Big and Little Sun 44: Bad News

We don’t talk about closing, no, no, no!
We don’t talk about closing… but.

It was our release day
It was our release day
We were getting ready but there wasn’t a chapter in sight
No chapters to be seen

Lucathia shows up with extremely bad news
Shocking!
No releases for now, we’ll be back
But will they, will they really be back?

Lucathia says, “The stockpile’s gone.”
Why did she tell us?
Last time I waited until dawn
Readers, get out the pitchforks
Let down in a million ways
What an awful day… but anyway.

We don’t talk about closing, no, no, no!
We don’t talk about closing!

Hey! Grew up enjoying PR’s translations and creations
I could always visit the site with no exceptions
I associate PR with quality and commitment, yeah, yeah, yeah.
It’s a heavy job with a mob so wanting
Always left the staff and the readers hanging
Grappling with release dates on the very last day.
The very last day!

The readers and us
Come along as one
When you ask for us
Nothing can’t be done
Yeah, we’re here with you
Making something new (yeah!)

We don’t talk about closing, no, no, no! (We don’t talk about closing, no, no, no!)
We don’t talk about closing (We don’t talk about closing!)

You told me the site would die
The next day: still alive! (yes, yes!)
You told me I’d never leave!
And just like you said… (yes, yes!)
You said that all my time would disappear, now look at my time (yes, yes!)
Your fate is sealed when you visit PR! and read!

You told me that the chapter of my dreams would be released here on this site.
You told me that the series would be done, just like ½ Prince and Sun Knight.
Hey, the chapter’s on its way!

You told me that the chapter of my dreams would be just out of reach
To be published soon
I really want it now
Hey you, I want more comments out of you (Help us keep going on)
Help us keep going on

Hey, PR…
Yeah about those chapters
I really do need those new chapters
Gimmie the chapters and more chapters, PR!
(Readers, your chapters will be here!)
Time for reading!

Big and Little Sun 43: The Fourth Wall

A white paper fluttered down from some unseen point above Grisia and Elaro’s heads.

Will’s message: “Congratulations to the players for receiving the %^*&#ERROR: Item not fouuuuuuund…”

The even tones of Will’s voice slurred for a moment before resuming, sounding even more mechanical than before. “… ThE TrAnSlAtOr’S nOtE. pLeAsE hElP uS.”

Even as Will finished speaking, irregular shimmering shapes appeared all around Grisia and Elaro. The shimmers looked like the water mirrors they were used to seeing summons step out of. But instead of a smooth surface and shape, the water mirrors were jagged like tears and the surface looked like it had been brought to a roiling boil.

Elaro called out in concern, “Will? What’s happening?”

Will’s response came in its usual voice, “The fourth wall has been damaged by an outside source. Players do not need to worry. Repairs will commence shortly.”

Grisia’s face twitched. How can anyone not worry upon hearing an alarming statement like that!

An arm suddenly reached out of the bubbling water mirror to their right. Grisia gripped the Sinner of Pride’s Staff and wheeled around, ready to send off a bolt of lightning. A young man wearing a T-shirt and jeans like the ones they had found for Elaro previously stumbled out of the water mirror. He had dark hair, a blue patch in one of his brown eyes, and a shocked expression.

Even as this was happening, another figure fell out of a frothing water mirror that was several meters in the air. Surprisingly, despite falling supine out of the horizontal water mirror, the person managed to right themselves mid-air and land on their feet. They landed with such an unexpectedly heavy impact that a small crater formed in the ground around their feet. Elaro suddenly realized that the person had a head of very unique and very familiar silver hair.

“Little Ah Ye?”

Despite the visor covering their face and the fact that they were a little bigger than they were yesterday, Elaro was sure he wasn’t mistaken. But the person didn’t respond to his call, instead regarding him coldly and slowly lowered themselves into a battle stance.

Elaro also went on guard. As he did so, the water mirror to the left of the person he thought of as Little Ah Ye bubbled as a dignified silhouette stepped out calmly. A delighted voice cried out, “Young Master?” As the silhouette took another step, Elaro could clearly see that this was Charles.

Strangely, the visor-wearing Ah Ye didn’t seem to relax upon seeing Charles either. A visibly puzzled expression briefly crossed Charles’s face.

