Xiao Ming, Qian Huang, and Li Shui ate the dishes while joking around. Qian Huang had turned the laptop around and was reading the viewers’ comments at the side, making sure to have Xiao Ming answer a few more questions. Soon enough, their bowls were picked clean and it was time to end the live stream.
“Alright, everyone, that’s it for today’s Bright Yellow Water. We hope you had fun even if I didn’t explain the process in detail this time and we didn’t cover any new dishes. We also hope that some of you will register for the ‘Golden Spoon’. Until then, we’ll see each other again in two days’ time for our live stream on cutting techniques. Goodbye!”
“Goodbye!” The other two joined him and waved at the camera before Li Shui hurried to turn it off.
The three men heaved a collective sigh of relief that everything had gone well. Qian Huang patted Xiao Ming’s shoulder and then got up, putting the dishes away, and cleaning up together with Li Shui. Xiao Ming finally had a chance to lean back and rest up even though the three of them still discussed how the day had gone and what else they had to prepare for the next live stream.
In another city, Si Jin started the program to download the video of the stream and then titled it with the date and time, filing it away with all the other videos of Xiao Ming’s streams. Then, he closed the laptop and got up, turning to go.
Before he reached the door, Si Yi had already opened it for him. The two of them left the room, making their way over to the training room on the ground level.
Entering the room, the other nineteen men were already waiting there, a big box in front of each of them that issued a slightly pungent smell and gave off a slight sense of coldness. Two tables had been set up at the front, both with a cutting board and an assortment of different knives on top, as well as a waste disposal that had been neatly placed below.
Si Jin walked over and stepped behind one of the tables, folding his hands behind his back and looking at the men waiting behind the boxes.
Si Yi waited next to his table and then called out. “Si Shi Wu, begin.”
The fifteenth man stepped forward and inclined his head toward Si Jin before taking his spot behind the other table. Without further ado, he started on the lesson. “To advance one level, one will need to practice for ten thousand hours. Since there are approximately forty-five hours left until the next live stream, this is impossible. Instead, I ask master to slice ten-thousand onions as a way to practice your cutting skills.”
Si Jin nodded, alright with this manner of practicing. One could not do the impossible but it was not impossible for him to learn cutting this vegetable in almost two days’ time. He was certain that especially with the added motivation of winning over Xiao Ming, he would not fail in this quest.
Su Shi Wu turned to the first man. “Si Er, the onions.” Meanwhile, he turned back to Si Jin. “With the little time left, we can’t waste any. You have approximately sixteen seconds to slice each onion. I’ll explain at the side.
“The first step will be to cut off the top, trim the root, and peel the outer layers. Master can already see an assortment of different knives suitable for this task. The most common ones that will be used for cutting are the chefs’ knife, utility knives, cleavers, and Santoku knives.”
Si Jin nodded. He had already grabbed the first onions from the box that Si Er had brought over and followed the steps that Si Shi Wu had listed. As soon as he finished with one box, one of the other men of his clan would step forward, handing a new one to him and taking the empty one back. There wasn’t a single moment that Si Jin’s hands stayed still while working on his grand task.
Si Shi Wu continued to explain in the meantime. “We do not know if you will be allowed to bring your own knives or what knives will be available at the competition if not. Thus, master will need to be able to use all of them equally well.”
He motioned at the first knife, starting to explain the differences. “With the Santoku knife, the blunt side of the blade will be at the same height as the handle. This particular Santoku knife sports nudges at the side of the blade to make sure that vegetables will not stick to it. This feature might not be present in others though. It can also be used to cut meat and fish.
“The same is true for the chefs’ knife. It can even be used to carve. This might come in handy for later exercises so master should remember this fact. For chefs’ knives, you have to differentiate between the western and the eastern knives.
“The Western knives will have a thicker blade that will be curved so that the knife can be used with a rocking motion. This type of knife will have to be sharpened frequently. On the other hand, the eastern chefs’ knife comes with a thinner blade that has a straight edge and is thus better for cleanly slicing. The same goes for the cleaver.
“Now, when you have finished preparing the onions, we should proceed with the actual process of cutting them. There are four ways of cutting onions: They can be made into rings, strips, dice, and slices. If they are diced, depending on the width of the dice, they will be called minced or chopped onions.
“We will give all these five different types a try. Thus, you will actually only be able to practice each of them two thousand times. That might not be much but considering that it is not a competition at the professional level, master should at least have chances to make it to the second round. After that, there will be some time for additional training so it should not be impossible to reach the finals.”
Si Jin nodded faintly and then focused on finishing to prepare the last box of onions to prepare them.
Meanwhile, Si Shi Wu took a smaller box of onions that Si Er handed to him. He prepared an onion and then held it up in the air while taking the Santoku knife. “First off, we are going to slice the onions. After preparing it like this, you will half the onion, and put both halves flat on the cutting board. The onion will stay in one piece, making it easier to handle. Now, you will cut the onion in the other direction like this.” He demonstrated while Si Jin glanced over, watching for a moment while he continued to prepare his own box of onions.
