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882 The Sixth Flavor of The Spicy Boiled Fish

 For a moment, Little Zhao turned into the center of attention. Master Cheng was staring at him, Cao Zhishu was staring at him, and even Meng Meng was curiously looking at him. She was, after all, the witness of Master Cheng's numerous attempts to become Yuan Zhou's disciple yet still being refused.

If that chef with the surname Cao wasn't lying, then what made this young chef called Little Zhao worthy of catching Boss Yuan's attention?

Of course, everyone enjoyed being the center of attention, Little Zhao included. But this was definitely not the type of situation he should gain so much attention. Looking at Cao Zhishu's encouraging gaze, Little Zhao felt like killing himself.

In truth, Little Zhao no longer dared to speak the truth at this point. He could only brace himself and spoke, "That was when both I and Head Chef Yuan worked in a three-star hotel. I was the sous-chef, and I learned a lot there."

As an odd-job worker, Yuan Zhou was an extremely quick dishwasher. Therefore, Little Zhao convinced himself that he had learned how to wash dishes quickly from Yuan Zhou. That could be considered as having "learned a lot" as well.

Master Cheng snorted and muttered, "How lucky."

Since Cao Zhishu was trying to maintain his politeness, he tried his best to control his facial expression. But a trace of smugness had still crossed his face. After patting Little Zhao's shoulder, he started muttering. It looked like he was talking to himself, but he was, in fact, talking to Master Cheng.

He said, "Little Zhao's foundations in cooking are truly decent. After all, he is a person who had once learned from Head Chef Yuan when he was young."

As for Meng Meng, she had already came up with an entire story. Little Zhao had been learning from Boss Yuan. And after Boss Yuan left, he did not have anything else to learn. Thus, he left and ended up under the wing of his current master.

Little Zhao forced a smile onto his face. Inwardly, he was feeling bitter, but he did not voice that out.

Since Cao Zhishu gained an advantage out of his squabble with Master Cheng, he no longer bothered bickering with Master Cheng and focused on looking at Yuan Zhou as he cooked.

But Yuan Zhou's cooking speed was very fast. By the time he looked over, Yuan Zhou had already kept his pot away and was preparing the rice.

"Head Chef Yuan sure is fast. It has only been about five or six minutes," Cao Zhishu lamented after he checked the time.

"Of course," Master Cheng remarked proudly.

"Not like I'm praising you," Cao Zhishu replied.

"Since Boss Yuan needs to cook many dishes every single day, he has to cook quickly yet making sure each dish is delicious," Meng Meng muttered silently.

"Making Spicy Boiled Fish so quickly? Does he think he's cooking some vegetables?" Little Zhao berated inwardly.

Master Cheng remained silent and ignored Cao Zhishu. He continued looking at Yuan Zhou, preparing to help.

But Yuan Zhou did not seem to require any help this time. He personally carried the tray with the dishes over.

"Your Spicy Boiled Fish and plain white rice. Enjoy your meal," Yuan Zhou said.

"Thank you, Head Chef Yuan," Cao Zhishu said.

"You're welcome," Yuan Zhou said before he stood still, looking at Cao Zhishu waiting for him to eat.

That's right. Yuan Zhou would always observe someone in this manner. Since this was an exchange, he would seriously observe the reaction of the customer.

"This dish is good in both smell and looks," Cao Zhishu said.

That's right. Anything Yuan Zhou cooked would always look presentable.

For example, this Spicy Boiled Fish was placed on top a fish-shaped pot with a pointy bottom where the belly of the fish rested. Markings of aquatic plants could be seen on the bottom of the pot.

And on top of the pot, the opened back of the fish could be seen. The tender meat of the fish was exposed, every part of it was sparkling and translucent with a red gloss of the chili oil on it. Some green chopped onions and tiny slices of garlic were sprawled all over it as some sort of decoration. Naturally, some dried chilies had been added as well.

Even now, the gravy was still boiling. That was the result of the heated oil being poured on the fish. The heated oil created a dense smell that wafted through the air, causing everyone to start salivating.

"Head Chef Yuan is quite meticulous in terms of dish decoration," Cao Zhishu was a person with profound cooking skills. Even after smelling such an alluring aroma, he did not start eating. Rather, he leaned back before he gave a remark.

He was right. Yuan Zhou paid a lot of attention on his decorations. A round bowl was used for the rice, and the grains of rice within were sparkling and translucent. When one looked at them from afar, they looked like beads of pearls.

Little Zhao glanced over and was forced to acknowledge that these dishes did look good.

"I'll start eating," Cao Zhishu declared solemnly.