Before the awkward situation could progress any further, another person slipped through the last water mirror. The surface of the water mirror barely shivered before it disappeared. In contrast to the calmness of the water mirror, the very attractive person seemed to immediately recognize that the child Grisia was the biggest threat present and immediately formed several layers of what looked like glass or ice around their body.

Grisia demanded, “Will, why are there so many summons? Can we request the readers’ support for all of them?”

Will’s response: “It seems several targets have been summoned due to the breach of the fourth wall just prior. Unfortunately, the readers’ support cannot be requested for targets summoned through an error. When repairs are complete, all targets will be returned to their worlds.”

Grisia’s face darkened and he gripped the staff harder. It would be much more difficult to convince all these people to cooperate if they were unable to promise them a reward for their troubles.

Charles abruptly spoke up, “Please, there is no need for us to fight. This is a situation we are all in together. We have been likely summoned to aid these two, not to fight them. Based on previous experience, there should be no danger to those of us summoned. If we were to die here, we would simply be returned to our world.”

The person wearing the visor and the person with the ice armor seemed to lower their guards at Charles’s words, but were still wary. The person in the T-shirt, while initially shocked, seemed to be thinking about something while taking measure of each of the other people present.

Knowing that the summoned targets were unable to hear Will’s voice, Elaro hurriedly clarified, “It was an accident that you were all brought here, but you’ll be returned home once Will is able to again. However, we do honestly need assistance. Just before you all arrived, we received this note and a cry asking for help.”

Elaro read the note aloud, and the young man in the T-shirt started when the cancelled series were mentioned. The person in the ice armor also seemed uneasy when the name “Dominion’s End” was said.

The young man in the T-shirt spoke up once Elaro was finished reading. “I recognize those names… They’re stories written by my neighbor Yu Shu. If that’s so…” He began pointing at each of the others. 

He pointed at Charles and the person with the visor. “You’re Charles and Dark Sun from No Hero.” 

Looking to the two Sun Knights, he said, “Elaro and… A small Grisia? From the series The Legend of Sun Knight.”

Pointing at the attractive man in the ice armor, he said, “Jiang Shuyu from Dominion’s End. And it looks like this world is most likely your story. It looks like it could be Charles and Dark Sun’s world…” The young man in the T-shirt surveyed the desolation and destruction around them. “…But I don’t think anything like this happens to their world.”

Jiang Shuyu immediately started cursing upon hearing those words. “Of course it has to be the Jiang family’s luck that we’re the only ones in an apocalyptic world! I can’t even catch a break by being transported to a nicer world for a little bit.”

Grisia scrutinized the young man in the T-shirt. “If you say we’re from stories, are you one of the ‘readers’ who Will says has been determining the results of the ‘livestream?’”

The young man in the T-shirt frowned, feeling that something wasn’t quite right. “I’m Jiang Ziya. I’m not sure how to explain this but… I know that I’m from the Illusions, Lies, Truth series that memo mentioned. But your stories exist in my world too.”

Grisia was stunned. Just how far does this go? Readers of readers…

Off to the side, Jiang Shuyu muttered, “Someone out there really seems to have something against anyone named ‘Jiang’ if we all ended up in the apocalypse.”

Both Elaro and Grisia quietly resolved not to tell this Jiang Shuyu fellow that this was considered the “Easy Novice World.”

Suddenly, Dark Sun lunged at one of the water mirrors. With a loud “CRACK”, he ripped the featureless head off a mechanical humanoid creature that had been emerging from that water mirror. As everyone turned to face the noise, each of them caught glimpses of other mechanical humanoids jerkily emerging from the other water mirrors still open.

Immediately following Dark Sun’s lead, Jiang Shuyu glided forward on a thin trail of ice and began smashing the robots with what looked like an icy staff. But moments later, he retreated in alarm. It was clear to everyone else present that something wasn’t quite right. Like a video put on lower resolution, Jiang Shuyu looked grainy for the few moments he was in close proximity to the robots. He called out, “They have some kind of ability that makes it more difficult to move when you’re near them!”

