Chapter 29.2: Ice and Fire Nine Layer Heavens
Six dishes had been served to the judges; of those, Nian Bing’s three dishes were covered by a layer of faint white mist. Marquis Nuo Ya looked at Nian Bing, then at Liao Feng, whose head was lowered in contemplation. With a smile, he said, “If the two chefs would please introduce their dishes, we can begin tasting. Liao Feng, you first.” Bowls and chopsticks had already been passed out, Xue Ji and Jin Hao included. Every person was holding their chopsticks, preparing to move. Their gazes were completely focused on Nian Bing’s three dishes plated on ice.
Liao Feng shook his head; his eyes filled with a complicated emotion as he looked at Nian Bing next to him. “I think that there is no point in me introducing anything. I only want to try Chef Nian Bing’s dishes.”
The Marquis Nuo Ya’s gaze turned to Nian Bing. With a smile, he said, “Then I will ask Chef Nian Bing to introduce his dishes.”
Nian Bing looked at the three plates covered by ice. Calmly, he said, “These three dishes are a part of that unifies ice and fire. I call this set, Ice and Fire Nine Layer Heavens.” While speaking, Nian Bing gestured to the first dish. He said, “The main ingredient of this dish is an ordinary chicken. I call it Ice and Fire Exploding Lotus Chicken. Originally, it was just plain chicken, but I first fried the diced green onions and ginger to bring out the flavor then saturated the chicken in it. After frying the chicken until it was about eighty percent cooked, I extinguished the flame, and wrapped it in lotus leaves before freezing over the outside. Because the chicken was hot, under the effect of the two extreme temperatures, the flavor of the lotus leaves was released more effectively, completely mixing with the chicken. Finally, I bombarded the chicken with the exploding flame spell, making the ice and lotus leaves disappear. This allowed the flavor of the lotus leaf to completely fuse into the chicken, and also allowed the chicken to finish cooking as well. Thus, the chicken, under the two extreme temperatures of ice and fire, became more tender. The skin is golden crispy. As each judge will see for themselves, this dish does not have seasoning. This is not a mistake. I did this deliberately. Cooking that pays attention to bringing out the original flavor of the ingredients is the true cooking skill. Therefore, the most important point of this Ice and Fire Exploding Lotus Chicken is its unique fragrance. I used ice to cover the outside in order to preserve the Ice and Fire Exploding Lotus Chicken’s temperature and fragrance. Please try it while it’s hot.”
Everyone moved at the same time. No one paid attention to Liao Feng’s three dishes; instead, they made a beeline for Nian Bing’s Ice and Fire Exploding Lotus Chicken. A thick fragrance billowed into everyone’s face once the outside ice layer was cracked by chopsticks, revealing the golden chicken. Everyone moved towards the chicken one after the other. The chicken skin was extremely crispy. Right after the first bite of the chicken, all the judges, including Jin Hao, all made the exact same move: extending their chopsticks for a second bite. Off to the side, Liao Feng was chewing the tender chicken. His facial expression continued to change, not to sadness, but to pleasant surprise.
“Brother Nian, I really admire you. Your Ice and Fire Exploding Lotus Chicken not only completely expresses the flavor of the chicken, but also stacks eight kinds of different flavors. Some are strong, some are weak. I think there are eight – no, nine kinds flavor! No wonder it’s called Ice and Fire Nine Layer Heavens series. Even if I improved my dishes, it couldn’t top your chicken!”
Seeing such sincerity from a proud person like Liao Feng, Nian Bing could not help but improve his impression of the young man before him. Before he could say so much, he heard Marquis Nuo Ya shout, “Old Xue, don’t eat so much! Leave me a little. My chicken leg, and my…”
Nian Bing lowered his head to look and was shocked cold. At this time, there was not a bit of chicken left, not even the slightest residue was left. All the judges also seemed to have neglected the rice as well. Uncaring of the greasy food, they had directly used their hands to eat. Even Luo Rou, who had a refined personality, was holding a chicken wing in her hands to eat. In front of such gourmet food, no one cared about being elegant.
Nian Bing smiled bitterly, “Please slow down a bit everyone. Aren’t there still two more dishes?” Pointing to the lamb ribs dish, he said, “The lamb ribs are the principal ingredients of the dish. It is called Ice and Fire Blood Rain Ribs. I added a small amount of more than ten different seasonings to the dish. After all the seasonings were mixed in with the tomato juice, not only do they not get rid of the stench, it serves to set off the smell. It is then stewed using ice and fire, two extreme magics, which allowed the flavor of the seasonings and the tomato juice completely saturate the lamb ribs. This brings out the stench of the lamb. The outer layer of tomato juice is already cool, but the lamb ribs on the inside are definitely hot. The outside being cold and the inside hot, gives birth to another flavor.
