Demon King’s Soy Sauce and Red Soul Vinegar
Nian Bing merely smiled amidst everyone’s surprised expressions. “This dish might look very simple, but it’s actually very difficult to make. Just like before, magic is the foundation for this dish. I added scallions to the pot, but not any oil. I used fire magic to rapidly heat up the pot so that they charred and released their fragrance.
“When I spread out the lamb meat, I added pepper, cumin, salt, and nine other spices in order to completely preserve the lamb’s flavor. After that, the fire element imbued in my knife was able to produce nine different variations; every inch of meat has a different amount of fire element in it, from shallow to deeply imbued. Smoking it over the scallion-enriched fire gave it afterwards further enriched its flavor.
“After all that, the lamb’s juices are now overflowing, meaning that the flavor is incredibly dense. It’d be most accurate to say that this scallion-smoked lamb leg has eighty-one different flavors throughout it. Lamb meat has a restorative effect on one’s qi, so it’s best suited for right now. There’s no need to be polite. Please, dig in.”
When he heard Nian Bing’s last two sentences, Salamandhys felt that he’d been fooled. However, when he went to snatch the food, he found that there was only a single piece left for him. However, he did have to admit that what Nian Bing had said earlier was very reasonable: Even it if was from the tiniest strip, he could taste the multitude of variances in the smoked lamb leg. The full-bodied flavor stopped him from getting angry. Instead, he was eagerly awaiting Nian Bing’s next dish.
Nian Bing took a step back and took a deep breath of satisfaction. Even when he was immersed in the cooking process, even though he hadn’t eaten himself, the sight of Yu Ru Yan and the other’s satisfied expressions filled him with the same satisfaction. After all, as a chef, the best success was when the dishes he’d made were acknowledged by others.
Proud Sky leapt back into his hand and Nian Bing said, “Today, I will prepare a total of nine dishes. The first four will each have a special characteristic. The first dish held the aura of ice, while the second contained the extremity of fire. After tasting that rich, hot and spicy dish, I believe your senses have been thoroughly stimulated. For the next dish, I’ll utilize the freedom of the wind for a baptism of fresh air.” Although Nian Bing had used Proud Sky and the Ghost Engraving Knife on the Nine Green Dragons Hidden in Icy Mist, he’d done so in order to bring out the ice attribute. This time, he would be using the Proud Sky Knife to showcase the true wind.
“Freezing ice, scorching fire, sharply contrasting, yet coming together as one. Free wind, please hear my call. Coalesce from the air and spread your aura of freedom.” Red and blue light appeared as he chanted, and then twisted together with a faint groaning sound. Suddenly, they formed a complex array, before shooting into Nian Bing’s body. The Free Wind began to hum in his hand, and then suddenly exploded exploded with green light. The stone at the end of knife lit up like a star, while all of the magic in the courtyard was replaced with the wind element. Threads of green light began to gather in Nian Bing’s direction, while the wind began to spin around him following his orchestration. This was the true wind’s aura.
Lan Yu and Yu Ru Yan didn’t really know what was going on, and exchanged glances. They were suspicious as to what kind of mage Nian Bing was. In the beginning, he’d used ice, then proceeded to use fire, and now was using wind. All of these things added to his mysterious image. In their hearts, the mage and chef ‘Nian Bing’ was full of secrets.
Nian Bing suddenly flicked Proud Sky upwards, causing the wind that was swirling around him in a mini-tornado to jump onto the countertop. As the green wind spun round and round, it caused Nian Bing’s golden hair to bellow into the air, which when contrasted with his silver robes, made him appear even more handsome.
Imitation. He was using imitation magic. However, his imitation was a far cry from Salamandhys’. Salamandhys had pointed out to him that in order to use other magic attributes, he first needed to understand the composition and properties of each attribute. Secondly, he needed to be able to manipulate the source of magic. As such, using other attributes was a very difficult thing to do.
