42.2 The Seven Great Forbidden Techniques and the Five Distinguished Knives
Xue Jing peered into the pot suspiciously. “What is this Brocade Character Void Lattice. Ah…” In the boiling water she saw the noodles clearly forming characters; they didn’t look like noodles at all. Each noodle formed two characters that were one inch long and half an inch wide. The characters were written with a bold, powerful font, beautifully forming the words Ming Hui (明辉). Every strand of noodle was bent the same way, without the slightest difference. H-how could this be?
Ming Hui looked at the iron pot in stunned amazement. “This is one of the Five Distinguished Knife Techniques in the culinary world: Brocade Character Void Lattice. I-I actually had the fortune to witness it with my own eyes. Master! Did you know that I have actually seen the Brocade Character Void Lattice?”
Xue Jing shook Ming Hui and asked with concern, “Are you okay?”
Ming Hui shook her head and replied, “Thank you. I’m fine, just too excited. The Five Distinguished Knife Techniques of the Culinary World are much more difficult than the pastry chef’s Seven Great Forbidden Techniques. The Five Distinguished Knife Techniques have long since faded into legend. The Seven Great Forbidden Techniques can be achieved through talent and hard work, but the Five Distinguished Knife Techniques require extraordinary comprehension and years of hard training. When I first heard Master introduce the five knife techniques to me, I thought that they were too inconceivable, that it was impossible for such legendary skill to exist. But today I was proved wrong. I was viewing the sky from the bottom of the well1. The Brocade Character Void Lattice is here before my eyes. This is the fourth knife technique of the Five Distinguished Knives!” Her body trembled slightly as she looked at Nian Bing with an expression filled with worship. If she knew that Nian Bing could also use the first of the Five Distinguished Knives, Dance of the Gathering Rain Dragons, what would her thoughts be? Nian Bing did not have a complete grasp over the Dance of the Gathering Rain Dragons, but after all, that is the number one knife art in the entire realm of cooking!
Under the deft movements of Proud Sky, the dough in Nian Bing’s hand continued to shrink. In just ten breaths time, he had already finished his knife technique. Without pause, he continued on to pick up chopsticks and started to stir the water in the pot. At the same time, he wrapped his left hand in red light and placed it on the edge of the iron pot. The instant his hand touched the pot, he swapped out the chopsticks in his right hand with the pot lid, which was then placed on the pot. Ming Hui and Xue Jing clearly sensed that the entire pot was trembling violently. The pot had completely turned scarlet, and a scorching aura flooded the entire kitchen.
After just three breaths time, Nian Bing’s left hand left the pot. He set the pot lid to the side, and, immediately, hot vapor rose into the air like a mushroom cloud. He grabbed a strainer with his left hand and used it t to fish out the character-shaped noodles from the pot, immediately soaking them in cold water. At the same time, his right hand flipped the noodles to make the water run easily in the bucket. His movements were like flowing water without any pauses. If this was not the first time Ming Hui had seen Nian Bing, she definitely would be suspicious of whether Nian Bing had been in her kitchen before. He seemed to be extremely familiar with where the tools were located and never made a mistake.
Nian Bing let go of the strainer in his left hand. Xue Jing and Ming Hui were surprised to discover that the water in the strainer was actually still. Nian Bing seemed to have finished his preparations. He turned to the two girls with a smile and said, “I used Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes to strengthen the toughness of the noodles to three times what it was originally. I then used high temperature to rapidly cook the dough. Right now, it’s being turned into an ice cube. I used the two extremes of ice and fire to break down the inner structure of the noodles. As such, the strong noodles created by Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes will not end up so tough that they can’t be bitten through. At the same time, this also brings out the fragrance of the noodles completely. The texture is extremely stiff, but you can bite through it. My goal is to completely release the original flavors of ingredients. Miss Ming Hui, I must ask you to lend me some of your beef broth.”
After saying this, he ladled out half a bowl of beef broth from the pot into a clean bowl. He added in a small amount of vinegar, a bit of sugar, as well as a bit of chilli oil. He mixed it evenly. Then he grabbed the strainer again, and using the fire element, he started to melt the ice inside the strainer. When the noodles showed through the ice, he put the partially melted ice cube into the bowl. The beef broth, that was at the room temperature, became colder due to the coldness from the ice. The character-shaped noodles appeared once the ice had completely melted. Nian Bing, started stirring and thoroughly mixed the soup and the noodles. Under the wave of his hand, a thin layer of ice appeared on the surface of the bowl. It look like the bowl was completely iced through.
