By the time Si Jin woke up, the others had already compiled their grand masterplan. Si Yi was waiting in front of his door and handed him a copy as soon as he stepped outside. “We have compiled short-term, middle-term, and long-term goals to ensure that Bright Yellow Water will get the fame it deserves and not be taken advantage of by that cooking show and the media. Several materials have already been compiled, ready to be posted at your cue, Master.”
Si Jin nodded and then handed the copy back after reading through it. “Proceed.”
Si Yi nodded and then stepped away, informing the others of their Master’s decision. Meanwhile, Si Jin went back to the living room and sat down at the table, opening the laptop that was standing on the desk. He immediately navigated to Xiao Ming’s channel and then waited for the live stream to begin. Now, there was not much time left.
At that time, Xiao Ming was once again nervously standing behind the counter, trying to calm down while he double-checked that he had all the ingredients in front of him that he needed, and hadn’t forgotten about anything.
Qian Huang had already opened Weibo, as well as their channel, and gave him a sympathetic look. “Just be calm, you have done this a hundred times already. You can definitely do it.” Each time before the live stream, he had to say this very same thing.
It didn’t actually help but at the very least, he wouldn’t feel completely useless. While they all had their own tasks in the live stream and the work around it, he sometimes felt that they were leaving way too much to Xiao Ming. After all, they couldn’t help him cook, and also couldn’t help him with preparing the dishes. At most, they could go and get the ingredients but then again, Xiao Ming was particular about getting fresh ones so he normally preferred going himself and only taking one person along to help him carry them. Qian Huang really couldn’t help but feel apologetic toward him.
Xiao Ming still nodded at the encouraging words and finally, it was time for the next live stream.
Li Shui turned on the camera, Qian Huang started off the stream, and Xiao Ming gave a bright smile.
“Welcome to Bright Yellow Water. Today, we are going to make four different dishes that will allow me to show you a variety of cutting techniques and explain some of the key points. The dishes are yam with blueberry sauce, radish salad with sesame dressing, hot and sour soup, and — as a special dish — cucumber salad.
“We’ll start with the first one since the yam needs to steam for half an hour.” Saying so, Xiao Ming picked up the vegetable, showed it to the camera, and started to explain. “This dish is really simple to prepare and cutting the yam is a vital step in the process. Naturally, this is also what we will focus on in today’s live stream.”
He put the yam down on the cutting board and then lightly put his hand on the table, looking up again.
“You first have to peel the yam but after that, we are going to get right to the cutting techniques. If you want to give it a try but are a little slower with peeling, you can just peel half of it first and give the cutting a try.
“Anyway, we’ll have to cut the yam into cubes. This is to allow the yam to steam more quickly afterward. I’ve already mentioned that it will take half an hour for just the cubes to be steamed. If we left it in one piece, this would take even longer. Also, the inner part would hardly be steamed by the time the outer parts are already overdone. So cutting it is an important step.
“To do this, we will use a knife, for example, a chef’s knife or a cleaver. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend taking anything smaller because it will be more difficult to cut through a vegetable of this size without problems.” Saying that, Xiao Ming actually took the cleaver.
“Now, the first step to make dice is to cut the yam into planks.” He demonstrated and then put all of them flat down on the cutting board. “Now, you can cut each plank into sticks. Try to have them be roughly of the same size. Of course, with the outer parts, that won’t work as well but it should at least be roughly about the same size. That will make sure that the dices will be evenly steamed later.”
Once again, Xiao Ming demonstrated and then turned the sticks ninety degrees. “I probably don’t need to say that you can just turn them around now and then cut the sticks down into the dices. And with that, we are already done.”
Xiao Ming looked up at the camera and smiled. “Now, I am going to put this in the steamer.” He did so and then turned back to the counter. “In the half an hour that the yam needs to steam, we will prepare the blueberry sauce, as well as the other three dishes. In this case, I will do the other dishes first since they are the ones where we will need to use our cutting techniques again and they will need some more time anyway. First off, there’s the radish salad with the sesame dressing.
“For this dish, we will also start with the radish first. Now, the steps are really similar. We first have to peel the radish. Then, we’re going to make sticks out of them very much like we just did with the yam.”
While talking, Xiao Ming already started to do as he said. Since the cutting techniques were today’s special content, he reiterated the smaller steps again as well. “For that, first cut the vegetable into planks again, then place it on the cutting board with the flat side down and cut it into the sticks.
