Chapter 8: The Culinary Tycoon

Spicy Fish Head

When he returned home, Chang Hao, tired from the day’s work, couldn’t resist his drowsiness. In the main hall, Grandpa Chang was weaving mats, while Chang Le was mending clothes. They were both busy, waiting for Yu Qingze.

Upon seeing him return, Chang Le gestured to him, asking if he wanted to take a bath now and offering to fetch water for him. Grandpa Chang translated for him.

Yu Qingze shook his head, called Grandpa Chang and Chang Le to sit at the table, and then spoke to them with great seriousness, “Grandfather, Brother Le, I am new here and fortunate to have been saved by Brother Le and taken care of by you. I am truly grateful. As you know, I have no relatives or place to stay here for the time being. Therefore, I would like to discuss, no, to request something from you.”

The grandfather and grandson exchanged glances and saw the earnestness in Yu Qingze’s eyes.

Grandpa Chang said, “Go ahead, tell us.”

Yu Qingze spoke seriously to the two of them, “I would like to stay here for a period of time. I will pay monthly rent, and once I am financially capable and find a suitable place, I will move out.”

They hadn’t expected Yu Qingze to bring up this matter.

Grandpa Chang waved his hand and said, “You can stay here. It’s just a matter of providing a bed. There’s no need to talk about rent or anything.”

Chang Le also nodded in agreement.

Naturally, Yu Qingze was not willing to stay for free. He helplessly said, “Grandfather, Brother Le, if you insist on this, then I dare not stay in your house.”

Grandpa Chang stared, “What do you mean by daring or not? Haven’t you been teaching Xiao Le and Xiao Hao how to write? Didn’t you also say that you would teach Xiao Hao martial arts? Consider it as repayment. Speaking of which, we’re the ones benefiting from this.”

Yu Qingze chuckled, “If you put it that way, Brother Le saved my life too, Grandfather.”

“That’s a different matter. They can’t be mixed together.”

Yu Qingze was determined, but Grandpa Chang was even more resolute.

They went back and forth for a few rounds, but no agreement was reached.

Seeing them arguing back and forth, Chang Le suppressed a smile.

Unable to persuade the elderly man, Yu Qingze could only say, “Grandpa, I am serious. I can’t just eat and stay here for free. I hope you can understand.”

Grandpa Chang looked at him for a while and then sighed, saying, “Alright, alright, if you insist on paying, then go ahead.”

Yu Qingze smiled and said, “I don’t know the rental prices around here. What do you think about one tael of silver per month?”

Both grandfather and grandson were shocked by his generosity.

Grandpa Chang replied dryly, “Our house doesn’t have the conditions of an inn.”

Yu Qingze said, “I’ve included the cost of food as well.”

Grandpa Chang waved his hand, “Those things from the fields are not worth much. Everyone grows them, but if you try to sell them on the street, they won’t sell.”

Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.

Yu Qingze acted as if he hadn’t heard Grandpa Chang’s objection and made a final decision. “Then it’s settled. One tael of silver per month. I’ll pay for three months in advance.”

He took out a cloth pouch, unsure of how much three taels of broken silver were worth. So he simply handed three strings of copper coins to Grandpa Chang. “Grandfather, here you go.”

Grandpa Chang reluctantly accepted it and casually passed it to Chang Le.

Yu Qingze noticed that Chang Le was the one managing the money in the family. So he turned to Chang Le and said, “Brother Le, could you help me keep this silver? I don’t have a place to keep it, and once the Double Ninth Festival is over, I want to take it back. By then, I plan to do some small business in the city.”

Chang Le felt a bit hesitant. It was a considerable amount of silver, and he worried about the possibility of losing it.

Chang Le looked at Grandpa Chang, and after receiving a nod, Grandpa Chang said, “Go ahead and keep it for him.”

Only then did Chang Le accept the cloth pouch and carefully took it into the room.

Grandpa Chang looked at Yu Qingze and asked, “You want to do business in the city?”

Yu Qingze nodded, “I want to sell some snacks. I need to find a way to make a living.”

Grandpa Chang furrowed his brow, “Didn’t you lose your household registration certificate? You’ll need it to do business in the city.”

