Xianlu Country was a coastal country that was also rich in resources.Because it was far from the Great State of Yan and separated by a hilly area with a threat from other enemy countries, it was also more friendly to the Great State of Yan. Likewise, because of its abundant materials, people did not worry about food and clothing.
In addition, they also engaged in sea trade, so their country was relatively rich. In comparison, although the Great State of Yan also has territory near the sea, the environment there was harsh, so the people of the Great State of Yan mainly lived inland.
After learning about these two countries, Shao Yunan discussed… “Shijing, do you think this will work? Lord An’s purpose is to retain the merchants. We just need to help him achieve it. The people of this mountain tribe are tough and may prefer to drink strong wine.”
“We may be able to repackage the liquor in the space, saying that we brewed it ourselves and say the amount is small because we needed to use food. If they like it, they can only wait patiently. As for Xianlu Country, we can seduce them with rice wine. Anyway, as long as we don’t let them be pulled away by the Marquis of Hengyuan it will be fine.”
Wang Shijing said, “I think people in Xianlu Country would like liquor. I once heard someone say that Xianlu Country is cold and has long winters, so they might prefer stronger wine. But, what if they don’t want goat’s milk wine and want liquor? Can you make it?”
Shao Yunan replied, “I’ve learned that liquor is mainly about the distillation method and I have a full set of tools in the space, but I can’t brew the same taste as the famous wine. We should just give them ordinary liquor and keep the good one for you to drink. It’s better if they ask for liquor. Liquor is limited, so if they want it, they would need to go through action. In this way, we would also earn more money.”
Wang Shijing looked at his wife adoringly. “My wife is very good. What about the tea?” Shao Yunan said, “We told the outside world that we have run out of tea, so we definitely can’t take it out at this moment. As I guessed, the people of the mountain tribe will probably prefer wine anyway. Xianlu Country…”
Shao Yunan wondered if the people from Xianlu Country would be like those of Taiji Country. People from that country liked to eat kimchi, miso soup, seafood, barbecue and so on. He said, “I will make several kinds of kimchi and then make some barbecue sauce, and so on. Let’s see if the people from Xianlu Country would like it. If they like it, I will have a bit more confidence.”
Wang Shijing said, “The people of the mountain tribe also like to eat roasted meat, they mainly eat meat.”
“That’s even better.” Eunuch An’s side was in a hurry and when they thought of a solution, Shao Yunan and Wang Shijing immediately started to act on it. A lot of the liquor in the space was in glass bottles, so they definitely couldn’t use it. Shao Yunan poured the liquor into clay jars, not caring if it would affect the taste of the wine.
Wang Shijing followed Shao Yunan’s request and prepared the ingredients for making kimchi and then lent Shao Yunan a hand. The two of them worked in the space for two whole nights, before asking the person who delivered the letter to them and who was waiting for their reply, to deliver two small jars of liquor and a bamboo box of various kimchi, barbecue sauce, and so on to Eunuch An in an urgent manner.
The barbecue sauce was Shao Yunan’s own sauce, based with seasonings prepared by him. He had done his best to retain the merchants and could only leave the rest to Eunuch An.
In the capital, Eunuch An was waiting anxiously. He had already informed the Empress about this matter and both the Empress and the Emperor gave him a deadly order to keep the merchants of the Mountain People Tribe and the Xianlu Country no matter what and not let Marquis Hengyuan take them away.
Emperor Yongming was so angry that he lost his temper in Jingyou Palace when he heard that Marquis Hengyuan was trying to openly rob him of business. It could only be because they really didn’t take him seriously as the Emperor. The Empress could only appease Emperor Yongming. The patience they showed now would only be rewarded twice as much later. Looking at such a furious Emperor Yongming, the Empress no longer felt anger and only hoped that Shao Yunan would have an idea.
After waiting anxiously for eleven days, looking at the half-month deadline Eunuch An was so anxious that he developed a mouth ulcer. Even Jiang Kangchen couldn’t eat and sleep. He also didn’t want to go back to his mansion, so he helped and accompanied Eunuch An every day in Yunlong Pavilion.
On the twelfth day, Eunuch An, who had not yet woken up, was called for by his subordinates. Eunuch An was now basically living in Yunlong Pavilion, as he ate and slept there. When he heard that the confidant he sent to Xiushui Village had returned, Eunuch An immediately jumped up from his bed.
“Go and wake Master Jiang up.” The person who came immediately ran to call Jiang Kangchen. When Eunuch An and Jiang Kangchen ran into the backyard almost one after another, both of them were disheveled and their hair was messy. Eunuch An, who was still wearing his sleeping clothes shouted, “Where is everyone? Where is everyone? What did Yunan say?”
“My Lord.” An Yi, who had just rushed back without even bothering to take a sip of water, knelt down on one knee, sweating in front of Eunuch An and saluted. He then quickly stood up and took out Shao Yunan’s letter from his lapel and gave it to Eunuch An.