When Si Shi Wu had reached the last bit of the onion, he rotated it and continued to cut in that direction. “Now, this onion has been sliced.” He put down the onion, as well as the Santoku knife, and instead picked up the chefs’ knife. “Because of the differences in the knives, the cutting motions for this also have to differ. While with the Santoku knife or a cleaver, you will just make a chopping motion, you will have to use the chefs’ knife and other knives with a rounded blade in a wavy form.” He once again demonstrated the action on another onion, letting Si Jin have a look. Finally, he put that onion next to the other and put down the knife, turning back to Si Jin. “One thousand onions should be cut with the Santoku knife or cleaver and another one thousand with the chefs’ knife. After that, we will dice the onions.”
Si Jin nodded. Just then, he had finished preparing the last of the ten-thousand onions so he took the ones from the last box, grabbed the Santoku knife, and started to slice the onions just like Si Shi Wu had told him.
At first, his motions seemed a little stiff though.
Si Shi Wu watched and nodded before pointing out his mistakes. “The slices should be as even as possible. This will allow for all of them to cook in the same amount of time. Also, it will be more aesthetically pleasing.”
Si Jin nodded once again and made sure to pay more attention to it. Xiao Ming had said in his stream today that it was very important that the dish would look aesthetically pleasing. Thus, it was natural to pay more attention to this. He definitely couldn’t make such basic mistakes when merely preparing the ingredients. From the first moment of starting to cook a dish, he had to pay the utmost attention to detail to make sure that it would be up to Xiao Ming’s standards. Only this way would he be able to win the date with him.
Even with making sure that he was cutting the slices evenly, Si Jin became more proficient after doing it several hundred times. When he reached the one-thousandth onion, he already did not need the sixteen point two seconds that he had been allotted, making sure that he would be able to finish all ten-thousand onions before the live stream started.
He switched the Santoku knife out for the chefs’ knife and then started to cut the next one thousand. Imitating the wavy motions that Si Shi Wu had shown him wasn’t this easy at first, making him have to slow down again. After a few tries, he got the hang of it though, and managed to speed up again. Soon, this half was also almost finished.
Si Shi Wu picked up a knife and an onion again, starting to explain the next form. “Now, other than slices, the next easiest way to handle onions would be to cut them into rings. For this, you do not halve them from pole to pole but in an equatorial fashion.
“This will not only result in a different look but also change the taste. Because the cells of the onion will be ruptured when cut in this direction, so the taste will be more pungent. In the other direction, the taste will be a little sweeter.” He once again demonstrated what he meant with an onion, using both the Santoku knife and the chefs’ knife. This time, he also picked up the cleaver and the utility knife, giving Si Jin a demonstration with those as well. “This time, master should try and use the other types of knives as well. For each knife, five-hundred onions should be cut.”
Si Jin nodded, put the last sliced onion away, and then picked up the next ones, starting with the chefs’ knife that was already in his hand. Cutting the onions into rings seemed easier than slicing them. The only thing that needed to be made sure of was that he had a firm grip on it. While it was a little difficult at first, he had already handled two thousand onions by now so he knew what to expect and could adjust after just cutting two of them. From then on, things seemed to get easier and easier, making him handle him the onions in no time.
Soon, Si Jin had finished cutting the onion rings and started on cutting them into dices as Si Shi Wu had just demonstrated once again. Half-way through, he looked up, gazed at the boxes of cut onions that were standing not far from him, and then put down the utility knife, making it issue a click. He took out his phone, took a photo, and then opened Weibo, forwarding it to Xiao Ming’s Bright Yellow Water channel.
Nin Sha: [I’ve been learning to cut onions for your next live stream.]
He put down the phone next to him, picked up the knife again, and continued to cut the onions into dices.
Even though Si Jin had gotten faster, cutting five thousand onions still wasn’t a small thing to do. Handling each of them would cost some time which would soon add up. Thus, by now, it was already the next day.
Xiao Ming was currently sitting at home, waiting for the stew he had made for lunch to finish while looking at some recipes he would like to work on next. Li Shui was wandering through the kitchen like a hungry beast that had been caged, eying the pot with the stew while Qian Huang was sitting on the other side of the room, scrolling through Weibo and answering a few of the comments that had come in since the live stream. Whenever it was something that concerned cooking, he would ask for Xiao Ming to do it but when it was about some technical aspects of the show, he was able to handle it himself.
Qian Huang noticed that another comment had been made and clicked on it, his brows raising when he saw the photo that had been attached. He stared at it for a whole minute and then turned to Xiao Ming, looking at him pensively. “Xiao Ming, ah, take a look at Weibo.”
