TOMORROW has arrived! AH AH AH AH!!!!…… OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!…… *squee* ……
Chapter 30 – Spicy Crispy Skin Fish (8)
She and Toupai had arranged to meet at five o’clock.
Using the address he had given her, she found her way to the place. Right as she was about to give Toupai a call like they had discussed, it just so happened that one of the residents of the building was opening the metal security door from the inside. Gu Sheng mulled things over very briefly, put away her phone, and before the door had closed all the way, slipped inside.
Really… it was not a big deal if she went up herself. She was already downstairs, and asking someone to come down to escort her seemed a little pretentious T.T.
The elevator stopped at the twenty-fourth floor and Gu Sheng stepped out. She discovered the layout here was very well designed with only two individual apartments on this floor. Glancing at the apartment numbers, she found the correct door. She inhaled and then exhaled lightly, trying not to be nervous.
All of a sudden, there rang out a burst of laughter comprised of several persons’ voices mixed together…
Nice! There really were a lot of people here today.
Immediately after she rang the doorbell, she heard someone call out, “Jue Mei, Jue Mei, hurry up and open the door.” The sound of Jue Mei’s grumbling could be indistinctly heard, and then suddenly, the door was opened. It was Jue Mei.
“So early?” Jue Mei Sha Yi motioned to her that there were slippers off to the side. “We’re playing mahjong right now. Mo Qingcheng’s in the kitchen making dinner. Make yourself at home, Sheng Sheng. I’m about to kick everyone’s butts, so I won’t entertain you.”
Gu Sheng answered with an “mm,” and then Jue Mei, in a very non host-like manner, had already dashed back to the balcony and sat down at the mahjong table.
After changing into a pair of slippers, Gu Sheng looked over and saw six or seven people, some immersed in the game, some spectators, surrounding the mahjong table. They all quickly greeted Gu Sheng before turning back to the game.
Everyone was treating her like an old friend and that instantly made her feel much more at ease.
But… while she was debating for a few seconds whether she should go watch them play mahjong or go to the kitchen, she saw a person stroll out from behind the frosted glass window of the kitchen.
Holding a fish in his right hand, Mo Qingcheng walked up beside the sliding door of the kitchen and said to her in greeting, “Why didn’t you call me first?”
The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up above his elbows, both of his hands were dripping wet, and a blue apron was tied around his body. Every part of him was declaring to the world that Unrivalled Allure Toupai DaRen was cooking at this moment… Gu Sheng stared at him a little blankly and only after a while did she remember that he had said he liked to do his own cooking. “Someone happened to be opening the door when I arrived downstairs, so I just came straight up…”
“It’s better this way anyway,” Feng Ya Song jumped in in a rather quiet voice. He yawned, “Why so polite? Don’t worry about those courtesies.”
“Yeah. If you’re all polite and courteous everyday, how are you going to spend the rest of your days together?” Wwwwk grabbed the remote control beside him and turned up the temperature on the thermostat slightly. “It’s not like you’re an outsider.”
While everyone was poking fun at them, Dou Dou Dou Bing unexpectedly popped her head out from behind Toupai and prodded him on the shoulder. “Toupai DaRen, step aside, please.” Toupai turned slightly to let her pass, and she stepped out holding a plate of bright red strawberries that had obviously just been washed. While munching on one, she sauntered up in front of Sheng Sheng, picked up a strawberry, and held it right up to her mouth. “It’s really sweet.”
Feeling awkward from all the teasing, Gu Sheng took advantage of this chance, bit into the strawberry, and then gave an “mm-hmm.”
It was very sweet.
Exceptionally, exceptionally sweet…
Dou Dou Dou Bing laughed, “Do you want to watch us play mahjong, or watch Toupai cook?”
“I’ll… go help him.”
Have her endure the incessant teasing? She definitely could not handle that… She might as well go to the kitchen and be with Toupai.
