〘𝓡𝔂𝓪𝓷 𝓦𝓸𝓸𝓭𝓼/ 𝓚𝓸𝓫𝓪𝔂𝓪𝓼𝓱𝓲 𝓢𝓪𝓽𝓸𝓼𝓱𝓲 小林 慧〙
>>Come, let my spice mesmerize you.<<
>>NPCs, and whoever wants some spicy food realistically.<<
A subdued Ssssssszzzzzzzz can be heard from Ryan's cart. The fire is roaring, the smell be wafting near and wide. Ryan, ever immersed in his music and his cooking, is quite literally dancing behind the wok. His arms moved with precision and the contents of the wok were tossed around with vigor.
Ryan has retrieved some of the ground beef and pork combo from one of the iced coolers and began stir-frying it in the hot wok. Before the protein was added, Ryan heated up some of the chili oil and some neutral cooking oil in the wok at the same time. He wanted the protein to take on some of the chili flavor, sure, but he used the extra neutral oil to preserve the natural sweetness of the proteins themselves.
Next came the fermented beans. Namely the broad bean chili sauce from Sichuan and fermented black beans, The hot oil, both from what he had added and whatever has rendered out from the beef and pork, drew out the scent and taste from the chili bean paste and fermented beans.
The next things he added was the fried chili blend from before. He took care to not add any more chili oil into the wok as it did not need any at this point. The point of this step is to simply let the flavors of the fried chilis and the content of the wok get to know each other. (Thank you Andrew Rea)
Once the content comes back up to temperature, Ryan tossed in the aromatics. Namely, ginger, garlic, and a small amount of fresh Facing Heaven chilis, for the spice it offered in its fresh form. Mixing the contents together, Ryan took a small spoon and tasted it, to see what other seasoning it could use before Ryan start to put the finishing touches together.
The taste was on point. It was where he wanted it to be, knowing what else he is going to add to it. Sure, in its current state the sauce-like mixture is nearly inedible, but Ryan was going to transform it. First, Ryan added in some rice wine, for its distinctive flavor that is different than a sherry or regular cooking wine. Stirring vigorously to combine. Once that step is finished, Ryan stirred into a corn starch slurry that was made from a mild chicken stock instead of water. The aroma and taste of the chicken stock would be very very faint against all the strong flavors already present in the dish. Once the mixture heats up and comes to a boil, the full thickening powers of the corn starch came through. Taking the once thinning mixture to a perfect 'sauce consistency'. Giving the mixture another taste, Ryan decided to add in a little bit of honey. Not only to take some of the edge off of the spices present, but to add in another subtle dimension to the entire dish. Finally, as if to dot his 'I's and cross his 'T's, Ryan retrieve the chilled, diced tofu and gently added them into the wok. Then, as carefully as possible, to tossed the tofu and the sauce together to not only warm the tofu, but for it to take on the flavors present in the wok.
During this entire time, everything in the wok was taking on a secret flavor. One that can only be described as 'wok's breath' or 'wok-hei' A flavor that can only be achieved by stir-frying in a well-seasoned cast iron wok with high flames.
Gingerly, Ryan removed the content from the wok and onto a pure white porcelain plate, making sure to clean off the edges. Then, finally, he tossed on some pre-sliced scallions to give the distinctively red dish a nice touch of green. "Please, take this to that judge. Oh, here. Don't forget these I suppose..." Ryan place a small bowl of white rice onto the tray as well. "Well, I guess these too..." Ryan moved over to the clay oven, lifting the top. The steam and smoke bellowed out from within. The smell was quite memorable. One can pick up the smell of toasted sesame, black pepper, pork and freshly baked bread.
Of course, these are buns he made and set to bake before he started working on the tofu dish. The outer shell is baked to a toasty brown. Flaky to the point where the shell cracks when pressed. The filling inside is juicy, aromatic, and riddled with the flavors of black pepper, scallions, ginger and pork. The meat juices have been absorbed by the inner layers of the bun, resulting in a cracker-like shell but a slightly chewy interior.
Placing one bun on a small white porcelain plate, Ryan deemed the tray as satisfactory and sent the helper off.
Mapo Tofu and Taiwanese Black Pepper Buns are now ready.
(A little bit more on 'wok's breath', by the Michelin Guide)