Eunuch An almost snatched it away as An Yi said, “The two masters wanted this slave to give this box to your Excellency. They didn’t say anything else. Only that they want you to read the letter first, before opening the boxes.”
Eunuch An… “I see. You have worked hard. Go to the account room to get 5 taels of silver, then you are free to go home and rest for three days.”
“Thank you, Your Excellency.” An Yi knelt down and thanked him, then got up and left. “Lord An, quickly read what Yunan wrote. With no outsiders left, Jiang Kangchen urged. Eunuch An hurriedly took out the letter, as Jiang Kangchen went over to read it together with him.
Looking at it, Eunuch An and Jiang Kangchen showed surprised expressions on their faces as they quickly finished reading. Eunuch An then stuffed the letter into Jiang Kangchen’s hand, squatted down, and began to open the box. Jiang Kangchen read the letter again and said with a smile, “It really is Yunan. He really has a lot of ideas. But when did this kid make liquor? I just came back, but didn’t hear him mention anything about it.”
Eunuch An, who had already opened the box, looked at the contents while laughing and cursing. “That kid loves to surprise us. The next time we see him, we have to talk to him. If we knew he had this liquor, we wouldn’t be in such a hurry.”
Jiang Kangchen squatted down and asked, “Your Excellency, do you think those people will like this ‘liquor’?” Eunuch An thought about it and said, “Let’s enter the palace right now and let the Emperor and Empress taste it first.”
Recently, Emperor Yongming was in a good mood. Elder Weng and General Dai had also returned to their respective mansions. To outsiders, it seemed that Emperor Yongming was discussing business with them, but what really happened was that the business only took one morning and after that it was time for the four of them to play mahjong.
If it wasn’t for the strong self-control of Elder Weng and Old General Dai, Emperor Yongming would still be indulging in it. Because of this, the two old men who were originally planning to live in the palace for half a month, stayed for a month and then hurried back to their own houses, because if they didn’t leave they would also be addicted.
After dealing with the political affairs, Emperor Yongming was chatting with the Empress in Jingyou Palace when Zhuo Jin came in to report that Eunuch An and Jiang Kangchen had arrived. Jiang Kangchen did not have the qualification to enter the palace at any time, but Eunuch An did. As soon as he heard they had arrived, Emperor Yongming immediately asked them to come over.
The two people who came in kowtowed first and then Eunuch An presented Shao Yunan’s letter to the Emperor and Empress, saying, “Reporting to the Emperor and Empress, the person I sent to Xiushui Village has returned. Shao Yunan and Wang Shijing came up with an idea to keep the merchants from the Mountain People Tribe and Xianlu Country, so I didn’t dare to delay.”
Empress… “You have worked hard. Have a seat.”
“The slave is not tired, the slave will stand.”
If Eunuch An did not sit, Jiang Kangchen could not sit either. The Empress knew that Eunuch An would not sit in front of him, so he didn’t try to force him. He just read the letter with Emperor Yongming. After reading the letter, Emperor Yongming became interested. “What kind of liquor is it? Let me taste it.”
The Empress smiled, not ignoring the Emperor’s greed and said, “Eunuch An go to the imperial kitchen and roast some meat according to the letter and let the Emperor try it. The people of the Mountain People Tribe and Xianlu Country love roasted meat. Shao Yunan is really smart.”
In fact, there were too few preparation methods in this era, so everyone basically ate grilled meat. Emperor Yongming immediately took over. “Also get me some of those kimchi to try.”
“Yes.” Eunuch An took back the letter and took the roast meat seasoning with Eunuch Zhuo to the imperial kitchen room to prepare the meat.
The Empress looked at Jiang Kangchen and said, “It was Elder Weng who recommended you highly to the Emperor and I, so I used you. Up to now, I have noticed your hard work. The tea and wine business you are responsible for are also doing very well. You went to Xiushui Village for the New Year and brought back some good business. Eunuch An reported it to me. You can continue to do so.”
Jiang Kangchen immediately bowed and said, “I will do my best to live up to the trust of the Empress.” The Empress then said, “You are now appointed as the Secretary of the Inner Officials of the Emperor. Once you have important matters, you can go directly to the palace to meet with me, without waiting for me. Tomorrow, the decree will be issued.”
Jiang Kangchen looked up in shock, then immediately knelt down and kowtowed. “I thank the Emperor and Empress for their grace for a thousand years!”
“Thank you, Your Majesty’ Jiang Kangchen stood up as he tried to suppress his inner shock. Emperor Yongming said at this time, “From now on you are the Empress’ representative when you are outside. Don’t do anything that damages the dignity of the Empress.”
“I respect Your Majesty’s teachings and I will be strict with myself.” Emperor Yongming liked to see his Empress having something to do and him having capable subordinates. If there was a person who was the wise helper of Emperor Yongming, it was definitely none other than Empress.