Salamandhys could use his dragon body do achieve this, but Nian Bing needed to do two things in order to pull it off. First, he had to use his Ice and Fire Source, which had two conflicting energies, to manipulate the source of magic. After that, he needed to use his treasured knives to complete the mimicry. Even though it was quite difficult to use this magic and it consumed a lot of magical power, it had one advantage: It was only one rankl lower than his ice and fire magic.
The first time that he’d successfully used mimicry magic, Nian Bing had gone wild with joy. He’d spent every waking moment of the past few days polishing up on his magic, but not in regards to cooking, as imitation magic was actually extremely effective in combat. Today was the first time he’d used imitation magic in cooking. Right now, he was utilizing wind. Wind was free, thus he had to completely bring out the free-willed characteristic of magic in order to truly bring about the full effect of wind.
Nian Bing didn’t stop when he saw the rank 5 wind magic, Free Twister, in front of him. His magic power was being constantly depleted by using wind magic, thus he didn’t have any time to hesitate. First a cucumber appeared in his hand, then Proud Sky turned into a green orb of light that was one meter in diameter. He immediately threw the cucumber into the halo of light, which emerged as finely shredded cucumber slices. Without any particular care, the slices entered the whirlwind atop the kitchen counter. Next, he took out a carrot.
Just like before, the carrot was also turned into finely sliced strips. Afterwards, an onion, a green pepper, a radish, and six other vegetables were thrown into the high-speed mini-tornado. As the many vegetables were added in, the originally-green tornado gradually became multi-colored.
A multitude of small porcelain bottles appeared between Nian Bing’s fingers once he’d finished. These were the sauces that he’d mixed earlier. He first poured a bottle of red liquid into the mini-tornado. When he did, the smell was entirely masked by the tornado. He then poured a gold-colored liquid into the mini-tornado, then tossed in a pinch of salt and sugar. After this, he finally stopped.
The green light then subsided from Proud Sky, and the whirlwind gracefully leapt off the countertop. As it do so, a large platter appeared. Just as the wind stopped spinning, all of the vegetables slowly floated down like a colorful rain. The platter trembled slightly in Nian Bing’s hands, but not a single slice of vegetable was missed. Once all of the vegetables had settles, the platter was fully stacked. Nian Bing walked around the countertop and placed the platter on top of the plate that the grilled lamb had been on. He smiled and said, “Please try this. This is the Ice and Fire’s Nine Layered Heavenly Wild Wind’s Magical Dance.”
Salamandhys gazed at it suspiciously. “Nian Bing, this dish is a lot different than the last two. These are just raw vegetables; what’s so special about them?”
Nian Bing smiled. “This dish’s focus is to cleanse the pallet. If I had to pick something special about it, it would be the sauces that I infused it with. They’re a product of ten years of culinary development by my master. When he passed them down to me, he told me that they were true treasures. I used the whirlwind to perfectly blend the sauces and vegetables together, and added a bit of salt and sugar to even out the moisture in the seasonings. I also infused wind element into the vegetables in order to give them a special kick. It might look simple, but that’s just the surface. I didn’t prepare these sauces yesterday, but rather when I first left my master. It takes months to make those sauces.”
Salamandhys regarded him with surprise. “That sounds dangerous. What exactly did you put in those sauces.”
“I used vinegar saturated with cold vegetables and soy sauce.”
“What?” Salamandhys’ face showcased the fact that he felt like he was being teased. “Are you screwing with me, Nian Bing? I might not be human, but I know that vinegar and soy sauce are mankind’s most basic seasonings. You must’ve spoken of them so dramatically because you’re trying to fool me.”
Nian Bing arrogantly replied, “Why would I need to lie to you? You aren’t a human, thus you don’t understand the grand food culture of mankind. Lord Duke, you’re part of the Ao Lan Empire’s elite, so you might’ve heard of the Demon King’s Soy Sauce and Red Soul Vinegar.”
Lan Yu’s heart thudded in his chest, while his eyes widened in surprise. “Are you talking about that Soy Sauce and Red Soul Vinegar that’s more precious than gold?”