He hadn’t finished speaking when the judges, whose mouths were still chewing on the chicken, already started reaching out their chopsticks for the Ice and Fire Blood Rain Ribs. The ice covering was shattered desperately. The judges quickly determined that Nian Bing’s comments were extremely accurate after eating the dish. This time, Luo Rou had become smarter. With a piece of lamb rib in her mouth, she immediately poked her third chopsticks into the third dish, the soup made with fish.
“Waa, how fresh! Why haven’t I tasted this kind of umami from snow fish before?” Luo Rou’s hands grabbed a spoon. When she had drunk a mouthful of soup, she had become enchanted by the dish in the eight part ice plate.
Nian Bing smiled and said, “This Ice and Fire Eight Extreme Delicacy is the most skillful of the dishes in the Ice and Fire Nine Layer Heaven series. Everyone should have seen, from when I was making the dish, that I used snow fish to make soup. I even chopped the fish bones into a fine paste. Ordinary people that cook snow fish make two mistakes. One, they are unable to remove all of the earthy, fishy smell of the Snow Fish. The other problem is that they toss the snow fish bones. The first problem can be solved very easily by pulling out the tendons of the fish. Everybody saw the white strings that I pulled out—those were the fish tendons. Those tendons are also known as odor tendons. You only have to take them out and the fishy smell will naturally disappear. As for the fish bones, each of them have fish oils inside. Since that’s the tastiest part of the fish,putting the entire snow fish into the pot is naturally the best decision. The Ice and Fire Eight Extremes Delicacy has nine main ingredients. That is, snow fish and the other eight kinds of ordinary ingredients. When the snow fish soup was boiling, I put it into each part of the eight part ice plate, which in turn cooked the other eight finely shredded ingredients into the snow fish soup. Thus, the specialty of this Ice and Fire Eight Extremes Delicacy is the eight distinct flavors. The dish is actually a soup – all you need to do is drink the liquid. Right now, the soup’s temperature should be comfortable. Please try it, everyone.”
No matter if it was the employees of the Pure Wind House, the plainly clothed bodyguards of the marquis, or the personal guards of the earl, they all knew what it meant to sweep past like a destructive wind, to devour like a wolf and swallow like a tiger1. Golden Chef Liao Feng’s three dishes looked extremely beautiful on the outside, but compared to Nian Bing’s extremely eye catching Ice and Fire Nine Layer Heaven set which was surrounded by white mist, their beauty simply could not compare. Once Nian Bing finished his explanation, the three dishes had disappeared entirely. Every single of the judges had an expression of wanting to continue, nearly chewing on those plates made of ice.
Jin Hao embarrassedly put down his eating utensils. He focused his gaze on Nian Bing and said suddenly, “I have been immersed in the profession of foodstuffs for half my life, but I have never tasted such delicious dishes. Chef Nian Bing, if you desire to come to our Grand Pavilion, I will accept any condition of yours.”
Nian Bing said indifferently, “So what you’re saying is that Owner Jin admits defeat? No need for every judge to make a decision?”
Jin Hao’s eyes shown. “There’s no point. I know very well what kind of dishes Liao Feng can make, and I know I have lost. What’s more, I lost very thoroughly. I really cannot comprehend where on earth Brother Xue found you. I, Jin Hao, am not a sore loser. A loss is a loss. I hope you can think over my offer. The Lords Marquis and Earl, Jin Hao has business, I must take my leave.” After speaking, he walked away from the judges table, and departed from the gates of the Pure Wind House.
Although the chefs who had been assisting Liao Feng left with Jin Hao, Liao Feng turned to Nian Bing to ask, “Brother Nian, could you tell me how you could control the chicken’s flavor to have so much depth?”
Nian Bing smiled indifferently and said, “The most important thing is heat control. Even though the chicken does have to be cooked, the temperature at which the chicken is cooked, as well as the amount of ginger and scallion mixed in, can be controlled. This can vary the temperature greatly; such are the wonders of magic. I also noticed from the dishes you made that you pay the most attention to the appearance. Though I imagine the flavor is pretty good, it would still be worse than what the expectation would be. If you focus on transforming the flavor from now on, you should progress in your cooking.”
Liao Feng’s eyes held a note of respect. “I have received your teachings. If we meet again, I will ask you for advice.” Finished speaking, he paid his respects to the earl and the marquis then turned to leave.