Xiao Ming looked up from the book in front of him, blinking his eyes in confusion but still took out his phone and opened Weibo. The first thing he saw was precisely that photo of Si Jin’s that was slowly gathering comments. “This is …?”
Qian Huang got up from the armchair and came over, leaning over the countertop with a grin. “It’s your certified number one fan trying to impress you again. Wanna guess how many onions he cut?”
Xiao Ming looked at the picture uneasily. However many those were … It was not a normal amount. How had he even done that? And … judging from what he had written, he had likely started after yesterday’s live stream? Had this guy been sleeping at all? He couldn’t help but feel distressed at that thought. He liked the post with the photo and then responded.
Bright Yellow Water: [That looks very impressive, Nin Sha. How many onions is that? — Xiao Ming]
Back in the house of the ninjas, Si Jin swapped the knife for his phone immediately, staring at Xiao Ming’s message and taking a screenshot. His fingers flew over the digital keyboard and the message was uploaded in barely a couple of seconds.
Nin Sha: [5324 onions so far, still 4676 to go.]
Xiao Ming really didn’t know what to say. He stared at the numbers and then up at the picture, feeling that maybe this really was true. In that case …
Bright Yellow Water: [How are your eyes holding up? That must’ve been really difficult. Also, don’t you think it is a little much? You probably haven’t slept all night. — Xiao Ming]
Once again, an onion and a knife were exchanged for a phone and this time, the corners of Si Jin’s mouth even lifted slightly. Xiao Ming was so adorable, worrying about his health. Although he was wondering why he would ask about his eyes. He reached up and touched his eyes but there was nothing there.
In fact, this was thanks to the good preparation his men had done. The knives were especially sharp, ensuring that less of the sulphuric acid would be released. Also, the boxes that Si Jin took the onions from had a cooling function which once again reduced the evaporating chemical.
Si Jin didn’t know so he was confused for a moment but then didn’t think about it any further. Anyway, it was more important that he currently had Xiao Ming’s attention.
Nin Sha: [Thank you very much for your concern. My eyes are well. I am also well. I think that it should not be a problem to cut the rest of the onions until your live stream tomorrow.]
Xiao Ming felt pained when he read that.
Bright Yellow Water: [Nin Sha, cutting more than five thousand onions is already more than enough. I’m sure that you are proficient in it by now. You should instead use the time to go and rest a bit. — Xiao Ming]
By now, other people had also noticed the exchange and were starting to weigh in.
Cat Dancing on a Wire: [Heavens! (๑ʘ∆ʘ๑) I suddenly understand why he’s being called Xiao Ming’s certified number one fan! So this is the kind of craziness you need to show to get that title? ⊙_ʘ I guess I’ll be alright with just being number two then.]
Little Butterfly: [Nin Sha going all out again … Somehow, it’s not even unexpected ¯\_(ツ)_/¯]
Food Enthusiast: [I can see he is really enthusiastic about this. So it wasn’t a lie when he said he would register for ‘Golden Spoon’ for Xiao Ming. I wonder what he’s going to do with ten thousand onions though (•᷉ुε ू•᷈,)]
A few rows of laughter were sent in response to that question.
Ferret Eating Cake: [If he didn’t cry while cutting them, he’ll finally cry when he finds out that he has to do something with them (≧艸≦*)]
Xiao Ming was also worried about that when he heard that question but he wasn’t really sure how to bring it up.
On the other hand, Si Jin completely ignored what the others were writing and just focused on Xiao Ming’s response.
Nin Sha: [Thank you for your concern. Then, I will speed up and rest earlier.]
The one who felt like crying was actually Xiao Ming. This wasn’t what he had meant at all! He really wanted to plead with him but then again, there was nothing he could tell Nin Sha. If he wanted to do this, then he wanted to do it. What could he as a stranger do to stop him?
Bright Yellow Water: [If you don’t feel well, at least take a break in-between. You can still continue later on. Also, what Food Enthusiast said isn’t wrong. Have you thought about what you’re going to do with the onions? — Xiao Ming]
Si Jin had no idea what the other person had written but the question that Xiao Ming asked naturally wasn’t ignored.
Nin Sha: [I will discard them. They are merely for practicing purposes.]
He couldn’t see anything wrong with that but Xiao Ming’s heart hurt when he thought of just how much food would be wasted.
Bright Yellow Water: [If you don’t need it, how about seeing if there is a homeless shelter or maybe an orphanage in your city? You can just donate the onions. It might not be a complete meal but at least it can add a bit of seasoning. I’m sure that they will be very grateful for it. — Xiao Ming]
Si Jin looked at the question, and then immediately agreed.
Nin Sha: [Yes.]
Then, he handed the phone to Si Yi to let him handle it and went back to cutting the onions.
Xiao Ming wasn’t quite sure what this answer meant but he also didn’t dare to ask any further. Anyway, he could only suggest it. Whether Nin Sha wanted to do it that way or not … There was no way for him to influence that.