“Mm. Go ahead.” Dou Dou Dou Bing shrugged. “But he’s a chef and doesn’t need any help at all.”
Gu Sheng wordlessly placed her backpack on the couch in the living room. Sensing that Toupai was still standing at the kitchen entrance, she promptly rolled up her sleeves and walked over toward him. “I’ll come help you?”
He gazed at her for two seconds before suddenly chuckling, “No need.”
“How about washing veggies? Or cutting them? I do know how to do that.” She used her eyes to beg him for mercy, wanting to go with him into the kitchen so she would not have to go to the balcony where everyone’s gazes would be on her…
Mo Qingcheng looked at her for another two seconds before his eyes shifted to a corner in the living room where the refrigerator was. “Would you like a drink of water? I’m a little thirsty, too. Want to get an orange juice out of the fridge for us to share?”
“Okay.” She turned around, walked over to open the refrigerator, and pulled out a carton.
From behind her, she heard Feng Ya Song join in on the fun and pipe up, “Sheng Sheng, we’re thirsty too.”
“There are four cartons of orange juice in the fridge. Get them yourself.” Mo Qingcheng bluntly turned down his request, then turned around and walked back into the kitchen. Gu Sheng resolutely chose not to hear anything and followed him into the kitchen.
The kitchen was very large, like it had been designed for a foodie.
All the equipment and appliances one could possibly need were there. The color scheme was white and a warm orange, and in the glow of the lights, it felt especially cheery and welcoming. She pulled two drinking glasses down from the rack, filled each of them up halfway with juice, and then took a sip from one first.
Cold and sweetly tart. Very soothing.
When she went to hand him his glass, she discovered that he was already standing at the sink, continuing his work on that fish. Meticulous and skillful… And the most important point was, he did not have a free hand to take the glass, ah…
But… he said… he was thirsty…
She wrestled with herself. Staring at the side profile of his face, she hesitated for a moment but finally picked up the glass and walked up to the sink. In a soft voice, she asked, “Want some orange juice?”
Just those few words were enough to make her flustered.
She was worried he would say he did not want any and turn down her offer but also nervous he would say he did want a drink. Then, she would have to…
Mo Qingcheng lifted his head at the sound of her voice, glanced at her, and then shifted his eyes to the glass. He answered with a simple “mm.”
Holding the glass, she slowly leaned closer and touched it to his lips. Very carefully, she raised the bottom, allowing the orange juice to flow gently into his mouth.
She was breathing very slowly……
She forced herself to focus her eyes only on the glass and not at the face that was only inches away from her.
Her hands felt as if there was no strength in them. She was going to drop the glass soon T.T……
“I’m good. Thanks.”
He stopped drinking, and his lips left the glass.
Gu Sheng gripped the glass with both hands and placed it back on the marble counter.
Toupai was starting to clean the fish. He placed it onto a wooden cutting board, and every step from start to finish was done very smoothly. Gu Sheng felt she was completely useless there and very embarrassedly requested, “How about you assign me something to do?”
“You really want something to do?” Toupai gave a laugh, that last syllable faint and so entrancing.
While he used his knife to score one side of the fish, he first ordered the people outside, “Jue Mei, go tidy and set-up the table. Going to start cooking now.”
Jue Mei answered him in affirmative.
“I’ll teach you how to cook, then.” Mo Qingcheng’s voice was speaking beside her, “This dish is relatively easy to make: spicy crispy skin fish.”
“Just like this, score each side of the fish.” On the other side of the carp, he made slits, one after another, diagonally from top to bottom. The fish was evenly divided, yet the flesh still stayed attached to the bone. “Then, you mix together the egg and cornstarch that you had gotten ready ahead of time, add some salt, and spread this all evenly onto the entire fish.”
Still speaking, Mo Qingcheng picked up the bowl near his hand and began evenly brushing the mixture onto the fish.
His technique was extremely gentle and thorough.