“Since we are making a salad, I would suggest making them a little smaller than we did before. Because of that, both the planks and the sticks would be cut a little thinner.” Soon enough, half the radish had been prepared and Xiao Ming put it to the side.
He looked back up at the camera without picking up anything else for now and continued on with his explanation.
“Now, we’ve already cut two of our vegetables into the right shape. With this, you now already know two of the three most common shapes that you will have to cut while cooking. Other than the dices and the sticks we just did, you will also cut some vegetables into a round form. For example, cucumbers or maybe an onion.
“Doing this will usually be done in a very similar fashion, no matter what it is that you actually cut. So if you are able to cut the radish and the yam like this, you will likely be able to do so with any other vegetable as well. The differences are more in how finely you cut them which will depend on the dish you are making or your own preference.”
Saying this, he picked the uncut half of the radish up. “Now, I’m going to demonstrate this as well. Please remember though that I said before that the pieces you cut should be about the same size. So this is really just for demonstration purposes.”
He winked at the camera and then motioned at the radish, slowly starting to cut while he explained further. “In cooking, we actually have names for the different sizes. For example, when you cut something into these sticks, then you could call that a batonnet cut if the stick is about five to maybe six centimeters long and point six centimeters on both of the other sides. On the other hand, shorter sticks that are only between three and five centimeters long and half as wide as well would be called julienned.
“When doing this at home, it’s likely not necessary to pay attention to this. If you want to take part in ‘Golden Spoon’ though, I would advise you to take this into consideration. The judges will definitely pay attention to whether your cuts are uniform and adhere to these standards. While there might be some leeway at the beginning of the show like in the casting, you would definitely get fewer points if you aren’t able to do this in the following rounds.”
Xiao Ming sped up after having said this part and then put the finer cut strips into the bowl with the others. “Now, to continue with this dish, we will put some salt onto the radish and have it sit for about a quarter of an hour.
“In the meantime, we are going to continue with the rest of the dish. Since there aren’t any other cutting techniques required for this, I’ll be speeding this up again. If you are curious about how exactly to do this dish and can’t follow along fast enough, Qian Huang will once again put the link for the video where we previously did this in the description.”
With that, Xiao Ming really sped up and, soon enough, everything was ready and he moved on to the next recipe.
“Now, it’s time for the hot and sour soup. This one has quite a few ingredients, some of which once again need to be cut into the right shape.” He picked up the chili and the tofu. “Now, first of all, we need to cut the chilies into rings. For this, pay attention to your hands and make especially sure that you don’t touch the inside. That way, you can make sure that your skin won’t sting. You should also brush the seeds off the cutting board when you’re done.” He cut the chilies just as he had said, and Li Shui zoomed in on them, giving the audience a better look.
Xiao Ming then took the two types of tofu and held them in the camera. “Now, we are going to cut the tofu. The white tofu should be diced, while the flavored bean curd should be cut into thin strips.
“For doing this, it is incredibly important that you have a sharp knife. If you have cut tofu before, it could have been that it easily crumbled. This is because your knife wasn’t sharp enough. The same can be said for other ingredients as well: The sharper the knife, the better you’ll be able to cut.”
Qian Huang who had been watching the comments piped up at that moment. “There’s a question from our viewer ‘Growing Mushrooms’. They are asking what to do if the knife isn’t sharp enough to do it.”
“Well, you can always sharpen your knife with a whetstone or knife sharpener. In some cases, even just honing the edge with a honing steel might help. Unfortunately, I can’t demonstrate that in a short amount of time.” Xiao Ming looked at the knife in his hand and wondered if he should say more to it. Unfortunately, if he did explain how to do it himself, he wouldn’t be able to do the dishes in time. “For the time being, maybe there’s another knife you could switch to? Maybe we will have time to talk about this later on in more detail. Alternatively, you can always have your knife professionally sharpened if you don’t want to or can’t do it yourself.”
Qian Huang nodded and gave him a thumbs up. “I hope that clears the question up.”
Back in the chat, Growing Mushrooms thanked them, saying that they would go and get another knife for today’s live stream and then try to have the other one sharpened the next morning.
