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171 Definition of Delicacies

 Yuan Zhou responded to Wu Hai's question with an affirmed answer. The reason was very simple. He believed his craftsmanship could offset the defects of Boss Tong's white rice.

Wu Hai said directly, "Since your dishes are so delicious, how can she eat anything else?"

By his standards, he would rather eat the dishes without white rice than eating inferior rice along with the delicious dishes.

"Eat your food. People are waiting behind," Yuan Zhou signaled him to hurry up as many customers were still waiting in line.

Wu Hai turned the head and found the line was indeed getting longer. With his two small tufts of mustache turning up, he said proudly, "My home is near ."

As this guy always looked for trouble every day, Yuan Zhou just ignored him and went back to the kitchen to cook dishes.

The main ingredient of Steamed Tofu with Minced Pork was tofu, which was made by Yuan Zhou himself. Since it was used for steamed dishes, it was definitely tofu from the north school.

First of all, Yuan Zhou was quite satisfied with the raw ingredients. The soybeans provided by the system were all plump and uniform in the size, looking round and lovable. After being soaked in water and becoming bloated, they carried a faint aroma of bean flavor in the atmosphere, Each of them looked chubby.

For this time, Yuan Zhou used the stone mill to grind the soybeans manually. After grinding carefully thrice, he filtered the soybean milk to be used later. Then he added the brine water inside to solidify the soybean milk. During the process, the spring water taken from the mountain streams was used.

The scent was pure and sweet. Taken during the winter, the spring water carried a faint cool air. Yuan Zhou then poured the solidified soybean milk directly into the bamboo frame. The subtly-woven bamboo splits left clear and visible patterns on the tofu, as if they had been allocated beforehand.

With every piece being identical in the size, the finished tofu was white and tender. While it emitted a strong aroma of bean flavor into the atmosphere, it also carried the sweetness of the spring water.

"Hua Hua", Yuan Zhou waved the bamboo knife and cut one piece of the tofu off before holding it with the bamboo knife and placing it on a flat plate.

Every surface of the tofu was incomparably neat as if they had all been measured.

"Boss Yuan likes bamboo very much, but unfortunately he isn't like the bamboo," Wu Hai gave him another hit while smiling at the side.

Yuan Zhou took a glance at Wu Hai and then continued with his own work, not preparing to answer him.

However, he waved the bamboo knife faster this time. With only several cuts, he split the tofu into a few smaller blocks of the same size.

It was enjoyable to watch Yuan Zhou cook. Every time he prepared such ingredients that were soon to be eaten, he would usually keep them away from the direct touch of his hands, like the previous treatment of the Phoenix-Tail Prawns. This time, it was the tofu.

Although it was the firm tofu from the north school, it nevertheless appeared to be white and tender as well as tottering, like pieces of top-grade white jade.

Yuan Zhou heated the pot until it became hot. Then, he poured some oil into the pot until a sound of "Zi La" was heard in order to sauté the tofu.

This time he used the soybean oil. Provided it was not processed properly, the soybean oil would emit a faint beany flavor. Nonetheless, Yuan Zhou immediately put some pieces of red onions straight inside the pot. After the onions were stir-fried in the oil, the soybean oil, on the contrary, carried the delicate fragrance of the onion. Therefore, it couldn't be better to sauté the tofu with it.

When the tofu was sautéed until two sides turned golden, Yuan Zhou changed the oil again. Apart from the onions, he also added a spoonful of vegetables oil this time to increase the fragrance. After that, he put other flavorings into the pot and stir-fried them until the scent was emitted. During the process, the pot was ceaselessly making the melodious sound of "Zi La", as if the ingredients were melting together blissfully.

Then, he poured the sautéed tofu into the pot for braising, added other flavorings inside, and cooked it with slow fire in order to let the sauce penetrate the tofu, thus making the inside of the tofu taste the same as the sauce. When it came to the step of sauce reduction, Yuan Zhou added the green garlic sprouts into the pot to increase the aroma.

Finally, a plate of Steamed Tofu with Minced Pork was ready. Meanwhile, Boss Tong entered the restaurant with a bowl of steaming hot rice.

"Enjoy your meal, Boss Tong," Yuan Zhou served the tofu and said to her politely.

"Yuan Zhou, your swift actions resemble your father," looking at the steaming hot tofu served to her, Boss Tong said to Yuan Zhou.

"Thank you," Yuan Zhou answered with a nod.