“Okay, it’s done. If the two ladies would try my Fire and Ice-Treated Cold Noodles.” Nian Bing’s smile was full of confidence.
Ming Hui locked gazes with Xue Jing while somewhat in a stupor. They both grabbed a pair of chopsticks and lightly poked through the thin ice. Each of them placed a chunk of the noodles into their mouth.
Ming Hui lifted her head to Nian Bing, her eyes full of surprise. “Ice cold noodles really suit the fragrance of cold noodles. Plus you added the three flavors of sour, sweet, and spicy, as well as the umami of the beef broth. This is truly delicious. No doubt you are the Magic Chef of Ice and Fire. I am pale in comparison to you.”
Nian Bing said modestly, “Miss Ming Hui shouldn’t speak so excessively. I borrowed your well-kneaded dough and your exquisitely prepared beef broth to produce such noodles. In terms of wheat foods, I’m certainly far below Miss. I was only able to employ some cheap tricks.”
A light sparkled in Ming Hui’s eyes. “Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes and Brocade Character Void Lattice were cheap tricks?”
“You two can go ahead and talk; I’ll just eat.” Xue Jing did not care about techniques, or other culinary arts. She only knew that noodles in the bowl perfectly matched her taste. Although she had already eaten her fill with beef noodle consomme soup, she could not help but be enchanted by this delicacy.
Nian Bing smiled and said, “There are no limits to cooking. There are still many things we need to learn, no?”
Ming Hui took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes! There are no limits to cooking. It seems that I shouldn’t sit around and watch the sky; there are many things that I need to learn. Elder Brother Nian Bing, thank you for your pointers.”
Nian Bing replied sincerely, “Miss Ming Hui, there is no need for you to be polite. I have also learned many things from you.”
When they had left Superb Wheat Foods, Ming Hui had already reached an agreement with Xue Jing. Xue Jing would write her a letter of recommendation, so that not long after, Ming Hui would travel to Ice and Snow City to practice at the Pure Wind House.
“Jing Jing, did you find a place to stay?” asked Nian Bing as they walked along the main thoroughfare.
Xue Jing purposely held onto Nian Bing’s arm. She shook her head, replying, “I still haven’t. When I just got to Ice Orchid City, I wanted to walk around since there were less people because it was evening. Tomorrow morning, I was going to leave the city and continue onto the Profound Orchid Empire Capital to find you. I knew that you did not have a horse, so I also did not ride a horse. Walking is really very tiring. How will you make it up to me?” Right now, she was in a very excited mood. Not only had she found Nian Bing, but she had also helped the Pure Wind House secure a pastry chef with great ability. This time, even after she returned to the Pure Wind House, her father wouldn’t blame her too much.
Nian Bing somewhat unnaturally tried free himself, but Xue Jing was determined to hug his arm. As a mage, he could not compete with Xue Jing in strength. Helpless, he could only let her do what she wants. The delicate fragrance of a virgin was emitted from Xue Jing’s body, making Nian Bing’s heart surge forward. Her delicate and supple body plastered to his arm especially made his heart throb. He was also a virgin; in front a beautiful woman, a virgin would always be easily enticed, even if he had a very determined will. In terms of figure, perhaps out of all the girls he knew, only Feng Nu could compare to her.
“Make it up to you? Didn’t I just get you food to eat? Isn’t that considered making it up to you!?” Nian Bing did not dare look at Xue Jing and quickened his pace.
Xue Jing said with a smile, “Of course that wasn’t. You want to get rid of me after one meal. Do you take me for a beggar?”
Nian Bing forced a smile. “Then what do you want from me?”
Xue Jing said, “First, you have to take responsibility for all travel expenses; don’t try to fight this. Next, when there isn’t a restaurant at hand, you have to personally make food for me to eat. I will not eat rations. If I have to eat rations on this trip then I’ll be very depressed.”
Nian Bing’s face contorted in surprise. “No way, you are the Eldest Miss of the Pure Wind House, but you want to ruin me, a poor person. You are quite heartless!”
Xue Jing giggled and said, “I am a girl. Could it be that you want me to pay? I heard Ling’er say before that the magic scrolls you make are worth a large sum of money, so caring for me is no problem. I don’t care. Anyways, if you agree then you agree, and if you don’t agree, you also agree.”
“It seems that I must accept my poor fortune. I hope that there is an empty room at the Orchid Fragrance Inn.” Right now, he could only hope to reach the capital of Profound Orchid Empire soon. Then he could get rid of this wild girl. Aie, why would he, who didn’t want to have any relations with girls, have beauties appearing next to him one after the other? Master told me to find a woman I love and live together with her, but could you call this sort of male-female relationships love? Although Nian Bing was smart, in this area he was still a simple beginner. Having Xue Jing chase after made him faintly feel something, but he couldn’t quite label what it was.