"Go ahead," Yuan Zhou gestured and did not say anything else.

Cao Zhishu picked up his chopsticks and reached for the tofu.

That's right. Unlike Cao Zhishu who used tender bean sprouts in his Spicy Boiled Fish, Yuan Zhou used tofu.

When tasting a Spicy Boiled Fish, one had to naturally start with the side ingredients.

Some of the pieces of tofu would be very tender after being stewed, but this would cause the tofu to be extremely hard to pick up with chopsticks. One's skills with chopsticks would be tested when facing such tofu.

Cao Zhishu carefully reached for the tofu with his chopsticks, but the moment the chopsticks landed on the tofu, he discovered that the surface of the tofu wasn't very tender. It gave off a springy feeling as it started bouncing after the chopsticks touched it.

"Slices?" Cao Zhishu was somewhat astonished, but he did not say much and proceeded to try it.

Normally, people would use a brick of tofu when cooking Spicy Boiled Fish. That way, the tofu would be smooth and tender. After all, tofu slices would easily tear apart while being cooked, and were rather hard to pick up using chopsticks as well.

"Hiss, it's hot." Even though Cao Zhishu had already waited a bit for it to cool down, it still felt scalding to his mouth.

After making that remark, he immediately shut his mouth and started savoring the taste.

When the tofu first entered his mouth, it was so hot he pulled his tongue back by reflex. But immediately after, a numbing aroma erupted like a tornado in his mouth before rushing towards his throat, stimulating him to start chewing on the tofu.

The tofu was crushed the moment his tooth landed on it. And at the same time the tofu was crushed, a delicious flavor of fish erupted instead.

"Um?" Cao Zhishu's eyes went wide when this flavor appeared. Astonishment covered his face as he quickly swallowed the tofu before picking up a piece of fish meat before stuffing it into his mouth.

It was very rare to see Cao Zhishu so impatient since he would usually pay great attention to etiquette. Let alone Little Zhao, even Master Cheng was looking at him with astonishment.

The moment the fish meat entered his mouth, the first sensation wasn't the powdery sensation of the gravy on the fish. Rather, an intense flavor of garlic rushed to his nose while a fragrant flavor of chili filled his mouth. Since the meat was still very hot, Cao Zhishu was forced to first kept the meat in his mouth without chewing. However, the tenderness of the meat gave off an illusion that the fish was alive and swimming, giving him an urge to start chewing.

Finally, he couldn't hold himself back anymore and started chewing. This followed by an explosion of the fish's natural flavor in his mouth. As for the meat itself, it was as if the meat could move. It slid down his throat and directly reached his stomach.

Cao Zhishu had a feeling that he wanted to chew more yet the fish had somehow been swallowed. Thus, he picked up another piece of meat and stuffed it into his mouth.

"It actually feels alive," said Cao Zhishu with a complicated emotion after he was once again forced to swallow the meat without any control over it. He rested his hands on the table and remain unmoving for a long time.

According to Yuan Zhou's own theory, the sixth flavor of the Spicy Boiled Fish should be "living fish". A good Spicy Boiled Fish would cause someone to never have enough of it, to forever wishing to eat one extra piece.

"So the Spicy Boiled Fish actually has a sixth flavor. There really is a sixth flavor," Cao Zhishu muttered to himself.

"Master," Little Zhao couldn't help himself but to call out. He had a bad premonition when he saw his master's reaction.

"Little Zhao, in terms of fish, it is our defeat," Cao Zhishu looked at Yuan Zhou with a complicated expression in his eyes. Generally speaking, a friendly match was held for both sides to gain an understanding of each other and there shouldn't be a winner or loser. But this Spicy Boiled Fish of Yuan Zhou had directly given him a sense of defeat.

"Master, what are you talking about? The Spicy Boiled Fish is the signature dish of our restaurant with a history surpassing 100 years. How can it be our defeat?" Little Zhao felt like he had heard wrongly and thus he remarked in dissatisfaction.

"Combining the five flavors of the Spicy Boiled Fish and giving rise to the sixth flavor, living fish. Forgetting everything else, even the entire concept of his Spicy Boiled Fish has already surpassed ours," Cao Zhishu sighed. He then continued, "People are always saying that Head Chef Yuan is a genius cook that will rarely appear even once in decades. Now that I have witnessed him myself, he is already a master."

When Little Zhao saw his master only looking at Yuan Zhou and did not spare him as much as a glance, numerous scenes from the past surfaced in his mind. In his agitation, he lost control and pointed at Yuan Zhou before saying, "Impossible! Absolutely impossible! How will our signature dish be defeated by an odd-job worker like him?"