Well, it’s been a while since we’ve had a recipe. I nearly forgot that feeling of being starving while translating at night. Thanks for the reminder, Toupai. Anyone notice that the interaction between Toupai and Sheng Sheng is subtly changing?
Chapter 9 – Sauteed Black Pepper “Little” Ribs (4)
She was feeling like she had been tossed into the clouds and was unable to climb out.
DaRen’s name was Moqingcheng?
Mo Qingcheng [莫倾城]? So…. not an unassuming name? Gu Sheng opened up her WeChat, searched for this ID, and successfully added it. And then… the other end was very quiet and did not send over any messages. For a moment, she even wondered whether she had added the wrong person. In the end, she very sincerely input a message: Qiang Qing Ci Dada, this is Sheng Sheng Man.
Conversing at such a close “distance” with Qiang Qing Ci was totally different from the atmosphere in YY.
This one-on-one conversation window, along with her bunny profile picture, was making her feel that things were just too close.
My gawd, my gawd. So close that she was feeling a little too nervous.
She held her phone, waiting, and then, when she saw the status change to “other party is inputting,” her eyes immediately widened. Soon, inside her WeChat app, Qiang Qing Ci had sent over a voice message.
DaRen … Can you not… take this one step at a time and start with just text?
She stared wordlessly for a while at that unlistened to voice message.
All of a sudden, she set down her mobile phone, slipped quietly to her door, and locked it. Through the door, she listened to the sounds in the living room. Dad and Mom were watching a Spring Festival program, and things were very lively at the moment. They would not be paying any attention to her for the next little while.
Confirming that there would be no immediate risk, she hopped back onto her bed.
She picked up her phone once again, switched the sound over to headset mode, and listened to the message he had sent.
That voice that had been in a countless number of period dramas and commercials was now answering her casually, “I knew it was you.”
So… should I be using text or voice messages?…
Since DaRen had used a voice message, it wouldn’t be very good if I continued to be all high and mighty and aloof and use serious, reserved text, right? …
Gu Sheng lightly cleared her throat and softly practiced a few sentences to make sure she was in relatively good form.
Then, she held down the “hold to talk” button.
And then…… she did not know what to say. Anxious, she accidentally released the button, and the message was sent off. T T
A blank message of white noise had been sent off.
Stupid WeChat! There was no way to cancel sent voice messages… aaah!
Qiang Qing Ci speedily sent back a reply: “What’s that?”
Gu Sheng was about to burst into tears, feeling that her image in Toupai’s eyes had definitely taken a hit. Painfully, she buried her face in her arm and silently scoffed at herself. “Gu Sheng, just go die … You can choose whatever method you want…” Do you think Toupai Daren has a lot of time on his hands? Everyday, he has tens of thousands of @, tens of thousands of comments that he doesn’t have time to read, you know? He may have ten inboxes that have exploded because they were so full, you know? …
After cursing herself as speedily as she possibly could, she hastily coughed a couple of times, and then this time, she very prudently thought about what she would say before pressing the “hold to talk” button. “Um … May I ask why Daren is contacting me?”
It seemed… a little too formal, didn’t it?
She fidgeted a little nervously.
“No real reason. I remember you owe me a song.” His voice was leisurely, and he seemed to be outdoors. The sound of road traffic could be heard in the background.
“Uh… DaRen, you… want to listen to one now?”
Gu Sheng almost felt tears springing up in her eyes. She glanced at the time on her mobile phone: 11:30 p.m. already.
“Now?” Qiang Qing Ci’s voice sounded a bit surprised and also contained a hint of a doting chuckle…
How did it turn into her volunteering herself up again? Gu Sheng continued feeling as if she was going to cry.
She was already reaching for her throat lozenges, having decided that no matter what, she would go all out and sing for Toupai.
Qiang Qing Ci suddenly sent over another voice message: “It’s too late now. Tomorrow.”
Such a considerate DaRen…
Gu Sheng exhaled lightly in relief. “Thank you, DaRen. I will definitely get ready to sing for you tomorrow. Mm-hmm.”
And so… they were done?
Gu Sheng looked at the chat history in WeChat, wondering how she could somehow save the messages, download them to her computer, and edit them so she could hoard them in her private collection. In the future, if there was anything on television with Toupai doing the dubbing, she could take these out and show them to Mom and Dad … Well, maybe she’d just forget about that idea. She would show them to… Ugh, she suspected no matter whom she showed them to, she’d still be chased down and killed…
Better just to keep them in her private collection…
While she was still planning out what she was going to do, another alert all of a sudden sounded from her phone. Qiang Qing Ci had sent over two messages back to back. The first one was 60 seconds long, the second one was 20 seconds.