After Qian Huang conveyed the words, Xiao Ming smiled and then got back to the recipe. “Now, we’ve already talked about cutting the vegetable. With the tofu, it’s very much the same. I guess by now at the very latest, you will have realized that no matter what you do, the basics will always stay the same.” He demonstrated how to cut the seasoned and the white tofu and then put down the knife. “Very well, we’ve finished with that as well. Now, I will once again speed up the process for the rest of this recipe. If you have questions at the side, leave a comment so Qian Huang can ask.” He lowered his head to continue when the first questions already came in.
“‘Too Many Dog Ears’ is asking about the basic shapes that you mentioned before. They want to know if there really are only the three.”
Xiao Ming lightly shook his head. “No, there are more cuts than that. Although the three are really the ones that are used most of the time. Other than these, there’s a diamond cut for example or the rough cut where you cut the item you’re handling in more or less random ways. There’s also the so-called chiffonade cut that is used for leafy vegetables. For this one, you will roll them up and then cut them which results in a different shape as well.”
Qian Huang nodded and then went on to the next comment. “This is a question from ‘Bronce Spoon’: They want to know how they should decide which cut to use.”
This time, Xiao Ming took a moment to consider, wanting to make sure that he didn’t forget anything important. “Well, the answer to this is that it will depend on different factors. For one, it is of course a question of aesthetics. For example, if you are making a delicious dish, you might want to decorate it so that it looks as appetizing as it will taste. For that, it could be that you want to cut fruit into small cubes maybe, or maybe even into varying sizes of cubes. That might make it look more interesting.
“On the other hand, there is, of course, the question of how it will affect the cooking process itself. I already mentioned at the beginning today that having evenly cut dices would ensure that the yam for the first dish is going to be evenly steamed. This is the same for other cuts as well of course. And different cuts will also be better used for different methods of cooking. For example, sticks are perfect for frying, very small dices are the best choice if you want to mix the diced vegetables into meatballs or pastry, and thin slices are perfect for grilling vegetables.”
He fell quiet for a moment while continuing to cook the third dish. “I think that other than that, sometimes, it just comes down to preference. You know how among the three of us, we always say that Li Shui would eat anything. On the other hand, our Qian Huang is a bit of a picky eater. If you ask him, then he likes his vegetables to be more finely chopped. Don’t ask me why, I guess he might’ve been just as picky as a child and maybe his parents did it the same way to hide all the healthy ingredients from him. Now, it might just be a nostalgic touch for him.”
“Hey!” Qian Huang couldn’t help but be embarrassed, especially when he saw the rows of laughter in the chat, but at least he didn’t have to be in front of the camera so that nobody saw when his face actually got red.
Xiao Ming just chuckled. “What I want to say is: Very often, the recipes will actually tell you how you should cut your ingredients. In these cases, just follow that. But I think that it is alright to have some variation. If you like it a certain way better, just go with it. Cooking and eating should both be fun. So even if it’s maybe not the perfect way to cook something in theory, it might still be the best way to do it in reality because you like it best like this.”
Qian Huang calmed down when Xiao Ming pulled things around this way and looked back at the comments. “‘Cat Dancing on a Wire’ just mentioned that they’ve been trying to imitate what you are doing but the strips don’t look even at all. They want to know what they should do about it. Do you have any tips?”
Xiao Ming looked up from the soup and gave a smile. “Well, now, this is a bit difficult. There isn’t really a shortcut to this. When you just start out trying, this is actually a very usual result. They start to get more even the more you do it. So my only tip — if you want to call it that way — would be to just keep trying. Maybe today or tomorrow, it won’t look good yet, but I’m sure that a week from now, you can already see some progress.”
“Take some evidence!” Li Shui couldn’t help but pipe up behind the camera and then pointed at it, trying to give Xiao Ming a hint.
Xiao Ming looked at him in confusion for a moment, making some of the people in the channel squeal in delight. Finally, there was an obvious moment of a lightbulb going off above his head and his usual smile came back. “Ah, I think our dear Li Shui wants to say that you should take a photo or a small video of your progress each day. That way, when you look back, you will really see the difference.”
Hearing that, Qian Huang couldn’t help but pipe up as well. “If you do, you can also send us a photo. We always love to see if somebody gives the recipes that we’re doing here a try or practices something that Xiao Ming has talked about.”
Xiao Ming nodded as well. “Yes, I would love to see it! Also, if you show me something, then maybe I could give a few more tips specifically tailored to you. Of course, I can only talk about what I see and won’t be able to say anything about the taste or smell so you and your loved ones will have to be the judge of that.”