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961 A Craftsmans Heart Is Hidden In The Details

 The aroma the crowd outside the restaurant smelled originated from the completion of this first step by Yuan Zhou, the aroma of the pork mincemeat.

At the front door, if Wu Hai wasn't stopped by the people behind him, he would have already charged into the restaurant to devour the mincemeat.

The sleeping beast within Wu Hai had been awakened.

That's right. The door had already been opened by Yuan Zhou. After all, breakfast time was arriving. It was about time the door was opened.

As for the huge crowd gathering outside his restaurant, Yuan Zhou had long obtained an immunity towards this scene.

Yuan Zhou started kneading the dough to make the noodles and he was as skilled as ever. After all, he was also a master of cooked wheaten food now. It was natural for his dough kneading skill to be even better than the past.

Chinese cooking was extremely complicated, as even dough kneading alone had 17 different main techniques. Compared to the automatic kneading with the help of machines, it was much more complicated.

Even ignoring the techniques involved when making pastries, when one considered the saying of "Pastries are the shell, while cooked wheaten food is the essence", one could see the difference between the two.

Thud! Thud!

Sounds of the dough slamming onto the kneading board rang out. Yuan Zhou had reached the dough flinging stage.

In the historical records, there was a person known as Wheat Xu. When handling the dough, he only needed to knead it once, roll it once, and pull it once, three onces in total, and the dough would be ready to be steamed. If one ate while it was hot, it would be soft and chewy, and the bun would wrap around one's teeth while not sticking to it at the same time. And since the dough he used were made of oat flour, the bun would be sweet, and as one ate it bite by bite, it would be extremely delicious.

One could even dip the bun into some mutton gravy before putting it into one's mouth. The enjoyment one could derive from that was indescribable.

Back to the topic, the reason why Yuan Zhou knew that was because of the 23 kneading techniques he knew, one of them was the technique of Wheat Xu.

As an intermediate master of cooked wheaten food, he still had many things to do. Unfortunately, he was only steaming the leftover dough.

Yuan Zhou was very good with his hands, but most people had their attention on a new object in Yuan Zhou's kitchen. From outside the restaurant, that object looked like an exquisite bamboo basket.

It was hung on the ceiling with a hemp rope as thick as bottle's cap and was about 15 to 20 centimeters from the stove on the ground. It was quite big, and even from outside the restaurant, one could see that it was about the same size as a standing fan.

"What is that?"

"Boss Yuan has a new toy. Shameless Wu, you are the nearest. Get a good look. What exactly is that?"

"Although I don't know what's inside that bamboo basket, I can see that the new breakfast today is Dan Dan Noodles. What Boss Yuan made earlier is the mincemeat for the Dan Dan Noodles."

"That's obvious. Even I can see that."

Everyone was curious about the new toy hanging from the ceiling. More importantly, someone noticed that a suspended hook was used to hang the basket. That wasn't there previously. Moreover, there were customers swearing that the suspended hook wasn't there as of last night.

Therefore, one could conclude that this hook was something installed by Yuan Zhou after the pub was closed last night. When they kept thinking along the same line, the reason he was in a rush to put the hook on was because it was related to the new breakfast today.

Thus, everyone's curiosity was piqued as they finally pushed Wu Hai to go get a better look.

Wu Hai squinted his eyes and tried his best to study the basket before finally noticing something.

"There seems to be a pot in the basket?" Wu Hai was unsure. "I think so, there is steam billowing out of it. And the black bottom of a pot was exposed below the basket."

Hearing that, everyone double-checked and found that the hanging basket had indeed not covered the entirety of the pot. The bottom of the pot was exposed. Everyone had merely missed it earlier.

Hanging a pot with a basket?

"What's the pot for?" asked a customer.

"To make Dan Dan Noodles," answered a different customer instinctively.

"Of course it's for the Dan Dan Noodles. What I wanted to know is, why is he making Dan Dan Noodles this way? It's completely different than other noodles."

This question got all the customers confused. Nearly everyone there had eaten Dan Dan Noodles before, but this was their first time seeing a hanging pot.

It was during moments like this that the importance of fame and reputation were showcased. If this was someone else, the crowd would think that the chef was trying to show off for attention.

But when Yuan Zhou was the one doing that, no one thought the same. Instead, they wondered why was he doing that.

Among the crowd, only Zhou Shijie had a different expression. First, he was doubtful before he finally understood why Yuan Zhou did that.

"That brat is still as serious in his craft as ever. He would grab onto any minute detail that would help improve the taste of food," muttered Zhou Shijie.

"Father, have you figured out something?" Zhou Xi asked curiously.

"Yeah, Chairman Zhou, tell us. What's going on?"

Everyone stretched their ears out, preparing to listen to Zhou Shijie's explanation.

"Do you know the origin of Dan Dan Noodles?" Zhou Shijie asked.

Everyone shook their heads. For something like food, unless one had specifically researched about it, nobody cared much about its history. So long as it was tasty, everyone would be fine.

Zhou Shijie did not keep them in suspense as he explained, "Dan Dan Noodles was invented by a person called Chen Baobao. In his early years, he used to carry the noodles with a carrying pole before selling to the dock workers."

"At one end of the carrying pole would be the charcoal stove while on the other hand would be the utensils, condiments, and dough. With the carrying pole, he would walk around hawking his noodles by shouting Dan Dan Noodles, and from this, the noodles obtained its name."[1]

Zhou Shijie's explanation was detailed, yet the customers around him were confused. What did this have to do with Yuan Zhou's hanging pot?

"You guys are hopelessly stupid. As it was a different era back then, charcoal stoves were used. And since the temperature of the charcoal stove would usually be insufficient, one had to constantly fan the stove."

Naturally, only Lee Yanyi would speak in this manner. He had suddenly appeared here.

"Yuan Zhou doing this is obviously for the sake of separating the flame from the pot. Even so, the temperature would still be higher than charcoal stove, and although the flame would be unstable using this method, I believe Little Yuan has his ways of dealing with that," said Lee Yanyi.

The customers did not pay much attention to the part about the flame's stability. Rather, they focused on the first part of the sentence.

"So flame plays a role in the taste of the food?" asked a customer who obviously know little about cooking.

"Have you eaten chicken cooked with firewood? If the flame has no effect, why would one use firewood instead of gas?" Lee Yanyi said. "This Yuan Zhou has, for the sake of making good food, has done everything he can. Even the flame has been taken into consideration."

"Unfortunately, his effort is wasted on you guys who know nothing about food," said Lee Yanyi as he curled his lips.

That's right. He was berating everyone there.

There were ten cancers at Yuan Zhou's restaurant, and likewise, there were also ten miracles there. One of the miracles was the fact that Lee Yanyi and Wu Hai had not been beaten to death by someone thus far.

The customers were obviously used to Lee Yanyi's poisonous tongue. But Zhou Xi was not a regular customer. When he heard those words, he stepped forth bravely.

"You are wrong," Zhou Xi said. "Although I don't know who you are, or how much you know about cooking, you are not qualified to belittle all of us."

"As customers, although we don't know a lot of stuff about cooking, and we also don't know exactly why Boss Yuan did what he did. However, we can still feel the seriousness of Boss Yuan, and his pursuit with the heart of a craftsman." Zhou Xi's logic was straightforward, "More importantly, we are able to taste that the food here is delicious, hence why we are willing to queue."

Thus, the two started debating. Alas, Lee Yanyi had never once lost a debate...

[1] Carrying pole is Dan in Chinese, hence the name, Dan Dan Noodles.