Seemingly unaffected, Dark Sun had already moved on to dismantling other robots. He emotionlessly said to Jiang Ziya and Charles, who were noticeably staying out of the fray, “Hit them fast and their ability shouldn’t affect you.”

Elaro called out while cleaving a robot, “We promised that Charles isn’t responsible for combat!”

While this was happening, Grisia hadn’t been standing around either. With a large blast of lightning, the majority of the robots were charred and melted. Suddenly the surroundings seemed to flicker into darkness for an instant.

It was at this moment that a notification came from Will: “The YuBot translator bots are required for the story to continue. Do not attack the YuBots.”

Uneasily, the group ceased attacking and several of the YuBots began work to close the water mirrors. But even more of them seemed drawn to the group, pressing closer and causing all but Elaro, Grisia, and Dark Sun to grow more and more out of focus…

Grisia yelled, “Elaro! Use the author’s room!”

With no hesitation, Elaro opened the system inventory and pulled out what looked like a small room to a dollhouse. It vanished and an ordinary-looking doorway appeared next to Elaro. Elaro dragged Jiang Ziya and Grisia into the room while Dark Sun, Jiang Shuyu, and Charles dashed inside.

For a moment, it was quiet but for the sound of everyone trying to catch their breath.

Then, “Will, what were those YuBots?”

The Legend of Sun Knight Side Story #20: Blueberry Coffee (April Fool’s)

posted in: Blog | 9

“Ecilan, how’s it going? What are you up to and what is this that you’re drinking?” Grisia sauntered into the Ice Knight’s room, nose tilted, sniffing the fragrant aromas of coffee in the air.

“Storm is currently sick after working six days straight dealing with the paperwork caused by that last stunt you pulled at the Kingdom of Forgotten Sound! I’m helping him out with these documents while he — hey don’t drink that!” Ecilan’s complaints suddenly turned to panicked shrieks as Grisia reached out for the coffee mug next to him and took a sip but quickly spit it all out in disgust. “Sigh, that’s why I told you not to drink it, you sweet-toothed freak! That stuff is coffee, it’s what I drink to have enough energy to keep burning the midnight oil. Speaking of which, can you help me with some of these documents, Grisia?”

Backing away, Grisia quickly thought about how to weasel out of this predicament. “W-well, I’d love to help, but I would need some of that coffee stuff you’ve been drinking as well so I can power through the night dealing with all this paperwork. And you know me and my obsession with blueberries and sweet things, there’s no way I can drink that strong bitter stuff!”

Ecilan fell deep in thought, recalling the coffees on offer at the cute little pastry shop he passed by earlier that day. A smile crept up on his face. “I have just the thing for you…!”

Description from Pastry Recipes: This is not a pastry per se, but nothing goes better with our scrumptious pastries than a delicious cup of coffee. This month, we are offering a unique and unforgettable filtered brew with notes of blueberry, blackcurrant, and red grape. If you aren’t able to visit us at Pastry Recipes, try to find a local specialty cafe that offers other unique coffees instead of going to S*@%bucks, and you may be pleasantly surprised!

Ingredients / Equipment

  • A bag of fresh whole bean coffee, with blueberry notes if desired1
  • Kettle for boiling water, ideally gooseneck shaped2
  • Coffee Grinder, ideally with burrs and not blades3
  • Scale capable of measuring to 0.1 grams4
  • Coffee Pourover Dripper5
  • Coffee Filter Paper6
  • Mug or cup

Recipe Instructions

Editor’s note: There’s many ways to brew an excellent cup of coffee. This is just how we do it at Pastry Recipes! You may need to adapt this recipe to fit your own setup and your own coffee.

