Nine Green Divine Dragons
Suddenly, the green mist completely dispersed. A dazzling green light seemed to rise up from the one meter long tray, which proceeded to pierce everyone present’s eyes, turning the heavens and earth green. When it came in contact with the sunlight, it continued to refract and spread outwards. Everyone gripped their chopsticks in excitement when they saw this visual display and smelled the fresh scent. However, when they saw what was on the plate, none of them had the mental fortitude to destroy such a dish.
It was similar to the Nine green Dragons Hidden in Icy Mist, but there was a major difference between the present version and the one that had appeared at the Pure Wind House. At the center of the plate lay nine jade-colored dragon heads, each of which looked different. Perhaps it looked messy on first glance, but if one looked carefully, there was a distinct harmony between their placement and poses. In the middle of the nine dragon heads lay a twinkling lychee; it was like a gem that the dragons were protecting.
Behind each dragon head was its body. Indeed, they seemed like true bodies; each of the cucumbers had had scales finely carved into them. They all understood just what that blue light had done at this moment.
None of them could say that Nian Bing had simply made cucumbers; these were obviously nine greater dragons emerging from the clouds. Their appearances were vividly life-like, and even though none of them looked alike, you could tell that they were in harmony with one another. This flawless dish before them was an example of true art.
Salamandhys raised his head to look at Nian Bing, his eyes sparkling with a faint light. “Perhaps you were right. It’s not always enough for a dish to just be delicious. It’s also nice when it looks good. Nian Bing, I have learned this lesson.” He suddenly paused, then smiled embarrassedly. “However, when I look at it, it makes me think that I’m eating my own kind! You shouldn’t have done that.”
Nian Bing laughed when he heard this. “Didn’t you just say that no matter how they’re prepared, they’re still cucumbers? Since this is the case, what are you waiting for? Dig in! If you wait until the ice mist has disappeared, the taste will change. Auntie Yu, Lord Duke, please have some as well.”
Salamandhys finally made the first move, but still closed his eyes and imagined that they were just cucumbers. He picked up a small portion of one of the dragon’s bodies. Although the cucumbers were tightly connected, it was still easy to break their links. With just a light tug, a slice of cucumber broke off, which he immediately put in his mouth.
The first thing he felt was a cold sensation, followed by an incomparably refreshing scent. Because of the ice element and the powdered sugar that Nian Bing had added, the cucumbers’ natural sweetness had been stimulated. It had a very special taste that was akin to walking atop the clouds—it was wonderful.
Salamandhys had only eaten a small bite of cucumber, but he immediately felt a sensation that he’d never felt before: It was truly satisfying. He was full, but not in a physical sense. Rather, his sensory organs had been transported to another world by this sweet, refreshing taste. It was amazing, and brought a smile to Salamandhys’ lips.
Salamandhys’ chopsticks broke the atmosphere of reverence. Although they still felt that it was weird, the other four people present didn’t hesitate to reach out and take a bite, and all put a piece of cucumber in their month. It seemed that Lan Xun’s fortune with food was quite good, as he’d just returned when he saw the spectacular dish of cucumbers, and proceeded to immediately put one of the dragon heads into his mouth.
“Wow, it’s incredibly refreshing! This dragon head is truly delicious: It’s crisp and cool, like frost, but also smells delightfully fresh!” Lan Xun exclaimed after eating the dragon head.
He instantly heard a low rumble from his side, “What did you just say? It’s refreshing to eat a dragon’s head?”
Lan Xun turned around, only to see Salamandhys’ face right next to him, staring at him frostily. Only then did he remember that the one sitting next to him was a greater dragon. He said embarrassedly, “Sorry, it wasn’t intentional.”
Salamandhys sniffed contemptuously, then proceeded to lift up the tray and impatiently downed the other nine cucumbers one by one, leaving everyone else with just the single bite that they’d had. Not even the ends of the cucumbers remained when he was done. “Since you’re eating dragons, I’m the only one who can eat them. En, they really are refreshing. I really do feel very soother. However, Nian Bing! I’m a fire dragon, meaning I’m not all that interested in cold things. Don’t you have anything tastier you could make?”
Nian Bing smiled bitterly. “You say you’re not interested, yet you ate nearly the entire dish. If you are interested, does that mean that you’ll eat the plate too?”
Salamandhys turned red when he heard this. “Fine, go ahead and talk. However, I’ve discovered that I don’t always have to eat my fill to be satisfied. Truly delicious things can make you full in just one bite. I could feel the reverence in your dish—the reverence for me, the mighty Salamandhys.”
Nian Bing retorted ill-humoredly, “Revere your head. I made everything today for Auntie Yu. Who are you talking about.”
“What, you don’t think that I’m amazing? Why don’t you try fighting me?” Salamandhys countered.
“What fight you. I respect Auntie because she’s like my mom. Do you want to be my mom too?” Nian Bing frowned.
Salamandhys’ face instantly warped like he’d eaten fly shit when heard this. “Mom… Nian Bing, I’m gonna kill you. You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you?”
Nian Bing wasn’t scared of Salamandhys at all. He chuckled. “You’re gonna kill me? Go ahead. But let me remind you, even though I might not be stronger than you, there also might not be anyone on the continent better at cooking than me. And even if there is, they don’t have the ability to use magic like me, so they won’t be able to make as many variations as I can. Salamandhys, stop doing that with your face; I know that you can’t bear to kill me.”
