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879 The Secret Of The Spicy Boiled Fish

 Cao Zhishu was quite confident in the food he had cooked. But being confident and wanting to know others' comments were two different things. Therefore, he had been watching them since Little Zhao went up to serve up the Spicy Boiled Fish.

When he heard Little Zhao and Yuan Zhou's exchange of conventional greetings, he finally realized that these two people knew each other.

The conversation between Yuan Zhou and Little Zhao gradually came to an end in embarrassment. The embarrassment remained for quite a while before Little Zhao spoke to break the silence.

He said, "Spicy Boiled Fish is a very famous Sichuan cuisine. It's also the signature dish of our Shu Restaurant. The common Spicy Boiled Fish has only four tastes. Spicy, hot, tender, and smooth while ours has five tastes. Try and see if you can tell what it is."

In his heart, Little Zhao still didn't want to admit that Yuan Zhou was now on a level with his master, which could be judged from how he spoke with Yuan Zhou. There was no respect in his tone. It was simply an exchange between two peers.

The spicy and hot taste naturally referred to the flavorings of the Spicy Boiled Fish while the tender and smooth taste referred to the fish. The Spicy Boiled Fish wouldn't taste bad as long as it had these four tastes. Yuan Zhou had all dishes of Chengdu School of Sichuan Cuisine, known as Shanghebang Cuisines. And the Spicy Boiled Fish belonged to Xiahebang Cuisines, known as Chongqing School of Sichuan Cuisines.

Strictly speaking, the system had never rewarded Yuan Zhou with this dish. With Yuan Zhou's current craftsmanship, however, he could also cook it. Yuan Zhou didn't need to taste it to know the fifth taste of the Spicy Boiled Fish.

"The signature dish deserves to be tasted carefully," said Yuan Zhou politely.

Then, he took up the chopsticks and began to eat it. He had always been bearing in mind that he came here today for a friendly exchange rather than to fight with others.

The Spicy Boiled Fish in his sight was served in a yellow-brown dish in the shape of a fish basket. The bottom surface of the dish had a feeling of rattans and the edge of the dish was slightly narrower. There was a layer of translucent chili oil on the soup where the white and tender fish slices were rising and falling.

There were also some identical-sized chopped green onions floating on the surface. The three colors of red, white, and green blended together. Apart from the bright colors, there were blasts of spicy flavor rushing into his nose, which greatly whetted one's appetite.

"300g of fish slices," Yuan Zhou stirred up the dish gently with chopsticks and said straightforwardly.

"Indeed. According to my master, the heat distribution isn't easy to be uniform if the fish slices exceed 6 pieces." Little Zhao nodded and said at the side.

"Um." Without saying anything more, Yuan Zhou nodded his head and picked up a piece of fish and then started to eat.

As soon as the fish slice entered his mouth, a blast of heavy and overbearing spiciness rushed straight into his throat immediately. The spiciness strengthened the hotness of the fish slices, which made people want to open their mouth and breathe. Instead of doing that, however, Yuan Zhou began to chew.

He ate it one mouthful after another. The fish slice was covered with a layer of smooth texture that obviously tasted like the egg white. Nonetheless, Cao Zhishu was a very famous chef and hence managed to get rid of the offensive smell.

There was neither the fishy smell nor the offensive smell of eggs.

The tender fish meat came right after the smooth texture was bit open. The fish meat inside took on a shape of garlic cloves, but contained the fragrance of the fish meat. However, at that moment, another sharp taste directly numbed Yuan Zhou's tongue.

That was the numbing taste. This kind of numbness was actually from the green wild pepper rather than the red wild pepper. It was a numbing taste with a blast of delicate fragrance, straightforwardly occupying the summit of his sense of taste.

"Slurp Slurp." Yuan Zhou chewed it a little bit and directly gulped it down. At that moment, the spicy and hot taste receded and was gradually replaced with a blast of sweetness.

The sweetness was very miraculous. It straightforwardly comforted his mouth cavity that had suffered a violent storm and made him feel comfortable, just like a tender girl. Then, he began to look forward to the next mouthful of fish meat.

These tastes came up one after another just like the distinct stairs when one went upstairs.

"How do you feel? Can you distinguish what the fifth taste is, Yuan Zhou?" Little Zhao hesitated for a while and didn't call Yuan Zhou Head Chef. After all, he was reluctant to call him with that title.