Yu Qingze exclaimed, “Ah, I completely forgot about that. Grandfather, how can I get my household registration transferred here?”

Grandpa Chang frowned and thought for a moment, “There seems to be a specialized department in the yamen that handles this. You can ask the village chief, he should know.”

“Alright, I’ll ask him.”

“Do you want to register here? In Niu Tou Village?”

“Yes, this place is great. If possible, I would like to register here.”

“You’ve got good taste! More than a dozen households in our village thought the same way and settled here. It’s been over ten years in the blink of an eye,” Grandpa Chang reminisced and couldn’t help feeling a bit emotional.

Yu Qingze curiously asked, “I heard that you all came here during the war?”

Grandpa Chang nodded, took a puff of his pipe, and his gaze became distant. “We were originally in Qingzhou on the north bank of the Qing River. The war had devastated that area severely, and we couldn’t survive there anymore. We heard that the war in the south wasn’t as severe, so we made every effort to cross the river and come here.”

The Great Sheng Dynasty was established to end the wars of the previous dynasty. It had only been fifteen years since its founding, and Yu Qingze had heard about it.

“Yes, during times of war, it’s the common people who suffer the most.” Yu Qingze hadn’t personally experienced it, so he could only express his sentiment.

Grandpa Chang let out a sigh, his eyes filled with sadness. He said with great concern, “Brother Le’s injury was caused during that time… sigh.”

Yu Qingze wanted to ask for more details, but when he saw Chang Le coming out, he promptly held his tongue and went to his room to fetch his change of clothes. He asked Chang Le, “Brother Le, can you please fetch some water for me?”

Chang Le smiled and nodded.

The next morning, Yu Qingze saw Chang Le bring back a large basket of green beans. During breakfast, he asked him about it.

Chang Le expressed some worry and explained that there were too many beans growing in the field, and they hadn’t had time to sell them recently. So they brought them back to dry, otherwise they would all spoil.

Curious, Yu Qingze asked about the common ways they cooked and consumed green beans here. He learned that they usually boiled and ate them, but if they couldn’t finish them or sell them, they would dry them into dried green beans.

The beans in the basket were fresh and tender. Yu Qingze pondered for a moment and asked, “Brother Le, do we have any empty jars at home? The kind with lids.”

Chang Le nodded and looked at him curiously, asking what he had in mind.

Yu Qingze said, “To pickle them into sour green beans.”

“Sour green beans?” Chang Hao asked curiously, “Are they delicious?”

Yu Qingze nodded and said, “They’re very appetizing and suitable for both summer and winter.”

“Are they tastier than dried green beans?” Chang Hao often ate dried green beans in winter but had a slight distaste for them.

Yu Qingze smiled and replied, “It’s a different flavor. I’ll pickle some for you to try. If you find them delicious, we can pickle a whole jar to eat in winter.”

Hearing the promise of something delicious, Chang Hao happily raised both hands in agreement, saying, “Let’s pickle them!”

If Big Brother Yu says they’re delicious, they must be super delicious! Chang Hao now had a blind admiration for Yu Qingze, especially when it came to food.

So after they finished breakfast and Chang Le and his grandfather went to work in the fields, Yu Qingze stayed home to make sour green beans.

He washed the jars clean and let them air dry naturally. Then he selected the fresh and tender green beans, removed the ends, washed them thoroughly, and let them dry. He boiled a small pot of water and let it cool down.

After all the preparations were completed, pour about half a jar of cold water directly into the jar, add the green beans, making sure they are fully submerged in water, and add a generous amount of salt. This completes the process.

Yu Qingze thought for a moment and added a few green peppers. Actually, if they had radishes, pickled radishes would also be delicious. However, since it was summer and they didn’t plant radishes for the summer, they could pick some bitter gourds instead to soak in the brine.

Finally, cover the jar with its lid and pour water along the edges of the jar to prevent air from entering. Place it in a cool place, and after two to three days, it will be ready to eat.

Since they had already made sour green beans, Yu Qingze also made a simplified version of pickled cucumbers with the remaining cucumbers.

At noon, Grandpa Chang suggested cooking the fish that the village chief had brought yesterday. Yu Qingze remembered the taste of the first meal he had here, the flavor of that fish…

“Let them enjoy the true taste of fish,” Yu Qingze muttered to himself.

