“Gosh, how can we finish so much food?! I’ll call my parents to come over.” Staring at the two huge ingredients on the beach, ThornyRose’s sweat flowed continuously. The food here can feed at least a dozen families! She then texted Qin San, Mother Qin and Qin Zhong.

“Lil’Dino, ask your sister to come too.” Ye Cang was examining the knives but they were snatched away by Old Wang and Old Li, “Let us use it first. Return to you later.”

“......” Ye Cang was speechless. Hey, no matter what, I should be the first one to test them out, right?!

“Wow, this is so luxurious. Using Meteor Crystal No.1 & 2 to forge a cooking knife… What a great idea, young man,” Old Wang gave Ye Cang a thumbs-up.

Lin Liang smiled, “If you two are interested, I can give you another set each as a gift for allowing me to witness the great cooking talents of yours. A hero with a great sword. You can provide me the characteristics and models of the knives that you’d like…”

“Really?!” Old Wang and Old Li were touched.

Lin Liang nodded, “Yeap, but you must make a dish for me on that day. Is that alright?”

“No problem,” Ye Cang nodded. “No worries, I’ll help you two out.”

“......” Everyone was speechless. They knew what to expect.

Old Li and Old Wang raised a brow at each other.

“Old Wang, do you still remember the dish that we came up with the last time?”

“Smiles from the Mountain and the Sea… I’ll be responsible for finding something from the mountains and you’ll go for the sea.”

“Smiles from the Mountain and the Sea?” Ye Cang, Lin Liang and the others were curious.

“Yeap. We were drinking and reading the Classics of Mountains and Seas that day. We talked about how the animals were similar to those in the book and we were somehow drifted off into the topic of cooking. From 72 types of land and sea animals to 36 types of flying creatures, we planned to be more selective with the parts of the animals to make the dish. Considering the taste after combining all of them, we decided to cook the organs and limbs of the 108 creatures in a pot without any seasoning. We hope that we can get a natural smile on the faces of our guests after eating such delicious food, purely because of the combination of the taste. So, we named it Smiles from the Mountain and the Sea.” Old Li recalled the night when they went to the market to shop for ingredients for barbecue, sashimi and the drinking session after the competition.

“But we left it aside because something happened and its preparation was really troublesome. We must precisely pick the portion we wanted. It’s just like selecting Chinese medicines. Any inaccurate portioning will greatly affect the medicine and taste. Besides, a lot of ingredients need to be prepared beforehand. Some need to be marinated, some need to be grilled a little and some need to be boiled in oil. Only then can we place those ingredients into the pot and according to sequence…” Old Wang looked back on the dish they came out with. It was the most insane dish ever.

Lin Liang was amazed and gave a fist-and-palm salute, “I’m...impressed...if you ever need help on the ingredients…’

“Nope, only the chef knows what should be chosen. Brother Liang, don’t underestimate us,” Old Wang smirked.

Lin Liang apologised and kept quiet. 

“Let’s prepare tonight’s food first. No rush for your dish,” Ye Cang said and they started preparing the ingredients. 

“Let’s split it into two. For the suckling pig, Royal Mountain Goat, and Mad Chicken, we can leave them for tonight. What’s giving us a headache now is the Nine-star Clam and the Black Tuna. We can only choose one at the moment. Both have to be as fresh as possible. If we have sufficient ice, we can keep either one for tonight. So that the diet tonight wouldn’t be unbalanced,” Old Wang stared at the materials for that night.

“That’s easy. Which one do you want to freeze?” Sun Quan smiled.

“The Black Tuna. Freezing the living creature until tonight for sashimi is the best. Spring water brings the best effect,” Old Li knew the request was a little over the limit.

Ye Cang then went to the mountain behind to collect spring water and Sun Quan covered the Black Tuna with ice. However, the ice was only a thin layer and the fish was still swimming in the water.

“Oh no, I think we need to keep the clam for tonight too. Just the Lobster King would be enough for lunch. Its size is too big,” Old Wang said and Old Li agreed after a moment of thoughts.

“Give me the meat from the third part, counting from the tail of the lobster,” Old Li walked towards the Père David's deer (the creature that resembled a deer, a cow, a horse and an alpaca all at once).

“Remember to keep the blood from the velvet antler. I need it for Blood Yellow Wine,” Old Wang reminded him.

“What about me?” Ye Cang was holding a small knife he got from the set of cooking utensils.

“Get the White Smooth Feathered Duck done. You can only get rid of its organs from a 2-centimeter cut from its ass. The most troublesome part is to clear its feathers. You can't boil it to get rid of the feathers. They must be plucked off after it dies and before getting in contact with water. A single hair, regardless of its length, will ruin the entire soup…” Right after Old Wang finished his sentence, Ye Cang was done plucking the feathers. They saw the three ducks walk a few steps before dropping dead.

“Put them in! Put them in!” Old Wang quickly placed the Lobster King and dumped the three ducks into the pot. After that, he took out a piece of ginger, “This is flame ginger or also known as anger ginger. It can only be found at the border between the volcano and the snowy mountains. Compared to normal ginger, its taste is relatively strong. However, combining with water will smoothen its taste. This is necessary when cooking the White Smooth Feathered Duck soup. You need it even for grilling the duck by brushing it on its skin. It can remove the fishy smell of the duck and turn it into an indescribable sweetness. Just like lamb and cumin.”

“Also, there’s one more item we cannot neglect. And that’s this knot from the grave welch onion,” Old Wang took it out from the packet of herbs he had. “This onion feeds on the rotten and prefers darkness. It can only be found in mass graves, the place that is home to large piles of dead animals. Its taste is spicy and so it is rarely used in culinary. This is considered as my secret recipe of adding the flame ginger and this together. The flame ginger is this onion’s nemesis. Putting it inside will keep the original taste of the duck and enhance its sweetness. The taste of the onion will be delicious. We can also add some salt from the heavenly heart flower but not too much since it’s only for seasoning purposes. Remember…”

Ye Cang observed how Old Wang prepared the lobster while taking in the techniques in  combining the seasonings from him. Old Wang was measuring the parts of the lobster. In the end, he kept the juice away, categorized the meat properly and then tossed the third last piece to Ye Cang. “Look at this piece of meat. Do you know why Old Li wanted me to separate it from the rest?”

Ye Cang squinted his eyes while Lin Liang smiled.

Old Wang rubbed the meat, patted it and pulled. It was instantly shaped to something like noodles. Ye Cang only then realized that he still lacked experience in preparing ingredients. Oh, the art of cooking is so refined. I must work harder to up my game.

Old Li then shouted at Ye Cang to ask him to grab the blood from the velvet antler and start to dismantle the deer. He separated the head and the bones of the limbs and added the tail to the stock. “Lil’White, remember this. The Père David's deer’s bones are different from normal bones. They need to be cooked for a very long time. Once it is dead, its bones will turn into powder after a certain period of time. So, you must kill it instantly and cook it. The maximum time limit is an hour. The closer we are to the time limit, the sweeter the stock. It has a lot of uses too. The stock can be included in a lot of dishes later. This thing is just the same as the shell of the Dragon She-crab. But you must remember that it can never mix with vinegar… You must never put vinegar into the stock!”