Gluttonous Crown Princess Chapter 10.1
At the moment, the Eastern Palace’s kitchen was bustling with activity.
Hearing that the crown princess was going to cook personally, a group of large and sturdy cooks stood neatly in a row, looking ready to await orders at any time.
Generally speaking, when ladies of aristocratic families “cook personally”, they merely stood by the stove and moved their lips, instructing the cooks to prepare the ingredients, cut the vegetables, put them in the wok, then, before the food was plated, they would give the food a couple of stirs with a spatula, taste it, and the “cooking in person” was done.
All the cooks in the Kitchens thought the crown princess would be the same, but never in their wildest dreams had they thought that the crown princess would actually begin cooking?
They heard the “duk-duk-duk” of rhythmic chopping, and the plump, dark wood ear fungus became thin slivers, the shiitake mushrooms became uniform tiny cubes, the vivid red chilli peppers became thin slices of uniform thickness, the white and tender tofu became as fine as hair…
The Eastern Palace’ cooks were flabbergasted; such knife skills…
seemed better than theirs?!
Tao Ti had initially only wanted to take a look in the kitchen and understand the culinary landscape of this Great Yuan dynasty that did not exist in history, and hadn’t intended to cook today.
But when she saw that the resources in the kitchen were almost no different from those in modern times—all sorts of cooking vessels like woks, stewing pots and steamers were present, and all sorts of ingredients that were only imported in the later part of Chinese history like carrots, sweet potatoes, chilli peppers, corn, peanuts, tomatoes and onions were also available—she had to scratch the itch and couldn’t keep herself from rolling up her sleeves and getting to work.
She was making Hulatang1 now.
After eating a few consecutive days of light dishes, her tongue was about to go stale from blandness—she just had to have something deliciously spicy to eat.
Therefore, there was an ample amount of pepper in the soup, as well as finely chopped chilli paste.
Someone in the kitchen could not stand the overbearing spicy smell and raised her arm to cover her mouth and nose, sneezing several times in a row.
The chief steward of the Kitchens, Old Sun, breathed in the pungent yet alluring smell and asked gingerly, “Crown Princess, have you used a little too much chilli pepper?”
Tao Ti smiled, “It’s Hulatang after all, this delicious peppery and spicy taste is what we want.” As she spoke, she walked to another side and checked on the shuijian baos2 that were being steamed in another pot.
Outside the kitchen, Pei Yan could smell a tantalising aroma from a distance.
The palace attendants who had gathered outside the kitchen to watch the fun were also immersed in this strange fragrance and did not notice that the crown prince had arrived.
It was only when Fu Xirui coughed deliberately that the palace attendants came back to their senses and hurriedly greeted Pei Yan.
Pei Yan bade them to rise, then addressed one of them, “What have you all gathered here to look at?”
Head bowed, the palace attendant replied, “Your Highness, Crown Princess is cooking inside.”
Pei Yan was slightly stunned, and his thick eyebrows frowned slightly, “She’s… cooking?”
The palace attendant, “That’s right.”
Pei Yan’s lips flattened; he then walked into the kitchen.
As soon as he stepped into the kitchen, he was struck by a burst of strong aroma that made him a little dazed.
His throat also became choked with an itch, causing him to cough uncontrollably.
Hearing the movement, the group in the kitchen hurried to greet the crown prince.
Tao Ti turned around with a spoon in her hand; at the sight of the dashing Pei Yan at the entrance of the kitchen, her face also filled with surprise.
When she came back to her senses, she hurriedly put down the spoon, wiped her hands on her apron and walked hastily to him.
“Your Highness, why have you come? The kitchen is full of grease and fumes, and the chillies can irritate the nose, you’d better leave quickly.”
Pei Yan studied her and said, “Why are you cooking?”
Tao Ti was about to say, “Because of my cravings”, but before she could speak, a brusque voice interjected, “I didn't expect Crown Princess to be so virtuous, and even knows how to cook? But what is this, it’s so pungent, can it be eaten?”
Tao Ti was taken aback.
She raised her eyes towards the tall man in black behind Pei Yan, and her pretty brows wrinkled, Who’s this? He’s so rude.
Pei Yan glanced evenly at Zhan Ping, and introduced him to Tao Ti, “This is the second son of Marquis Wu'an, the Eastern Palace’s Left Guard, Zhan Ping.”
So, he was the commander of the Eastern Palace’s Guard.
Tao Ti looked at Zhan Ping.
In her memories, there was no enmity between her and Zhan Ping… So, was his attitude towards her because of the suicide attempt? Sigh, she really didn’t know how long it would take for her to wash herself clean of this unspeakable history…
“So, it’s Imperial Guardsman Zhan.” Tao Ti gave him a nod, then added, “Whether or not it can be eaten, you’ll know after giving it a try.”
Zhan Ping curled his lips, “Who’d want to eat that.”
Tao Ti glanced at him and said indifferently, “I won’t let you anyway.”
Zhan Ping choked and looked away, Who cares!
1 Hulatang: 胡辣汤; Also known as hot pepper soup or spicy soup, it’s a kind of Chinese traditional soup with origins in the Henan region, although today it is a popular breakfast item in northern China.
Hulatang is characterized by its thick, sticky texture and its spiciness, which is imparted by large amounts of black pepper and chilli powder.
2 Shuijian baos: 水煎包 shuijian bao; Literally translated as “Water Fried Baos”, they are baos that usually contain a meat filling that are first pan-fried to form a golden base, then a liquid dough is poured in and the lid is covered to steam till cooked.
The liquid dough forms a crispy base that connects all the baos together.
These baos are similar in terms of technique (pan-frying with liquid) to 生煎包 shengjian bao (pan-fried baos/ mantou in English), but are not the same in terms of type of dough, fillings, shape/size.
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