The Game of Life TGOL - C.82 - 81 Maple Ridge Pig’s Trotters

The Game of Life TGOL

C.82 - 81 Maple Ridge Pig’s Trotters
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Chapter 82: Chapter 81 Maple Ridge Pig’s Trotters

Translator: 549690339      °

On the first day the brothers met, Sir took Jiang Weiming to visit the pigsty, the vegetable garden, the neighboring village’s chicken farm, and the town’s vegetable market, showing him all the possible sources of ingredients.

Zet City is a small third-tier city, but it has its own advantages. With less pollution and especially in the countryside, green and non-polluting vegetables are everywhere. The chickens from the neighboring village’s farm are all free-range and semi-feral, and you can easily pick high-quality vegetables at the market that Jiang Jiankang wouldn’t be able to find in Alan City even if he ran himself ragged looking for them.

Although Jiang Weiming also lives in the countryside, it’s near the provincial capital of Shu, which is fundamentally different from the villages around Zet City.

In the evening, Jiang Weiming had also wanted to cook, but Sir wouldn’t allow it. He insisted on preparing a table full of his best dishes to let his third brother properly taste and see the culinary skills he had honed over the years traveling around.

There was a household in the village that had just slaughtered a pig two days prior. They raised good pigs, fat and strong. Sir bought a front trotter and a hind trotter. The front trotter was already in the stomachs of Jiang Jiankang and his wife the day it was bought. The remaining hind trotter was perfect for Sir to cook Fengjing pork knuckles tonight.

After arriving in Magic City back in the day, Sir initially worked as a kitchen hand in the back of a restaurant. The master chef of the restaurant, eager to nurture talent, taught him how to make Fengjing pork knuckles. However, the good times didn’t last; at that time the economy in Magic City was chaotic, various currencies were inflating severely, and the restaurant owner couldn’t afford the taxes. The restaurant closed down, and Sir lost his job, and wandered to other places.

Fengjing pork knuckles belong to the local dishes, which are known for their rich oil and red sauce, and for preserving the original taste of the ingredients. However, that was a long time ago. Now, the local dishes carry the flavors of the South, transitioning to a lighter, fresher style. Despite the use of sugar in cooking, they remain rich and savory.

In Jiang Feng’s memory, Sir didn’t seem to have ever cooked Fengjing pork knuckles before, or perhaps he had, but Jiang Feng didn’t remember. There are a variety of ways to cook pork trotters: Dongpo elbow, crystal sugar elbow, tiger skin elbow, crystal elbow blossom, Fengjing pork knuckle, steamed elbow, red-braised elbow, and many others. An ordinary pork trotter can be turned into something special by chefs from different regions.

For instance, the Dongpo elbow that Jiang Jiankang cooks barely has any real association with the great name of Su Dongpo, except borrowing it; shamelessly, calling it Jiankang elbow would also be acceptable.

After cleaning the pork trotter and removing the fuzz, Sir effortlessly removed the thick bone and carefully excised the thicker blood vessels due to his strength and sharp eyesight. Any remaining blood stains could be almost entirely removed by quickly blanching the trotter in boiling water a few times, leaving no odd smell.

Having trimmed the white and clean pork trotter properly, he put it into the pot, poured in the leftover marinade from making braised meat, and added soy sauce, rock sugar, yellow wine, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger slices to remove the gaminess and season it. He brought it to a boil over high heat and then let it simmer on low heat. Slow simmering not only made the pork trotter tender and flavorful, with a crisp exterior and fully cooked interior but also allowed it to better absorb the marinade.

With a pork trotter nestled in the big iron pot, Sir could tell the perfect fire control just by the smell and let it stew slowly as he busied himself with other things.

When Jiang Weiguo was young, he had traversed almost the entire South, gaining many masters with a deep affection for a single dish. Ironically, of the eight major cuisines in China, except for Lu cuisine, all are from the South. When he was young, Jiang Weiguo wanted to follow in Jiang Chengde’s footsteps, bringing together the essence of all the cuisine styles and furthering the glory of Jiang Family Dishes.

But he didn’t have his father’s talent or luck. Jiang Chengde had interacted with and learned from the great masters of various cuisines. In contrast, Jiang Weiguo met mostly old chefs with plenty of experience but who fell short of being considered masters. This led to him learning a lot and seeing much, but without mastering anything—a situation even less favorable than Jiang Weiming, who focused on Sichuan cuisine in the ensuing decades.

The second dish Jiang Weiming was preparing was clear soup fish balls, Hangzhou cuisine, which was considered a part of Zhejiang cuisine when he learned to make it. It was simpler than Fengjing pork knuckles. The key was to continuously and rapidly slap the fish meat to develop its stickiness so that the resulting fish balls would have a springy, refreshing texture.

Jiang Feng was deboning the silver carp, and after Sir seasoned the fish meat, he handed the task of making fish balls to Jiang Jiankang. Jiang Jiankang, weighing over two hundred pounds, had a lot of strength and seemed to be showing off in front of his newly acknowledged Granduncle Weiming. He put his full force into every beat, striking the fish meat hard enough that even Jiang Feng felt sorry for the deceased silver carp.