It was strange that although the tofu was steaming hot, the aroma was surprisingly little. With slight curiosity, Boss Tong broke apart a piece of the tofu with the chopsticks, after which the aroma started to become stronger.

"It seems the aroma was all wrapped inside the tofu," Boss Tong could also be considered to be knowledgeable, hence brought out Yuan Zhou's technique of cooking in one go.

She picked up the broken tofu and stuffed into her mouth. She got burned immediately by the scalding inside of the tofu. Then, Boss Tong constantly inhaled the air with a sound of "Si Si" to cool her burnt tongue down. Even so, the tofu was soft, tender, salty and fresh, along with an extraordinarily wonderful taste. Being reluctant to spit it out, Boss Tong had to chew and swallow up the tofu while breathing incessantly.

"Little Yuan, your craftsmanship is really nice," after eating up the piece, Boss Tong heaved a sigh with emotion and then said.

Yet, these words weren't heard by Yuan Zhou, who was busying with other dishes.

After lamenting for a while, Boss Tong continued to eat her Steamed Tofu with Minced Pork slowly, but with slower and slower speed. While looking at somewhere far away, she acted as if she had recalled of something.

When Boss Tong was young, she was sent by her family to a tofu house to be an apprentice. Girls seldom did this kind of work, but her family was poor at that time. Moreover,she was the eldest daughter. Although the work in the tofu house was tiring, she could at least earn a little more.

For that alone, she had to go there.

Carrying water and soybean and helping to operate the hand mill, she did various kinds of heavy and hard works. Looking at the white and tender tofu taking shape, she felt proud and also felt like eating it. That was right. Boss Tong's simple wish in the past was just to eat the tofu freely. That was probably the most delicious dish for her.

Despite her work in the tofu house, the miller only gave the young Boss Tong 1 kg of the tofu during Chinese New Year as a festival gift.

In the past, even the boiled tofu added with some salt and cabbage leaves was considered to be fragrant and appetizing, not to mention the sautéed tofu.

All year long, Chinese New Year was the most expected period for her to get 1 kg of the tofu. This strong expectation along with the nice taste of the tofu itself became the most impressive memory in Boss Tong's mind when she was young.

As society progressed gradually , the manually-operated mill died out. After that, Boss Tong entered the business of producing and selling tofu for a period of time, but the business was really slow. Since she could no longer live on that business, she opened the current dry cleaning store.

Nevertheless,Boss Tong no longer liked to eat tofu and always felt that the tofu was not as tasty as before.

Right now while she was eating tofu, she seemed to find the delicious taste again.

Having finished the meal and returned to her home, Boss Tong went to buy vegetables to cook. No matter how delicious the dishes were, she couldn't afford to eat in Yuan Zhou's restaurant every day.

"Sister Tong, what would you like to eat today?" The butcher's greeting woke Boss Tong up.

"I'd like to buy some minced steak," Boss Tong recovered herself and said to the butcher while looking at him.

"How much do you want? Lean meat or fat meat?" The butcher lifted up the pork for her to choose.

"Please get me some streaky pork and mince them," Boss Tong said after taking a look at the streaky pork.

After she bought the pork and returned to her home, Boss Tong was a little speechless when she saw the prepared tofu pudding that she had added with the brine water.

"I'm really too old to know what I should do," Boss Tong revealed a helpless look on her skinny face.

Only after a little while, she began to get busy again in the kitchen.

While busying, she muttered to herself, "It seems I can only eat some fried tofu for dinner tonight."

That was right. The appetizing Steamed Tofu with Minced Pork cooked by Yuan Zhou reminded Boss Tong of the old days when she had learned to make tofu. Therefore, after coming back and closing the store, she made herself a pot of the tofu without realizing it.

Boss Tong was lamenting relentlessly that she was old and didn't even know what she had just done.

In the bottom of her heart, however, she was both expectant and hesitant, as she hadn't made tofu by herself for a long time.

After the tofu took shape, Boss Tong cooked a plate of home-style tofu as per her liking.

On a brown square table placed a plate of home-style tofu and a bowl of white rice, with a chair standing beside.

The blocks of tofu on the white plate had been mashed into small pieces due to too much strength used during the stir-frying. Only a few blocks of tofu were still intact. If the tofu was not intact, the taste would also disperse.

Nonetheless, Boss Tong picked up a piece of tofu and ate contentedly.

"The tofu seems to be as delicious as before."

A conspicuous smile showed up on Boss Tong's skinny face. Despite her face was full of wrinkles, her whole person appeared to be warm....