Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 60: Brother
Since he was directed to work in succession, Zhang Siyi was too embarrassed to leave the kitchen so he stood by fearing that Gu Yu would ask him for more help.
There isn’t a lot of food; a few green vegetables, a potato, three eggs, some pork, a tomato and some herbs. Zhang Siyi can’t imagine what you can make with so few ingredients.
Gu Yu took the potatoes in his hands, contemplating his next move and said, “Cooking and designing are similar. It’s just a game of combinations and permutations.”
Zhang Siyi: “???”
Gu Yu picked up the kitchen knife and started cutting the potatoes into pieces. He spoke: “There are so different ways to use the ingredients one needs to decide what is the best use of the resource, so none is wasted. Zhang Siyi, if you are the chef with these ingredients, what would you do?”
Mind void of any answers, Zhang Siyi looked blankly at him. There is a relationship between food and design? Is this a test? As the past has proven, Zhang Siyi suspected this is some sort of test. In order to avoid digging himself a huge pit, he wants to say: “You are so good, then you do it!” …Yes! He can say that!
However, Gu Yu asked, and Zhang Siyi could only obediently answer. He contemplated the question for a few moments and thought of simple dishes then reluctantly said: “Tomato scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, fried vegetables, braised pork.” It seems that the ingredients can only do this.
“That’s all you can do with these little ingredients.” Gu Yu smiled and commented: “Is it really good to make tomato scrambled eggs with only one tomato and three large eggs?”
Zhang Siyi: “….” It doesn’t matter how suitable it is, you can still eat it!
Gu Yu cut the potatoes, took the pork belly and put it in his hand and measured it. He said: “If the meat is thoroughly cooked, it will shrink. If it was a different cut of meat it would be the same size.” Gu Yu circled a rice bowl.
Zhang Siyi saw Gu Yu looking at himself grinning as if Gu Yu was ridiculing him. Zhang Siyi wanted to scream. You said that you are doing it for me!
Gu Yu put the meat on the cutting board. With a kitchen knife he cut four quarters, and then cut the remaining three-quarters into pieces, and the potatoes seemed to be exactly one to one. Then he sliced the quarter of the meat he measured and placed it next to the evenly beaten eggs. Finally, he cut the tomato into small pieces and put it in a small bowl then placed it next to the egg. Watching Gu Yu Zhang Siyi still doesn’t understand completely.
While he was prepping the ingredients, Gu Yu put a pot of water on the stove to boil. From the top of the cabinet, he took out a box of starch and gave it to Zhang Siyi.
“Hey, do you want this to thicken or use it to coat the meat?” Zhang Siyi asked.
Gu Yu gawked at him: “You know all this?” Looks like you can cook, too.
Zhang Siyi: “……” Shit! Exposed!
Gu Yu was very happy and handed him the boiled meat piece directly to him: “I’ll leave the coating to you.”
Starch has the effect of tenderizing meat. If the raw meat is coated in starch and then fried, the taste will become smoother and more tender. However, too much on the meat will cause the starch to become a paste wrapped around the meat and thus ruining the taste.
At Gu Yu’s command, Zhang Siyi clenched his jaw and felt that he was way too comfortable at telling him what to do.
With a ‘sizzle’, Gu Yu began making the first dish; fried eggs with minced meat.
The strips of meat that was coated in starch was placed on the bottom of the pot to be fried crispy. Then, green onion, cooking wine and soy sauce was added to the pan. Lastly, half the egg liquid was dropped into the pan and the kitchen was overflowing with a pleasant aroma.
When Zhang Siyi turned around, he saw Gu Yu turning the pot to flatten the eggs, and the expression of concentration was the same as when he was designing. Even though it was hot, and the kitchen became smoky, the scene before Zhang Siyi made him think that Gu Yu looked gentler and more amiable.
The golden minced omelet was placed on the side of the pot, but Gu Yu didn’t stop there. He grabbed the meat prepared by Zhang Siyi to make the next dish and started braising the potato slices.
Watching him for a little while, Zhang Siyi couldn’t help but ask: “When did you learn to cook?”
The roar from the range hood was loud and Gu Yu did not hear clearly. Zhang Siyi got closer and asked again.
Gu Yu smiled and said: “From an early age.”
Zhang Siyi: “How young were you?”
Gu Yu: “In Junior high school. My parents were very busy at that time, so I did my own cooking.”
Zhang Siyi was shocked. At such a young age he was already self-reliant. Not only was Gu Yu cooking for himself every day, but he also took the number 1 position in high school and entered Big T University. Compared to himself, as a child with nothing to worry about, there was never anything for him to do!
Gu Yu said again: “I have a younger sister that is one year younger than you. When I was in junior high school, she was only in elementary school. She had to rely on me to cook for her.”
Zhang Siyi gawked: “You have a sister!? What about your family?”
Gu Yu: “Yes. My parents were fined a lot of money, so I always joked that she was buying food to deliver.”
That being said, Zhang Siyi found that when Gu Yu mentioned his sister, both his tone and expression were gentle.
None of these dishes added vinegar, but Zhang Siyi smelled something sour… Why didn’t he have a big brother like Gu Yu?
Zhang Siyi asked: “So, what is she doing now?”
Gu Yu: “My sister? She is still in college.”
Zhang Siyi: “Where is she studying? What program?”
This time, Gu Yu did not answer right away. He put in some garlic and stirred the green vegetables before turning his head to look at Zhang Siyi. He asked, “I am so curious. Do you want to be my brother-in-law?”