“It’s too late for there to be any empty rooms. Who would rent a room to me!? Nian Bing, the room you’re staying in should be a standard two-person room. Anyway, there are two beds so you and me can stay together.” When she said this, Xue Jing couldn’t help but shyly lower her head.
Nian Bing jumped in fright. “What? No way, no way, you’re a girl. How could we stay in a room together?”
Xue Jing snorted and retorted, “I won’t blame you. You’ve already dawdled for a long time. Could it be that you want me to sleep outside in the streets? I, a girl, don’t care, so why would you? Could it be that you have some wayward intentions?”
Nian Bing’s eyes looked at Xue Jing with shock. “You, you really want to stay in a room with me? But that’s not good for your reputation! For your future husband, if he knew, perhaps…”
Xue Jing’s heart was filled with an indescribable twitchiness. “Where did you get all this rubbish talk from. Don’t tell me that it would destroy your reputation. Whether I marry or not is none of your business. At least for tonight, I want to have a place where I can sleep peacefully. Hmph.”
“Miss, you are truly certain?” Nian Bing probed.
Xue Jing snorted and replied, “Of course I am certain. Could it be that you are scared that I will rape you?” Saying this, even she couldn’t help but smile. Internally she cursed herself. Xue Jing, oh Xue Jing. What are you saying right now? How could you even say that sort of thing?
Nian Bing thought for a moment. Right now, he didn’t have a better solution to this problem. As Xue Jing said, his room had two beds. Although it was inappropriate for a man and a woman to share the same room, he just needed to be open minded, so there shouldn’t be any problems. Thinking this, he could only nod his head.
Xue Jing let go of Nian Bing’s arm and asked, “When were you going to leave Ice Orchid City?”
Nian Bing thought for a moment, then replied, “Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Today I heard that there is a famous dish in Ice Orchid City called Deng Yan Pastry. I heard that it’s quite strange. Before, Master told me that I must go and try it. Also, the magic scrolls I sold were used to buy blank scrolls. I need at least a day to make them into protective magic scrolls.”
“Okay! I’m in no rush.” Of course Xue Jing wasn’t in a hurry. She looked forward to travelling slowly with Nian BIng. This way, she could have more time with him.
When the two people returned to the Orchid Fragrance Inn, it was already late. After the night watch had seen Nian Bing take out his room key, he let the two of them pass through the entrance. However, the night watch didn’t leave, blocking Nian BIng from bring Xue Jing upstairs.
“Sorry, Sir. We are an honorable inn. We do not permit guests at the inn from engaging in particular activities.” The night watch said rudely.
Nian Bing went blank and asked, “What do you mean?”
The night watch looked at Nian Bing, then looked at the red-clothed Xue Jing. Bluntly, he said, “You should understand what I mean. It seems that one of the two of you are not our guest.”
Nian Bing’s mind was quick and he immediately got what the night watch was saying. He couldn’t help but feel mirth bubble up inside. “This is my friend. She came to Ice Orchid City light and currently the time is too late for her to go rent a room, so I brought her only to trouble you for a tonight. Tomorrow she will go rent a room. If not, then you can give her my room right now.”
The night watch snorted and said, “No way. I do not have the authority to let people rent rooms. Only one of the two of can enter.” Inside he was thinking, This pretty boy actually used his looks to snag a beautiful woman. Hmph, I won’t let you get your way.
Xue Jing was not as bright as Nian Bing, but with the guard saying things this bluntly, how could she not understand. Immediately, her anger flared up. She said, “Nonsense, what sort of people do you take us for. Get out; if you don’t, then don’t blame me for my actions.” Having said this, her hands rested on her sword handle. Immediately, red qi wrapped around her delicate form.
Nian Bing was not mad, but instead was silently thankful for the guard who was blocking Xue Jing. He couldn’t outright reject her, but he felt that staying in a room with her was inappropriate. With the night watch’s obstruction, he could conveniently decline. He hurried to stop Xue Jing. “Jing Jing, don’t make trouble. Did you forget what you promised me earlier? What he said was right. This was to protect the safety of the guests. Here’s the key; you go up and sleep.”
- So there’s a story about this frog who lived at the bottom of the well and thought that a circular patch of blue was the whole world. But when he jumped out of the bottom of the well he realized that he was ignorant of the world. ↩