Then, Emperor Yongming asked Jiang Kangchen in detail about the business situation of the several stores. He was very happy to hear Jiang Kangchen say that the business of the restaurant was almost full every day. He also heard Jiang Kangchen say that he and Eunuch An were preparing to open a hot pot restaurant and that the restaurant was going to add a few new dishes, so Emperor Yongming immediately got excited and asked for details about which new dishes were going to be added.
After listening to Jiang Kangchen’s detailed description, Emperor Yongming struggled to overcome his saliva, while the Empress beside him tried hard to hold back his laughter. As Emperor Yongming’s bedmate, Dai Qiyou knew very well how gluttonous his Emperor was. But every time he thought about it he felt sorry for this man. The reason why Emperor Yongming loved to eat so much was because he once had the miserable experience of starvation.
When Jiang Kangchen finished speaking, Emperor Yongming immediately asked Jiang Kangchen to prepare a hot pot for him to eat, as well as the sheep meat whose sound made him drool. Jiang Kangchen was very embarrassed. Recently, because of the tea and wine, he and Eunuch An didn’t care so much about the hot pot restaurant. The chef of Yunlong Pavilion also didn’t have time to train according to the recipe provided by Shao Yunan.
They also needed to find another chef for the hot pot restaurant. The recipes were required to be absolutely confidential and couldn’t be given to just anyone to make. It was the Empress who spoke and advised the Emperor to be patient for the time being. As long as Jiang Kangchen and Eunuch An opened the hot pot restaurant, the Emperor could eat it whenever he wanted. Only then did Emperor Yongmin stop making things difficult for Jiang Kangchen.
Eunuch An and Eunuch Zhuo came back. As soon as they came in, Emperor Yongming sat up straight and stared at the plates in the hands of the two men, as well as the chef and eunuchs of the imperial kitchen who had followed them. Even the Empress blinked in surprise.
Dai Qiyou was most skilled at cooking barbecue, but the barbecue that Eunuch An and the others brought exuded a fragrance that he had never smelled before. Eunuch An and Eunuch Zhuo stepped forward and stood in front of Emperor Yongming and the Empress respectively, asking them to taste it. Emperor Yongming first picked up a skewer of barbecued meat, smelled it, nodded in satisfaction, and then took a bite.
“Hmm!” As soon as the roasted meat entered his mouth, Emperor Yongming’s eyes changed. Then he started chewing quickly, taking two or three bites before finishing the piece of meat. “It’s delicious! It’s really delicious! Try it, Your Majesty.”
The Empress picked up a skewer and took a bite, with the same expression as Emperor Yongming, nodding repeatedly. “The taste is really good. I think I am good at grilling meat, but this is too different. You all try it too.”
“Thank you for the reward, Empress.” Everyone present had the honor of tasting the roast meat. Eunuch An and Jiang Kangchen’s first reaction after eating it was ‘How come I forgot to ask Yunan for the recipe for this roast meat ingredient!’
The current chef of the imperial kitchen knelt down after tasting a piece of the meat and said, “Your Majesty, after using the barbecue ingredients given by Eunuch An, the roast meat was already mouth-watering before it even entered my mouth. I don’t know where Lord An got this roast meat, but after eating it, I really can’t serve your Majesty with my skills.”
Emperor Yongming who had already eaten the fourth skewer just said, “This is also the first time I have eaten such delicious roast meat. Of course it’s still a bit worse than the Empress’ roast meat, but it’s already very good.”
Empress Dai Qiyou just laughed and was a little embarrassed by what the Emperor just said. Eunuch An, Eunuch Zhuo, and Jiang Kangchen also kept their mouths shut and just smiled. Jiang Kangchen was well aware of how much the Emperor loved his Empress.
“The barbecue ingredients were brought back by Eunuch An, but I really don’t know where he got them from.” Emperor Yongming completely pushed the matter to Eunuch An. “Eunuch An, where did you get the barbecue ingredients? The taste is really good, I want to reward you.”
Eunuch An said with a smile on his face, “Your Majesty, loving to eat it is already a blessing for this servant, so how can I ask for a reward? This roast meat material was made by my nephew and since Your Majesty likes it, I will ask him to make more and send it to the palace.” The Empress nodded in satisfaction. “You have a heart. Ask him to send more to the palace. Tell him that both the Emperor and Empress love to eat it.”
Eunuch An only said that it was his nephew who made it without mentioning the recipe for the barbecue ingredients. The Empress and Emperor also didn’t ask. But the imperial chef was not a fool. Knowing that he had no chance to see this recipe, he didn’t dare to say anything more.
Now everyone in the palace knew that the Empress had opened a restaurant and Eunuch An was in charge of it. This recipe was also probably for that restaurant. The imperial chef thought about it, and said: “Since the Emperor and Empress like to eat it, this servant will serve it next time with some wine, so that it will be even more delicious.” Emperor Yongming… “Good. You may go.”
“Yes.” The imperial chef retreated with the young eunuchs from the imperial kitchen, as Emperor Yongming immediately said, “Pour wine for me.”
Edited by: Jaisland