The marquis recovered his expression and stood. He looked at Nian Bing with eyes of praise. “There is no need for me to say anything else. Nian Bing, your decisive superiority has earned you victory in this competition. However, I am very curious on how you could simultaneously use two opposing magics? Although I am not familiar with magic, I know that this violates common sense.”
Nian Bing thrust his hand into his chest, and fished out no less than thirty scrolls of all shapes and sizes. He said with a smile, “Lord Marquis, please take a look. In reality, I am just a ice magic mage who relied on these to produce all of the flames. I exchanged the ice magic scrolls I had made at a magic store for fire magic scrolls. When combined with my culinary skills, producing these results is only natural.”
The Marquis took a look at the amount of magic scrolls and couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. After all, even the worst scroll was still expensive. The small amount of high rank scrolls would have been particularly expensive. There was no need to see for himself, he knew that the amount of magic scrolls used could be said to have cost a fortune. He turned his head to Long Zhi. “President Long, you are always asking for money, but I see now that your Mage Association has bountiful resources!”
Long Zhi looked at Nian Bing and said, “Lord Marquis, please do not be mistaken. These scrolls are owned by Nian Bing himself. He is a genius in the field of making magic scrolls. His success rate is high enough that he has many to keep for himself. They weren’t supplied by the association.”
The marquis laughed and said, “No matter. Nian Bing’s consummate culinary skills have made me gasp in amazement. Perhaps, even the imperial chef of His Majesty the King’s imperial palace could not compare to him. Such a great Ice and Fire Nine Layer Heaven, a great Ice and Fire Nine Layer Heaven! Putting magic in cooking is really a novel field. Maybe I will bring up this idea to the culinary schools.”
Next to him, Luo Rou got to her feet and said with a smile, “Uncle Nuo Ya, bringing up the idea is useless. How many mages would have a desire to learn cooking? Uncle, since Nian Bing has won, shouldn’t you give him the prize from the bet?”
Marquis Nuo Ya flushed red. The box that contained the Holy Brilliance Stone had been next to his hand the whole time. He had a really hard time parting with the dazzlingly expensive light element gem; but because of his position, it would not be good for him to display such greed. Nodding his head, he spoke, “Right, I, the marquis, almost forgot. Nian Bing, here you go. This is your prize.”
Nian Bing received the box made out of lead and passed it to Xue Ji next to him. “Uncle, it’s your win.”
Xue Ji did not take it. He smiled while saying, “No, it’s your win. You used the Proud Sky Knife to make the bet and won. Although the Proud Sky knife doesn’t completely belong to you, I’ve already sold it. Do you need to give me the things you won from your own bet?”
Nian Bing’s face was blank for a moment, but looking into the deep gaze of Xue Ji, he gripped the square box tightly in his hand. He spoke while smiling. “Then for me to refuse would be impolite.” He did not want give Xue Ji an opportunity to impose any conditions. Without trying to be secretive, he put the Holy Brilliance Stone into his chest pocket. Although such an action was poor manners, Nian Bing didn’t really care because the Holy Brilliance Gem was such a treasure.
Long Zhi came out from behind the judges table and paid his respects to the marquis and earl. “Everyone, the competition has concluded. Big Brother Xue, if there’s nothing else, please let Nian Bing come back with us.”
Xue Ji and Long Zhi’s relationship was very good. Moreover, today Nian Bing had triumphed greatly over the Grand Pavilion, so Xue Ji’s mood was very good. “Okay. You guys can go back. Nian Bing, I will send a carriage to pick you up at nightfall.”
Marquis Nuo Ya was still somewhat unsatisfied. “I haven’t eaten my fill from those three dishes. Nian Bing, I want you to make two more dishes for us to sample.”
Nian Bing could really not endure this. As a top-class chef, he didn’t strive to learn the culinary arts to pander to the whims of noblemen and high ranking officials. However, he also couldn’t reject the owner of Ice and Snow City. In this difficult situation, Luo Rou came to help him. “Uncle Nuo Ya, if we eat everything at once, there won’t be any way for use to savor the taste. . Nian Bing also used a great amount of magic, just let him rest. Tomorrow, we will come again. Isn’t that the same thing?”
Marquis Nuo Ya heard Luo Rou’s words, and extraordinarily, he did not persist in his request. He nodded his head. “Since Rou’er has spoken, then we will be done here for today. Old Xue! Bring out the most valuable liquor in your collection. We will drink a few cups. That should be okay, no? Nian Bing, you go back first. Tomorrow, I, the Marquis, will definitely come again to sample your handiwork. The Ice and Fire Nine Layer Heaven series. As expected, it was very creative.
- Two ways of saying that they ate a lot, very quickly ↩