Nian Bing nodded. Lan Yu mulled over the question. “When I was young, I heard tales of two seasonings on this continent that are crafted through an extremely particular process. Even if it was an ordinary food, just randomly adding these two seasonings could turn it into a delicacy beneath the heavens. The Demon King’s Soy Sauce and Red Soul Vinegar are also called the Purple Gold Soy Sauce and Diamond Vinegar. A single bottle of either can go for over a hundred purple gold coins, or even be regarded as priceless. All of the nobles of the land want to obtain this delicious seasoning, while chefs wanted to cook with it Only one chef in the world can make these two seasonings, and that chef was once regarded as a god in regards to his culinary skills. His culinary skills were the absolute strongest—then and now.”
Nian Bing smiled sadly. “Even if his skills were the absolute strongest, he could still lose. He might have lost to carelessness, but it was still a loss. From that moment on, he left the culinary world to grow old in the mountains. Until the moment he died, he was still thinking about how to reach the peak of the culinary arts. Lord Duke, the person you speak of is my teacher. The one who was once called the head of the Five Chef Gods: the Demon Chef.”
Silence. Not even the birds could be heard as everyone stared at Nian Bing. Finally, Yu Ru Yan spoke, “The Demon Chef is the one I met last time?”
Nian Bing nodded, and then said to Salamandhys, “Now do you think that this vinegar and soy sauce are ordinary? They’re the fruits of Master’s many years of research—his most prized treasure. Now that he’s passed, the only one who knows how to make them is me. This dish might not be precious, but it truly is one of a kind.”
Salamandhys dumbly replied, “Since they’re still soy sauce and vinegar, what’s the difference between them and ordinary soy sauce and vinegar.”
Nian Bing calmly smiled and said, “Ordinary soy sauce and vinegar is fermented, while Master’s isn’t. However, the details are a secret; I can’t say them.”
Salamandhys grabbed his chopsticks and muttered, “Then I’ll try this different soy sauce and vinegar of yours, and see just how delicious they are.”
Once he made his move, everyone else moved to taste Nian Bing’s Wild Wind’s Magical Dance. All kinds of vegetables had been fused together in his dish. It tasted extremely fresh upon entering the mouth, each vegetable bringing about its own cleansing taste. It was just like the wind flowing through one’s mouth. A bit of saltiness, a bit of sourness, a bit of sweetness; none of the flavors were particularly thick, but they were perfectly blended. When the first mouthful reached their stomachs, the last thing they tasted was umami. Indeed, it was the umami flavor, as if they’d eaten a mouthful of high-grade seafood.
Salamandhys soon found that even the Snow Fish Soup couldn’t compare to this taste, but that it didn’t have the fishy taste of real seafood. This emotional sensation completely drove away the charred taste from the smoked sheep they’d just eaten, leaving behind only a wonderful flavor.
Were these still ordinary vegetables? No, they couldn’t be. What Nian Bing had said was true: The dish appeared to be simple, but it completely suppressed the two dishes from before. There was only one possible explanation: the Demon King’s Soy Sauce and Red Soul Vinegar.
Nian Bing smiled and asked, “How is it, Salamandhys?”
A faint flush appeared on the dragon’s face. “How…how come I’m able to taste umami from this? This soy sauce and vinegar is really great. Can you give me some?”
However, Nian Bing declined. “I can’t. Giving some to you would be tantamount to recklessly wasting resources. If you can’t use it properly, it’ll simply be wasted. The two sauces are most suited for two kinds of food: Cold tossed vegetables and seafood. This time, I merely dressed the food without cooking it. Don’t worry, you’ll have the opportunity to taste more of it later on.”
Duke Lan Yu smiled brightly. “I never thought that I’d have the chance to taste such famed seasonings. Nian Bing! I want you to continue, but I also want you to stop. If I keep on eating what you make, I might not think that anything tastes good afterwards, haha!”