This was the first time he was teaching her face-to-face instead of just using his voice like in the past… Such a beautiful voice, delectable food… and a gorgeous person standing right before her, teaching her. Gu Sheng felt, even if she really wanted to remember what he was telling her, there was not much of a chance……
Especially because he was right beside her.
“Later, when we are actually ready to cook it, we will put the entire fish into the wok of frying oil. When it’s fried to a golden color, we can take it out and put it on the plate.” Mo Qingcheng set the fish off to the side, washed the cutting board, brought over the ink cap mushrooms and cauliflower he had prewashed, and began prepping for the next dish, all the while still describing the recipe for the fish. “Leave some oil in the wok and put some minced ginger and garlic into it. Stir-fry them to release the aroma and then add high soup, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and some store-bought chili sauce. Stir-fry until they’re evenly mixed and then pour it all on top of the fish with some scallions.”
“Mm.” She was not sure if she had committed all of this to memory.
“Um… nearly, I think.”
Toupai was already turning on the stove.
With a “poof,” flames were dancing around the burner.
“I’m a doctor. You knew that, right?” Mo Qingcheng unexpectedly changed the subject.
“Huh?” Gu Sheng’s mind was still thinking about fish, and she could not seem to keep up with him. “Yes…”
She could guess and piece together most of it anyways.
“My parents are both doctors as well.” He poured some oil into the wok and started to heat it up. “They are usually very busy, so we don’t have many opportunities to see each other. That’s why, when I was bored, I started voice acting.”
“Oh.” She was slowly starting to adjust to Toupai’s train of thought and was able to process what seemed like a self-introduction.
Why did she feel like she, Sheng Sheng Man [slow voice/sound], was always half a beat slower than Toupai when she was around him? …
But… this was so magical.
Toupai, who to this day remained a mystery in the 2-D world, was right here before her, cooking and talking at the same time. And he was talking about those things she had once been curious and speculated about…
“I’m really not that complicated, a very simple person, actually.” He slid the fish into the wok, beginning the methodical process of frying it. The sizzle, sizzle sounds and also the sound of the range hood fan blended together to make everything here that much more real… Gu Sheng was watching him fry the fish while, at the same time, admiring how skillful his hands were.
Soon after, he shut off the burner.
The fish had been fried to a beautiful golden and placed on a plate made of white porcelain. “That’s it. A nice golden color means that it’s crispy and basically cooked through. Don’t wait too long to take it out of the oil, otherwise the fish will be overdone.”
“Okay.” She nodded to indicate that she had committed his words to memory.
“Sheng Sheng?” He poured most of the oil in the wok into a clean, white bowl.
“Hmm?” she answered him as she recalled the recipe. “Time to stir fry the ginger and garlic now?”
He turned the hood fan off. The kitchen suddenly was filled with a brief, peaceful silence. “I like you a lot.”
Her eyes widened. She had not pulled her mind out from the recipe yet.
He smiled, “Will you be my girlfriend?”
“…… We’ve only seen each other a few times……”
Sheng Sheng Man, can you not always be half a beat behind on everything? T.T……
“With this sort of thing, the number of times we’ve seen each other doesn’t really matter,” Mo Qingcheng dismissed her argument lightly.
“What if… we aren’t suitable for each other?”
“What if we are?”
“If we don’t even start, we won’t know the ending, right?”
All of a sudden, there was a light click. Toupai once again turned on the range hood fan, tossed the minced ginger and garlic into the wok, and then added the other seasonings… At once, the entire kitchen was filled with a delicious aroma. “Smell good?”
His voice gently and enticingly asked her. He had obviously lowered it into a voice that was deliberately alluring.
A voice she could not resist, guiding her answer.
“Then remember to eat more later.”
So… their conversation was considered… done now? …
Apparently, Toupai felt the topic was closed already. He was fully immersed in the cooking mood now. But she… felt as if her entire body was burning up. There was absolutely no difference between her and that carp that had just finished being fried… Totally no difference…