The Supporting Female Character Refuses to be Cannon Fodder Chapter 9

The waiter neatly dropped the towel and said, “Alright, boss, Master Jiang, follow me.”

Jiang Chan pursed her lips and followed the waiter through the winding corridor to the kitchen. The kitchen was bustling with activity, with two apprentices in their mid-teens and a chubby man—the one Jiang Chan had seen feeding the stray dog earlier.

He was standing there instructing the young apprentices on cutting vegetables. He pointed out any mistakes promptly, and although his voice was a bit loud, he was careful in teaching the young apprentices.

This reminded Jiang Chan of when Uncle Mo taught her. Thinking of this, Jiang Chan’s eyes softened a bit. Although she came to complete a task, it didn’t hurt to consider it as a life experience; there was no need to be too reserved.

“Master Fan, this is Master Xiao Jiang. The boss asked them to prepare two dishes for tasting.” The waiter efficiently relayed the boss’s instructions and hurried back to the front hall.

Master Fan assessed Jiang Chan, looking at her slender figure. Although he seemed a bit skeptical, he gestured for Jiang Chan to proceed as she pleased.

Jiang Chan wasn’t polite with Master Fan. She wandered around the kitchen, when she saw the mandarin fish in the water tank in the corner, she had an idea.

Now, only Jiang Chan, Master Fan, and the two apprentices were left in the kitchen. Jiang Chan walked over, lifted the plump mandarin fish, and nodded in satisfaction after a brief evaluation. “This weight is enough.”

Next was the moment for Jiang Chan to perform. Master Fan stood there, observing with a critical eye, and the two apprentices halted their actions, watching Jiang Chan intently.

As Jiang Chan scaled, gutted, and filleted the mandarin fish, her movements were fast and precise. Although Master Fan raised an eyebrow slightly, the fish-cleaning process was quite skillful.

When Jiang Chan sawed off the mandarin fish’s backbone and removed the chest thorn, Master Fan’s expression became more serious. Unconsciously, he took a couple of steps closer, carefully observing Jiang Chan’s next moves.

Holding a knife weighing about a pound, Jiang Chan seemed to handle it effortlessly. The filleting of the mandarin fish’s backbone was also quite meticulous. She cut the fish head diagonally from the chin, flattened it gently with the knife, and sliced along both sides of the backbone towards the tail (without cutting the fish tail).

Then, with the fish meat facing up, she made straight cuts at intervals of about one centimeter, followed by diagonal cuts with a knife spacing of about three centimeters, deep enough to reach the fish skin. Overall, the fish meat presented a diamond-shaped pattern.

At this point, it wasn’t clear what was happening. Jiang Chan’s performance wasn’t over yet. She sniffed, and in Master Fan’s widened eyes, she walked quickly and accurately toward a corner where a wine jar was discreetly hidden.

Master Fan couldn’t stand still now. “Little Jiang, this is top-quality Huadiao wine, quite rare.”

The implication was to use it sparingly to avoid wasting such a precious thing. Jiang Chan didn’t mind. She pulled the corners of her mouth. “I’ll use just a little, a mouthful’s worth.”

Seeing that Jiang Chan indeed took only a small amount just enough to cover the bottom of the bowl, Master Fan felt relieved. It wasn’t that he was against Jiang Chan; it was just that the Huadiao wine was indeed rare, and using wine to cook was not common.

Master Fan kept this question in mind, and Jiang Chan paid no attention to him. She mixed the obtained Huadiao wine with refined salt, spread it evenly on the prepared fish meat, and then coated it with dry starch.

In the eyes of Master Fan and the two apprentices, Jiang Chan picked up the fish tail, shook it slightly to remove excess powder, and only then did they see the mystery hidden in the fish meat.

Inside the fish meat, they saw it with their own eyes—the pattern had been completely transformed into a diamond-shaped pattern. But now, they saw that the fish skin was intact, looking very complete.

Master Fan opened his mouth wide. This was beyond his expectations. He hadn’t expected this seemingly petite youth to have such skills. What surprised him even more was that the ingredients could be carved into such patterns.

It wasn’t that Master Fan was ignorant; it was just that the culinary industry of this era was not well developed. People only focused on filling their stomachs. There were no eight major cuisines like those in later generations. The handling of ingredients was quite rough, even though knife skills were valued, they were not as strict as in later generations. Moreover, becoming a chef required inheritance.

Even in this era, there was soy sauce, but it was still relatively expensive, and ordinary families couldn’t afford it. Only many restaurants would use soy sauce. Ordinary families considered it good enough if their meals were cooked properly. So, after thinking about it all night, Jiang Chan decided to start with culinary skills.

Regardless of the era, skilled artisans were always in demand. Although her culinary skills couldn’t compare to those of later chefs, they were more than sufficient for a restaurant like this.

Under the admiring eyes of Master Fan and the two apprentices, Jiang Chan found vinegar, sugar, wine, broth, and wet starch, and cooked them into sweet and sour sauce. Actually, it would be better if there were tomato sauce. It was the peak of winter, and where could she find tomatoes, especially considering that tomatoes seemed to have come from outside?

Jiang Chan frowned, watching the oil in the pot. In this era, rapeseed cultivation was quite mature, and people had long been using rapeseed oil, which saved her some trouble.

When the oil temperature reached eighty percent, Jiang Chan flipped the two fish fillets, curled up the fish tails to form a squirrel shape, then lifted the fish neck with one hand and used chopsticks to clamp the other end, putting it in the oil for a brief fry to set the shape. Afterward, she immersed the entire fish into the oil until it turned a light yellow, then lifted it out. When the oil temperature reached eighty percent again, she put it back in for a second fry until it turned golden yellow, and placed the fish, with the decorated side facing up, on the fish plate.

Next, she coated the fish head with starch and fried it until it turned golden yellow, placing it in the fish plate to form a squirrel shape.

Leaving a little oil in the pot, she sautéed green onions until fragrant, then added minced garlic, diced bamboo shoots, diced shiitake mushrooms, and peas, stir-frying until cooked. She poured in the sweet and sour sauce, simmered it until thick, then added cooked lard and shrimp, stir-frying it evenly before drizzling with sesame oil.

The shopkeeper, who had been standing at the kitchen door without anyone noticing, watched Jiang Chan’s movements. The aroma was too enticing. He had been running this restaurant for many years, but he had never smelled such a delightful fragrance.

Beside him was a waiter who had been drawn by the aroma. The small kitchen was packed, but despite everyone sniffing, no one spoke, holding their breath and watching Jiang Chan’s movements.

Finally, it was the moment of the real performance. Jiang Chan poured the prepared sweet and sour sauce over the arranged mandarin fish. Upon contact with the hot oil, the already fried fish slices unfolded, emitting a “sizzling” sound—a normal sound during the frying process, but to the diners, it seemed particularly extraordinary.

The server sniffed, “This dish smells so good. I wonder what it tastes like. Boss, can you let me try it?”

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