The fifth taste was naturally the sweetness. The peppery taste of Sichuan Cuisine consisted of two types. They were the numbing and spicy taste from Xiaohebang which was close to Yancheng while spicy-hot taste came from Xiahebang where spiciness came first. The Spicy Boiled Fish was no exception. It was both spicy and numb. What was rare was that there was a little bit unnoticeable sweetness rather than spiciness when people recalled the taste.

"Very nice. The proportion of salt is perfect." Yuan Zhou set down the chopsticks and then commented.

The sweetness of the Spicy Boiled Fish, namely the fifth taste, was actually stirred up by the salt, so Yuan Zhou's comment was quite to the point. Due to his first impression of Yuan Zhou, however, Little Zhao didn't think about the details. He just laughed inwardly at Yuan Zhou being unable to tell the taste apart and even gave an irrelevant answer.

As a food runner, Little Zhao couldn't stay there for long. After they said a few more words in awkwardness, he left the room.

Actually, there was a word that Yuan Zhou didn't say. As a matter of fact, there was 6th taste for the Spicy Boiled Fish. But since he was here today for friendly exchange, he didn't prepare to find any faults.

After he went back to the kitchen, Little Zhao passed on Yuan Zhou's comments to Cao Zhishu without changing a word and then added, "What do you think, Master?"

Little Zhao had prepared to tell Cao Zhishu that Yuan Zhou couldn't tell the fifth taste at all, but he didn't even finish his words when interrupted by Cao Zhishu.

"Boss Yuan really has quite sensitive taste sense. He hit the nail on the head." Cao Zhishu sighed with emotion and said.

"Master?" Little Zhao revealed a puzzled look.

"You came here late, so it's normal that you don't know. The fifth taste relies on a perfect command of the salt dosage," Cao Zhishu was a little more patient with Little Zhao who had behaved quite satisfactorily and hence said carefully.

Seeing the look of puzzlement on Little Zhao's face, Cao Zhishu reminded, "If we put too much salt, how do we neutralize the saline taste?"

"Of course with sugar." Little Zhao answered without even thinking.

That's true. If too much salt was added, some sugar could lessen the saline taste. About that, Little Zhao was clear.

"The two flavorings of salt and sugar interact with each other and destroy each other, so we naturally won't put the sugar in the Spicy Boiled Fish directly. In the later stage of cooking, we can put an adequate amount of salt to stir up the sweetness," Cao Zhishu took off his own chef's hat and stroked his bald head while saying that.

"Does the sweetness you mentioned come from that pickled pepper?" Little Zhao was also a slightly gifted person, so he guessed boldly.

Even if hadn't started to study the signature dish of Shu Restaurant, the routine work in the kitchen also made him have some ideas. However, it was indeed a bold idea. In any case, no one could possibly relate the top-grade pod pepper to the sweetness.

"Yeah, that's it. You also did a good job." Cao Zhishu nodded his head smilingly and praised him.

"You teach well. I check off all these ingredients every day." Little Zhao said humbly first and then brought out his effort.

"Chefs cannot cook delicious dishes unless they are familiar with their own ingredients." Cao Zhishu nodded his head contentedly.

"Yes, master." Little Zhao lowered his head and listened to Cao Zhishu's instructions carefully.

Every day, a certain amount of pickled pepper had to be prepared in Shu Restaurant, but the pickled pepper over here was different from that from other places.

Apart from the top-grade pod pepper, they also added some cane sugar inside, the kind that hadn't been refined, when they pickled the pepper every day. The particular compounding ratio would bring about some sweetness to the pod pepper and the sweetness happened to soak into the fish meat.

Little Zhao had once added the unrefined cane sugar in person, too. As the amount was more than that of the refined cane sugar and the appearance was also different, Little Zhao could remember it very clearly. The signature dish of Shu Restaurant could only be cooked in their own way.

Cao Zhishu summarized, "Putting more salt wouldn't make the taste salty, but the fifth taste would be gone. If it were any less, the dish naturally wouldn't taste salty and nor could it stir up the sweetness, which will cause a strange taste of both sweetness and saltiness. A good command of salt dosage requires some skill. So Boss Yuan really hit the nail on the head."

Little Zhao nodded his head and indicated he understood that. The Spicy Boiled Fish of Shu Restaurant was indeed so complicated, but could Yuan Zhou really catch the main points so quickly?

"By the way, how did you get to know Head Chef Yuan?" Cao Zhishu asked lightly.

"We worked in a hotel before," Little Zhao lowered his head and paused for a while and then said.

"No wonder you had a solid foundation of culinary skills when you came to formally acknowledge me as your master. You must have learned a lot from Head Chef Yuan," said Cao Zhishu.