Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
“Master, let’s leave. That pot of beans is dirty!” After Lone Wolf confirmed that no one was looking, he secretly said to Fangzheng.
Fangzheng was taken aback. “Why do you say so?”
“Just now, when I climbed onto the kitchen top, I saw that the beans in the pot weren’t washed. They even had mud on them. Leave quickly, or we might end up with a stomach ache,” Lone Wolf said furtively.
Fangzheng immediately laughed when he heard that. He struck Lone Wolf on the head and said, “Silly, it just wasn’t washed, but that doesn’t mean it’s dirty.”
“It wasn’t washed? Then how can it be eaten? Master, let’s run.” Lone Wolf widened his eyes wide. Although he also used to eat things raw and chew on bones in mud holes in the past, he had become a wolf that cared about hygiene after moving to the mountain!
Fangzheng laughed. “This is a necessary step to making bean paste. The beans are not to be washed and are fried first before they’re cooked… Forget it, follow me in and take a look.”
Fangzheng led Lone Wolf into the building outside, and they happened to see Du Mei finish frying a huge pot of beans. The beans were then poured into a huge plate and washed.
Upon seeing this, Lone Wolf heaved a sigh of relief. At the very least, they weren’t eating mud.
When Fangzheng saw this, he asked the question Lone Wolf had asked.
Du Mei smiled. “I wanted you to learn this a long time ago, but you refused. Now, you begin asking? Let me tell you this, if the beans are washed ahead of time, it will be very difficult to dry them, and it would be a waste of time to wait for them to dry. Washing them after they are done frying makes it less troublesome. This is also the first step we follow in the northeast when making bean paste. Then comes the cooking.”
As Du Mei spoke, she finished washing the beans. She then poured them into the pot, added water, and covered the lid.
Yang Hua was helping out. He added timber and began to cook the pot with a huge flame.
Du Mei believed that Fangzheng wanted to learn how to make bean paste, so she patiently explained. “There are things to take note of when cooking. There can’t be too much water or too little—about three times the amount of the beans. Cook it on a high fire for an hour. In the process, whenever the water has completely evaporated, add more water. However, one must add hot water instead of cold water.”
As she spoke, Du Mei brought Fangzheng and Lone Wolf into the house. As she took care of the two infants who were sleeping soundly, she said, “After it’s done cooking, we need to grind them to pieces. This step depends on personal preference. Some people like it fragmented, so you need to be lighter. Our family doesn’t like it too fragmented, so we grind it until we can’t see the bean fragments. Then we make the bean paste blocks and let them ferment. This takes some time. After the fermentation is done, we crack the blocks and cover them to be dried. After the paste is dried, we add water and salt, heat it up and mix it. After we take it off the fire and cool it, we put it in a jar and put the now small-sized bean paste blocks in. We mix that again and use a permeable cloth to cover it and place it in an airy place with sunlight. Remember, there must be sunlight. Only with sunlight will the bean paste ferment. When there’s plenty of sun, pull away the cloth and let the sunlight shine directly on it to ferment. It can then be eaten a month later. Make sure not to eat it immediately. It has to be fully fermented before you eat; otherwise, you might get food poisoning.
“In addition, during this period, you must use a bean paste rod to mix it from bottom to top. In the beginning, it’s a tiny piece but slowly, it melts. As you mix it daily, if there are black items on the surface, you must throw them away. Otherwise, not only will it be ugly, it will also have a moldy stench. After the bean paste is done a month later, it looks like gruel. Whether it’s used as a dipping sauce with green vegetables or for noodles, that’s when it’s just right. Later on, as the water slowly evaporates, the bean paste turns more solid.”
Upon saying that, her child suddenly started crying, so Du Mei hurriedly coaxed it.
Fangzheng took this opportunity to leave.
“Master, why did you make such detailed inquiries?” Lone Wolf asked out of curiosity when they were out the door.
Fangzheng rolled his eyes. “I know all of this. It was meant for you. Did you remember it?”
“What did she say?” Lone Wolf asked in a daze.
Fangzheng smacked him directly. To think that after all was said, it turned out this a**hole had been daydreaming! What a waste of time!
“Master, Master, are we just leaving? Aren’t we waiting to get the bean paste?” Lone Wolf wasn’t afraid of the pain. He followed behind and kept asking.
“What’s there to take? We can take it in a month or two…”
“Uh… That long?” Lone Wolf instantly lost his interest. He was only interested in delicacies that were right in front of him.
Fangzheng shook his head in exasperation. In fact, northeastern bean paste was typically made at the beginning of the new year. However, some people liked it before the end of the year, right after the frost descended. This was because during these two time periods, the weather was cold and there weren’t disgusting insects like flies or mosquitoes to mess things up. The bean paste produced would be clean and hygienic.
Du Mei belonged to the type of family which did it before the new year, so that they could eat it at the beginning of the year.
What Fangzheng wanted from Du Mei naturally wasn’t the new batch of bean paste. Instead, he wanted the leftovers from last year. While walking through the village, he could smell the scent of beans every few houses. Apart from that scent, there was also the smell of autumn. Fangzheng licked his lips and could not help but look up the mountain. Time sure passed slow.
Fangzheng went around with Lone Wolf and bought some coarse salt before returning to the mountain.
When he returned to the mountaintop, Fangzheng ran to take a look at the flower pot. Indeed, a sprout had already appeared, and it was a finger long! At this speed, Fangzheng guessed that it wouldn’t need until the next day. It would probably be mature in the middle of the night.
For the rest of the time, Fangzheng chanted scriptures, ate, and slept.
The next day before dawn, Fangzheng woke up before the rooster even crowed. It wasn’t that he wished to wake up early, but that he heard a loud sound outside. It was as though something had shattered. Then, he heard Lone Wolf exclaiming outside. “Who is it!? Uh, what the blazing hell is this? That’s not right… Master! Quick, come! It’s a huge cabbage!”
Before Fangzheng even walked out, he heard Red Boy grumble. “Senior Brother, why are you shouting so early in the morning? How big can a cabbage be? What’s the fuss… Holy sh*t! This cabbage is huge!”
“What cabbage? I never heard that our monastery grows cabbages?” Monkey’s voice sounded. Instantly, it turned into an exclamation. “My Buddha, how is this so big!?”
Then, he heard Squirrel’s grumbling. “It isn’t even dawn yet. Are you trying to compete with the rooster? What’s up? Eh, what is this? Is it a cabbage? It’s huge!”
Fangzheng, who hadn’t shirked off his sleepiness yet, obviously couldn’t sleep any longer when he heard his disciples’ conversations. He hurriedly got up and berated them. “No matter how big a cabbage is, it’s still a cabbage. Is there a need to make such a fuss? It’s not that I want to reprimand you, but since you have become Buddhists, you should learn to be composed like Buddha. You must remain unperturbed even if the sky falls. Get it? If it’s big, we call it nappacabbage 1 , and if it’s small, just call it bok choy 2 !
As Fangzheng spoke, he pushed the door, only to discover… that he couldn’t push it open!
“What’s happening?” Fangzheng was astounded. “Who’s blocking the door?”
“Master, wait a moment. I’ll move the cabbage away.” Red Boy shouted. After a while, Red Boy said, “Master, it’s done.”
When Fangzheng opened the door and was about to say something, he stood rooted to the ground. He saw that right in front of him, there was a meter tall, one meter and a half wide cabbage in front of him! The leaves of the cabbage were like a tiny bed!