Two minutes ago? Really just two minutes ago?
She checked the message-received time three times. There really was only two minutes ago…
Hurriedly, she stuffed the earbud back into her ear and laid down on her bed to listen to the first message.
Qiang Qing Ci’s voice was heard again. It sounded so nice… it made her want to cry. “I suddenly remembered, I haven’t given you any recipes in a long time now.
“Sauteed black pepper little ribs. Mm … Really quite tasty.
“The ‘little ribs’ in this case are beef short ribs. Debone the short ribs. Pour over them rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper sauce. Then, add cracked black pepper, chicken bouillon, and cornstarch. Mix it all well. Finally, you add water and use your hands to bring the ingredients together.
“Leave it for… about fifteen minutes or so before heating up oil in a pan and sautéing briefly over high heat, just until the meat changes color. Now, add green onion, winter bamboo shoots, and bell pepper slices. Sauté it all again until the meat is cooked through, and then it can be removed from the pan.”
In the background of his voice message, the sound of a taxicab’s radio could be heard.
However, Qiang Qing Ci’s voice was even more entrancing than the DJ’s on that midnight radio show. It was an unpretentious type of allure…
Gu Sheng did not know whether she was overcome by hunger or just mesmerized, for even her breathing had slowed.
It was as if she was afraid to disturb what he was saying, having completely forgotten that this was merely a voice recording.
The app automatically jumped to the next message.“Black pepper is something that is very flavorful when it’s put on the grill. It’s really quite nice. If you don’t want to make short ribs, you could also try beef sirloin. But… really, the meat of short ribs is the most suitable.
“Alright, it’s really late. Go get some rest.
Light and gentle, like a whispered good night next to her ear.
Gu Sheng was in somewhat of a daze as she listened. Although, early in his career, Qiang Qing Ci had recorded many clips for his fans, including all sorts of bedtime stories or morning wake-up alarms, none of them could compare to this live version in their ability to cause her heart to skip a beat.
That was what she had felt the very first time she heard his voice.
Absolutely no exaggeration.
She remembered, that first time, when she had been half-forced by someone to listen to his voice, after the first few words, she had clearly heard the sound of her own furious heartbeat. And then, she was completely converted into a voice lover, with no chance of turning back.
She hurriedly sent back one sentence: “Good night, DaRen.”
Gu Sheng re-listened to the messages several more times. All of a sudden, she felt like she needed to eat something… Opening her door, she shuffled across the room in front of her dad and mom, then shuffled back again, all the while thinking, compared to black pepper beef short ribs, the food in her home was pathetic … Pathetic … In the end, she grabbed a package of instant oatmeal to make with some hot milk.
Even while heating up the milk in the microwave, she was still holding onto her mobile phone.
She recalled the conversation not long ago. So remarkable.
She could not help opening up her Weibo. Very, very happily, she tweeted:
So happy! What should I do? Gosh, what should I do? ……
Very soon, the microwave stopped. Setting her mobile phone down off to the side, she started making her oatmeal. When it was thoroughly stirred, she picked up her phone again. Less than two minutes had elapsed… and there were… there were… more than 200 replies…
Since she had first registered her Weibo account, she had never had more than an average of ten replies to anything, you know? …
She clicked on the post, flipping through the pages to read through the comments.
She did not know any of these people who had replied.
The number of replies was still rapidly increasing. Besides expressing all forms of jealousy, envy, and rage that left her feeling baffled, the most common reply was, “…… I didn’t see anything.”
Gu Sheng was bewildered.
All she could do was continue to flip back and keep reading to see what had happened…
She reached the earliest few replies… and finally saw the origin of the story.
Qiang Qing Ci: *smile* It’s good that you’re happy.
Dou Dou Dou Bing: …… I didn’t see anything.
Jue Mei Sha Yi: …… I didn’t see anything.
Feng Ya Song: …… I didn’t see anything.
Fei Shao: …… Holy cr*p. I didn’t see anything.
Person A: …… I didn’t see anything.
Person B: I hate you Sheng Sheng Man! Biting my hankie furiously!
Person C: …… I … didn’t see anything.
莫倾城。Gu Sheng is speculating that this is Toupai’s name. 倾城 means “downfall of a city,” and in short, means beauty that causes the ruin of a city. These are the last two character in the nickname that Dou Dou Dou Bing gave him in the previous chapter and that I simplified as Unrivalled Allure. (Refer to footnote  in chapter 8.)