There was no ginger at home, and the only things that could remove the fishy smell were rice wine and vinegar, but it wasn’t enough. Yu Qingze was worried when suddenly he remembered seeing a small patch of perilla leaves by the roadside in the village. His eyes lit up, and he decided to go and pick some to use as a substitute for ginger in removing the fishy smell.

While he was picking, he ran into the village chief.

“Aze, what are you picking this for?” the village chief asked curiously. Perilla leaves had a peculiar smell, and the villagers considered them wild plants. Even the cows didn’t like to eat them, but the doctors sometimes used them for medicinal purposes.

Yu Qingze replied, “We don’t have ginger at home, so I’m picking these as an ingredient. Village chief, did you find me because you’ve made a decision?”

“Yes. We discussed it yesterday and decided to go with your suggestion,” the village chief said. They had been discussing it with great enthusiasm until dawn, and they had finally made a decision.

During that time, something happened. The village chief’s wife discovered that thirty taels of silver were suddenly missing from their home. He panicked and hurriedly searched for them, thinking that their house had been robbed. Later, they found out that they had used the money to buy a wooden board. It caused quite a commotion, and the village chief and the two sons had to put in a lot of effort to persuade him. It was quite an ordeal.

Yu Qingze exclaimed happily, “I knew you would agree.”

The village chief smiled and then asked, “However, Aze, I wanted to discuss with you whether we could start making the threshing machine and windmill a little later?”

Yu Qingze thought for a moment and understood what the village chief and the others were thinking. They simply wanted to focus on making the rice beds before the autumn harvest. He asked, “How many people in your family can do carpentry work?”

The village chief replied, “I, Dajian, and Dayong are all skilled carpenters. My third son can only assist, and my wife also has some knowledge.”

Yu Qingze pretended to ponder for a while, then said, “I see. In that case, let’s wait until after the autumn harvest to start making the threshing machine and windmill. After the harvest, you can assign someone to work with me on designing and making the threshing machine and windmill, while the others can focus on producing other simple goods.”

Yu Qingze aimed for long-term cooperation. By allowing the village chief and his group to see the benefits first, future collaboration would be smoother. One project at a time was also feasible since no one knew about the ideas in his mind.

Besides, he also wanted the village chief’s help in resolving his household registration issue.

Upon hearing this, the village chief immediately smiled and said, “That’s a good arrangement.”

The two agreed to meet at the village chief’s house in the evening to discuss the terms of their cooperative agreement.

Back at home, estimating the time, Yu Qingze cooked rice first, set up the fire, and then began to prepare the fish.

The village chief had brought a large crucian carp, weighing about two to three catties.

Using perilla leaves as a substitute for ginger, Yu Qingze made a spicy chopped fish head dish based on the preferences of the Chang family. He marinated the remaining fish and prepared it in a bowl to make braised fish in the evening. He also made a soup with loofah and eggs, accompanied by some greens. It was a very satisfying lunch.

Once the meal was ready, the three members of the Chang family returned home.

As soon as Chang Hao entered the courtyard, he smelled the enticing aroma in the air and rushed into the house, excitedly asking, “Big Brother Yu, did you make something delicious again?”

Chang Le’s eyes also lit up. Another new dish! And it’s fish!

Unfortunately, he didn’t see how it was made, which was a little regrettable.

The greatest happiness for a food lover is to encounter a good cook!

And for a culinary novice aspiring to become a good cook, the greatest happiness undoubtedly lies in finding a good mentor!

fish head with chopped peppers
(credit: easy tour china)
Loofah Egg Soup with Veggies
(credit: souperdiaries)
Braised Carp
(credit: cchatty)


Translator has something to say: I thought the fish head dish would be a little … not so pleasant, but look at that pic .. holy carp.


  1. Thanks for the chapter!

  2. ruinthyself says:

    looking at those food pics, i’m getting hungry!! TT hahahaha thank u for the chapter~

  3. light says:

    Thank you for putting those pictures

  4. Queue says:

    I love cooking/farming novels. Especially bl ones, although I’ve been known to read het ones too.
    Thank you

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