“Why are you exerting so much force? Do you have a grudge against the fish? You’ve smashed the meat to pieces. Haven’t I taught you how much strength to use before?” Sir scolded.

Only then did Jiang Jiankang earnestly begin to pat the fish meat with a moderate force.

Seeing that Jiang Jiankang was no longer going overboard, Jiang Weiguo could finally focus on boiling the bamboo shoots.

The shoots were fresh winter bamboo shoots dug up that morning; just boil them in clean water with a little salt until seventy percent done. They were meant to be served with slices of ham. Once the fish balls were ready, they would all be drizzled with a spoonful of broth, guaranteed to be delicious.

The third dish was Eight-Treasure Tofu, also a Hangzhou cuisine dish, which over the years had gradually evolved into a medicinal meal. Ever since Jiang Feng’s aunt had become fond of health preservation, she would request Eight-Treasure Tofu every few days. Jiang Feng had seen the special version made by Jiang Jianguo for his aunt in the WeChat group; true to its name, it was filled with eight treasures, with tofu being the only vegetarian ingredient. To those in the know, it was Eight-Treasure Tofu; to those unaware, it looked more like mixed tofu stewed with meat.

They didn’t have sea cucumber at home, but it was fine to substitute other ingredients.

Mushrooms, ham, and carrots were diced and arranged on a plate, while tofu was cut into pieces and set aside separately. The colorful arrangement was quite appealing to the eye. The chicken was freshly slaughtered, a more than seven-pound hen that Mrs. Jiang had raised for over a year. One leg had been deboned and minced, while the rest was seasoned and stewed for broth. Jiang Feng figured he wouldn’t get to drink the soup that night, but perhaps he could enjoy chicken broth noodles the next morning.

Now for the cooking: saute the chicken meat in a pot, then add the diced ingredients from the first plate. When about fifty percent done, add water and cover to simmer. After the water boils, add the tofu and season.

Once the dish is thickened with starch, it’s ready to serve.

Eight-Treasure Tofu was the first to be prepared, while the elbow pork and the fish balls were still cooking. The tofu, with its smooth, tender appearance and garnished with carrot dice and peas, aroused everyone’s appetite without even needing plating.

With only six people in total and the elbow pork being a major dish, Sir decided to make another soup and then conclude the cooking. Noticing Jiang Feng had nothing to do, he said, “Feng, cook a specialty dish for your Granduncle Weiming, let Granduncle Weiming taste your skills!”

Jiang Feng: ???

Specialty dish?

Jiang Feng fell silent.

What… what was his special dish?

Recently, he often made pickled vegetable dumplings? That was Li Sanya’s specialty, not his.

A budget version of clear soup with willow leaf-shaped swallow vegetables? That was Jiang Huiqin’s dish, not his.

Smashed cucumber? Now, that was indeed Jiang Feng’s forte, but he feared Sir would take his head as the cucumber to be smashed.

Jiang Feng knew how to make quite a few dishes, but suddenly being asked by Sir to prepare a special dish, he couldn’t think of one on the spot.

As Jiang Feng pondered on what could be his special dish, Mrs. Jiang was chatting with Jiang Weiming, Wang Xiulian was cleaning, and the entire family, except for Mr. Jiang Jiankang who was idle, was hungry from smelling the cooking in the kitchen but unable to eat.

At lunchtime, no sooner had he finished sharing the news of Jiang Weiming searching for his relatives with Wang Xiulian, he then posted it in the family WeChat group. With the spirit of ‘not being the only one shocked by the news, now that everyone has a new Granduncle,’ the whole Jiang Family was informed about Jiang Weiming right away.

Up until now, Jiang Feng’s uncles were still discussing this matter in the WeChat group an hour ago.

Mr. Jiang Jiankang opened his phone, clicked on the beauty camera, skillfully selected a filter suitable for the eight treasures tofu, snapped a photo, and uploaded it to the family WeChat group.

Cook: [Image]

Cook: There’s also pig feet and fish balls in the pot, Dad’s cooking tonight again! [Thumbs up][Thumbs up][Thumbs up]

Tailor:…

Cat-owner (Fourth Uncle):…

Dog-owner (Fifth Uncle):…

Pharmacist: Third younger brother, tell Dad to start dinner later. Your sister-in-law and I will drive over now, we’ll be there in an hour!

As Jiang Feng reminisced about the dishes he could make, his phone in his pocket began to vibrate nonstop. Upon checking, he saw Mr. Jiang Jiankang’s boasting.

The photo, the filter added—it was inhumane, clearly showing the malicious intent behind the bragging.

After some thought, Jiang Feng also said something.

Physics student: Granduncle Weiming said he’ll make us chopped pepper fish head tomorrow.

Tailor:…

Medical student:…

Designer:…

Cat-owner:…

Dog-owner:…

Pharmacist: Feng, could you please check if your second uncle’s old room is fit for guests? Second uncle and your aunt will be staying for a few more days.

*This chapter is a bonus because the last two felt a bit skimpy.

No more today _(;w’J z)_

*[I’m such an idiot, elbows are pork forelegs, Fengjing ding hooves are pork hindlegs, and I can’t tell any finer than that, parallel dishes, parallel dishes(‘°U)°’ )]

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