse day by day, and human hearts are no longer what they used to be. No one believes the truth these days..."

"Use human speech!" Zhu Junyang looked at Yu Xiaocao's exaggerated performance and secretly felt that it was funny but he didn't express anything.

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes and said, "Who's not using human speech? How can you call me names?"

"Alright, alright! I'll tell you!" Under the sharp eyes of Zhu Junyang, Yu Xiaocao surrendered once again, "Two years ago, I went with Zhao Han, the grandson of General Zhao, into the mountains to catch rabbits. By accident, we became separated and I met an injured old man with white hair. Seeing that he was so pitiful, I saved him with my dabbling medical skills. The old man felt that he was unable to repay my kindness, so he gave me the fragments of a recipe book. All the dishes I know come from that book."

After she finished speaking, she showed a 'this time you should believe it' expression.

Zhu Junyang’s subordinates, who he sent to investigate her, didn't mention this event. He slightly frowned. Perhaps, because it happened deep in the mountains and the little lass didn't tell anyone when she came back, so it was left out?

"Where are the fragments?" Zhu Junyang asked after instructing Yu Xiaocao to give him a bite of a dish again.

Yu Xiaocao pointed to her head and made a triumphant expression, "It’s in here! It's a magic weapon for our family to make money. Of course, it's safer to keep it in my mind! Don't worry, I have a good memory. I'll never forget it!"

Looking at the little lass’s proud expression, Zhu Junyang didn't ask anymore and focused on commanding Yu Xiaocao to get food for him.

'I finally came up with a plausible explanation!' Yu Xiaocao quietly sighed in her mind. This story was pretty good. In the future, if someone asked her why she knew so many dishes she could just use it as a reply. Who cares if they believed it or not, if they had the ability, then they could go investigate it!

In order to launch the fruit-scented roasted duck as soon as possible to compete with Defeng Restaurant, Third Young Master Zhou built the oven overnight according to the requirements Xiaocao had given. He also found branches that had been cut in the spring from nearby households that planted fruit trees. Once everything was ready, he invited Yu Xiaocao over the next day!

Royal Prince Yang said that he had nothing to do and followed along. Yu Xiaocao showed step by step how to marinate with the spice, how to turn while roasting, and how to control the fire. While showing Yang Feng how to do it, she also gave him detailed explanations.

When the first batch of roasted duck came out, it smelled delicious. Even the customers eating in the front could smell the scent of the roasted duck. They all asked what new dish Zhenxiu Restaurant was launching that had such a strong fragrance. The head manager took the opportunity to advertise the fruit-scented roasted duck in the restaurant. He also said that at noon, no matter if they were dining in a private room or in the dining hall, he would present a plate of roasted duck for sampling.

During lunch time, there were more than fifty tables in the dining hall and private rooms. Of course, they couldn't send a whole duck to each table. Each table would get half a duck and a total of twenty-five ducks would be roasted. Yang Feng, who was indeed very talented, quickly mastered the technique of making the roasted ducks.

Yu Xiaocao personally roasted more than ten ducks before letting Yang Feng handle the rest while she gave directions on the side. By noon, thirty roasted ducks had been made. Yu Xiaocao also took advantage of the extra time to make a pot of sweet bean sauce.  

The roasted duck alone wouldn’t be able to show the uniqueness of Zhenxiu Restaurant, so Yu Xiaocao also launched a ‘one duck, three meals’ menu. First of all, cut and put the crispy duck skin with a thin layer of meat on a plate. Serve it with cucumber strips, scallions, and other side dishes. When eating, add sweet bean sauce and wrap it in a thin pancake. For the next dish, cut thin shreds of meat off the duck and make 'stir-fried shredded duck'. Lastly, the bones were used to make delicious duck bone soup.

When the fruit-scented roasted duck was served to the tables, it was met with many praises. At this time, Yu Xiaocao, Royal Prince Yang, and Third Young Master Zhou sat in their exclusive private room enjoying the delicious ‘one duck, three meals’. With an 'outsider' in the room, Prince Yang saved Yu Xiacao's reputation and didn't let her serve him. Yu Xiaocao breathed a sigh of relief—she could finally have a peaceful meal!

Yu Xiaocao put the duck meat and duck skin, sweet sauce, green onions, and cucumber on a thin pancake and rolled it up. She opened her mouth wide and ate it in one mouthful. She chewed it carefully with her eyes closed, and her expression looked like a cat that was eating a fish.

The chef of the Zhenxiu Restaurant had really good skills with the knife. The slice of duck meat was thin and even, the shredded duck meat was long and thin, and the bone soup was also delicious. Yu Xiaocao hadn't had such delicious roasted duck in a long time; her hands kept wrapping the pancakes and she kept eating with gusto.

Head Steward Liu got the look his master gave him and quickly learned from Miss Yu's actions, making a duck meat roll. Zhu Junyang glanced at him and lightly said, "I don't eat green onions!"

Head Steward Liu hurriedly asked for forgiveness. Why did he make such a low-level mistake? Putting down the duck roll in his hand, he made another one without green onions and place it by his master's mouth. Zhu Junyang took a bite in a refined manner. The skin of the duck was crispy, and the duck meat was tender with a light fruity fragrance. When paired with the unique taste of the sweet bean sauce, it made people unable to stop eating.

“The meat is tender and the flavor is rich. It's not bad!" Zhu Junyang gave a positive opinion after eating a roll.

Third Young Master Zhou nodded his head and said, "Xiaocao's products are all top quality! I've eaten Defeng Restaurant's furnace roasted duck. That taste is nothing compared to our fruit-scented roasted duck! The Zhenxiu Restaurant in the capital is saved!"

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Myst's Thoughts

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Translator: Elaine