Salamandhys stared blankly for moment, then his face immediately became as smooth as still water. He sat back down and murmured to himself, “A great man doesn’t care about a small-minded man’s transgressions. I didn’t hear anything.”
Nian Bing shook his head helplessly. This Salamandhys was becoming cuter and cuter by the day. He acted like a child whenever it had anything to do with food, thus could be manipulated quite easily.
He then turned to Yu Ru Yan and Duke Lan Yu. “Auntie, what did you think?”
Yu Ru Yan smiled at his question. When Nian Bing saw her warm smile, he instantly felt like he was looking at his own mother. “Nian Bing, I now believe that you truly are a chef, and a first-rate one who’s incorporated magic into his cooking at that. Auntie has eaten many delicious things in her life, but this was definitely the first time that I’ve tasted such a delicious cucumber.”
Duke Lan Yu nodded in agreement. “Indeed. I’ve also eaten many delicacies throughout my life, but this was the first time I’ve had had a dish like this. For magic to perfectly complement cooking like this… it’s truly remarkable.”
Ru Yi and Ru Meng’s eyes were sparkling with surprise as well. Even though they’d only eaten a single bite, Nian Bing’s culinary skills had left an indelible impression on them. They hadn’t believed the fact that Nian Bing was a chef previously, but there was no way they could deny it now. His fantastic knife skills and ethereal dish had definitely confirmed his claim.
Nian Bing smiled placidly. “I’ve always been a chef. My magic is but an aide to my cooking. Auntie, Lord Duke, please continue eating. Today, I will prepare several dishes for you. The next dish is the exact opposite of ice—fire.” He walked behind the stovetop as he spoke. This time, he took out the Flame God’s Roar—True Sun.
As an ex-full-fledged member of the Phoenix Clan, the fire-attributed Yu Ru Yan was particularly sensitive to the fire element. When the True Sun knife appeared, she immediately stood up.
“That, that’s the Flame God’s Stone! Nian, how come you have this knife? From what I know, only one Flame God Stone has appeared on the continent. Our Phoenix Clan wanted to snatch it away, but we lost—”
She saw a strange light flash through Nian Bing’s eyes as she was speaking, and a massive spiritual power seemed to resonate within her consciousness, causing her voice to halt. She couldn’t speak any more.
Nian Bing smiled thinly. “Auntie, I know what you’re saying, but now it’s mine. This knife is called True Sun, and is just my kitchen knife.” He forced the sadness out of his voice, then stabbed True Sun into the table. It glowed weakly beneath Nian Bing’s spiritual power.
A giant pot then appeared out of thin air. He grabbed the rim of the put with his left hand, then took out three large green onions from his space ring and set them on the table. True Sun simply flashed with a red light, and the clean green onions were completely chopped up. He then scooped up the chopped onions with True Sun and tossed them into the pot. Afterwards, he took out a steel wire net to cover the pot with.
Nian Bing smiled as he looked at his audience. “The simplest method of cooking with fire is grilling. This dish was passed down to me by my master, and then augmented with fire magic.”
As he spoke, a tender and fatty lamb leg appeared in his right hand. He place the pot on the stove top, then murmured a chant until a scorching hot flame appeared in his palm. He pressed it into the pot, which immediately began to turn red from the hot. The green onions inside of it were immediately scorched, and dense smoke began to float out of the pot.
Then, the True Sun knife moved. The fresh, tender lamb leg was turned into two-finger wide slices, which were then balanced atop the metal net stretched across the top of the pot. By the time the net was full, the only thing left in Nian Bing’s hand was the lamb bone. He placed True Sun to the side, and his right hand began to perform some strange movements.
Every time he flipped his wrist, a different porcelain bowl appeared, and powder seemed to continuously be spread over the lamb meat. Nian Bing also pressed another flame into the pot without letting it cool, then picked up True Sun again. He then flipped the lamb meat over and applied the several spices he’d applied the first time again. Once he was done, the light disappeared, and a large tray appeared. He spread the slices evenly over the tray. The red meat had darkened, but its delicious fragrance couldn’t be covered. Nian Bing walked out from behind the stove and placed this tray on top of the larger tray from his previous dish.
He smiled and said, “Please try my Ice and Fire Nine Layered Heavens Extreme Fire Grilled Green Onion Lamb Leg.” This dish looked very simple. Compared to the cucumbers he’d previously prepared, Nian Bing had taken a third of the time to cook this dish.
Salamandhys wanted to steal the dish, but he immediately saw Nian Bing’s True Sun levelled in front of him. “Mighty Salamandhys, if you truly want to experience the quintessence of this dish, you can only have one slice. If you eat too much of it, you won’t be able to taste the inherent sensation. There are eighty-one flavors within a single slice. See how many of them you can taste.”
Salamandhys blinked at Nian Bing’s words, but retracted his hand. He picked up his chopsticks, then used them to pick up a slice and popped it into his mouth. Yu Ru Yan and the others also took a slice. Even though they hadn’t taken a bite yet, the smell was more than enough to stimulate their appetite. Nian Bing didn’t try to disguise the lamb scent, but had instead enhanced it.
Once the lamb entered their mouths, its pungent scent immediately filled their mind. Soon afterwards, the fragrance of the green onions exploded and blended with the mutton’s scent, then assaulted their organs with the richness of fire. The meat was about a third of an inch thick, with the outside being crispy and the inside tender. The seasoning had completely blended together with the mutton’s taste. Every bite tasted different; it was like eating a scorching flame. Even though the pungent scent was extremely stimulating, it was also able to satisfy their appetite.