Zhang Siyi： “…………” Fuck off!
Finally, with the rest of the egg and tomato, Gu Yu made a small bowl of tomato soup for two.
In less than an hour, three dishes and one soup were brought to the table by Zhang Siyi. The seemingly too few ingredients were transformed into a hearty meal prepared by Gu Yu.
Zhang Siyi looked at the table covered in fragrant food. Mouth salivating, stomach rumbling; can’t wait to eat: “Boss! Come eat”
Gu Yu washed his hands, suddenly remembered what, and from the cupboard under the bucket he removed an old wine jar.
Outside the kitchen, Zhang Siyi did not wait for his response and instead ran back over and asked: “What are you doing?”
He saw Gu Yu put a small pot on the gas stove and ignite it. There was a slight smell of distiller’s grains in the air, and it gradually became thicker and thicker.
“What did you just call me?” Gu Yu asked.
“Ah?” Zhang Siyi was curious about what he was doing so he wasn’t really thinking about it deeply. With a half-hearted reply he said “Boss?”
While holding the handle of the pot, he wasn’t is a hurry to adjust the stove temperature. He raised is brow: “In private you are also calling me Boss?”
Zhang Siyi: “Ah? Isn’t that your name? Than what do I call you?”
Watching Zhang Siyi, Gu Yu grinned with a faint smile and stated: “Call me Gege**.”
Zhang Siyi: “…” …..o////o…..
When Gu Yu says such things to him in all seriousness Zhang Siyi is confused. Does he really want to be called brother? Is he flirting? Or is he joking? What does he really want? Zhang Siyi felt uncomfortable and blushed than changed the topic: “What are you cooking?”
Trying to change the subject in this way is too obvious. Gu Yu saw him turn bright red, but luckily for Zhang Siyi, Gu Yu didn’t continue to tease him and answered truthfully:” Since its cold, I’m preparing a hot drink for us to warm up.”
Zhang Siyi inhaled deeply through his nose and smelled the wine. His eyes were getting brighter and brighter: “What kind of wine is this? It smells good! What supermarket is it from?”
Gu Yu: “It’s homemade rice wine made by me.”
Zhang Siyi looked at Gu Yu like a rare animal and was surprised: “You can still make wine?”
“What’s so hard about making rice wine? It can be brewed with glutinous rice and koji.” Gu Yu briefly told him about the process of brewing rice wine, what type of rice, cooking, cooling, mixing….. A process for people who have not been exposed to brewing at all is extremely complex. However, in Gu Yu’s view it’s as easy to do as making rice with a rice cooker. So simple!
Zhang Siyi is really curious: “You are usually very busy with work staying late in the company. Where is there so much time?”
Gu Yu took the stained chopsticks and dipped them into the wine to test the temperature again. He turned off the fire and answered Zhang Siyi: “I’m not chatting with friends online.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
This man really does not forget to point out his faults all the time! Since he got to work, he rarely chatted with his friends on social media anymore!
Finally, it’s time to eat dinner. Gu Yu took two small glasses out and poured the wine. He put the hot pan on a wood block on the table and a handmade cotton pad was used to keep the wine warm.
After gently tapping the glasses for a toast, Zhang Siyi was going to say a few words of thanks, but he didn’t expect Gu Yu to immediately drink the whole glass.
“Hey, the temperature is just right.” Gu Yu whispered.
Well, Zhang Siyi is not convinced. He put the wine glass to his lips to test it. The temperature of the wine is slightly higher than that of his tongue. Swallowing the wine, it tastes sweet and intoxicating. When the cup goes down, only the limbs are warm. After a few more words, it seemed like Gu Yu didn’t want to talk while eating, so Zhang Siyi quietly ate his meal.
Initially, Zhang Siyi thought he would be very nervous eating with Gu Yu. He didn’t expect the atmosphere to be so relaxed.
This is quite different from the ease of eating with Fu Xinhui. When together with Fu Xinhui, they will talk a lot about things. It is better to say that they are eating through the process of talking.
However, eating with Gu Yu, Zhang Siyi feels that he is enjoying the meal itself. With every sip of wine, he drinks and every dish he tastes he is over filled with happiness.
Regardless of whether the insulation in the old house is very good or not, Zhang Siyi can hear the howling wind outside. When the north wind gusts, it whistles through the gaps between the houses. But their environment in which they were located was so warm that even the expression on Gu Yu face was warm and beautiful. When he met the other person eyes, it was like he could see through time.
This is his first time in half a year to experience this feeling. He didn’t when Fu Xinhui and Jiang Hai rented a house together. He didn’t when he got payed the first time. He didn’t when he received his first bonus. Although he is optimistic, in his heart, he always felt restless and uneasy.
For the first time, he felt calm and stability and it was because of the simple meal that Gu Yu cooked for him. At this moment, it seems that no matter how windy and rainy outside, as long as he is with Gu Yu, he will not be afraid of anything.
Immersed in the sense of security, Zhang Siyi didn’t want this moment to end.
The author has something to say: [Flower arrangement.]
Last night had a dream, dream to Gu Xiao Hand pinch a piece of cake tease four aunts, four aunt jumped feet up to eat, after eating put gu Xiao’s hand licked again … Be sweet and silly.
T/N: gege : (哥哥) The direct translation to English is elder brother but there are deeper implications to the word not culturally equivalent in English. Not only does it mean Brother in Chinese, but in the context of the novel, the word also means a mature and handsome man, wanting an emotional connection, adoration…. Similar to ‘Oppa’ in Korean, girls can call a boyfriend Gege.