  1. Measure out 18 grams of whole bean coffee and put it in your grinder. You can use more or less, but the dose would affect how the coffee behaves in a pourover, so you may need to make additional adjustments besides just scaling the amount of water accordingly.
  2. Heat up water in your kettle to boiling point.
  3. Fold the filter paper along the crease, then unfold and place the filter paper in your dripper and place the whole setup on your cup, resting on your scale.
  4. Once boiled, pour at least 50 grams of water to wet the filter paper in your dripper and warm your setup. Allow water to drain and discard.
  5. Grind your coffee beans into a medium-fine grind. It should be roughly between the texture of coarse sand and sea salt. Pour coffee grinds into your dripper.
  6. With your finger or a chopstick, gently poke a large hole in the center of your coffee grounds, and 5 or 6 smaller holes around the sides.
Folding the filter paper along the crease at a slight angle such that a bit more of the paper is folded near the rim. This should help your filter paper fit more snugly in the dripper.
Wetting your filter paper with at least 50 grams of boiling water helps it stick on the dripper and heats up your dripper and cup so that your coffee stays at a consistently high temperature throughout the brewing process.
Making several indents in the coffee grounds gives your coffee a larger surface area to be wet evenly in the next step.
  1. Let your coffee cool down slightly to ~95°C, or about 30 seconds with the lid off the kettle. The optimal temperature for each coffee will vary. Generally lighter roast coffees are best from 93-99°C while dark roast coffees taste better from 86-90°C. Tare (zero out) your scale, start a timer and immediately pour about 40 grams of water into the bed of coffee, making sure to wet and cover the grounds with water evenly.
  2. Gently swirl the entire dripper setup three revolutions to help all of the coffee get wet evenly. Wait 40 seconds for the coffee to settle. If your beans are fresh, you should see little bubbles forming and popping from your coffee.
  3. Pour another 125 grams of water into the coffee bed in steady, even circles. Aim to complete this pour in about 20 seconds, around the 1 minute mark. Gently swirl the coffee again, making two rotations to help the coffee settle and any grounds stuck to the sides to fall. Wait for the water to drain partway through, but before it’s completely dry before starting the final pour, roughly 10 to 15 seconds depending on the paper and grind size.
  4. Pour the remaining 125 grams of water into the dripper in gentle circles, this time even slower, aiming to finish pouring in all the water around 30-40 seconds, or around the 2:15 – 2:30 minute mark. Feel free to use more or less water depending on your preferences and to taste.
  5. Give your setup a final gentle swirl to allow the grounds to settle evenly and let the water finish flowing through the coffee bed. This should complete around a total time of 2:45 – 3:15. If it falls outside of this range and you are not satisfied with the taste of the coffee, consider adjusting the grind size – finer to make it slower or coarser to make it faster.
  6. Set aside the dripper and enjoy your coffee! Generally, it’s best to wait about 5-10 minutes or so for your coffee to cool to around 60-65°C for the most enjoyable cup.
Swirling your dripper gently after each pour ensures that your coffee grounds are well-settled. Each subsequent swirl should be more gentle than the last. This is the first swirl.
After the initial pour (called the “bloom”), some amount of bubbles should form from the coffee bed. This indicates the presence of carbon dioxide and is a sign that your coffee is very fresh.
Try to pour at a consistent height, as high as possible but just below the point where the flow of water beings to splash. Pour in circles to cover the coffee grounds evenly. Always pour into the coffee grounds rather than directly on the filter paper.
Once the brew has completed, you should end up with a relatively flat coffee bed with few grounds stuck to the sides. This is an indication that you were able to extract most of the coffee relatively evenly.
 
Your coffee may taste different at various temperatures. Most coffees taste best around 60-65°C, but great coffees will exhibit evolving but ever-pleasant tasting notes as it cools down.

A good cup of a modern light roast coffee should have a delicate, floral, fruity, winey or tea-like fragrance, a pleasant juicy acidity like a citrus fruit, a sense of mild sweetness without needing to add sugar or milk, and a lingering aftertaste that leaves you wanting another sip. For those who haven’t tried it before, it may feel closer to drinking fruit juice or black tea than a cup of coffee. When roasted and brewed correctly, There should be very little to no notes of bitterness / burntness or vegetality / harsh sourness. If experiencing the former, try using lower temperature water and/or less water overall, with small adjustments each time. If experiencing the latter, try higher temperature water and/or pouring a bit more water for the same amount of coffee. Light roasts are generally the most demanding in terms of gear and technique, so be patient when “dialing in” your coffee – hopefully you’ll find the sweet spot after a few attempts that makes the effort worth it.

A medium roast coffee should have primarily notes of nuts and milk chocolate, with perhaps still a hint of florals or fruits. It may be somewhat more bitter and taste closer to what one may traditionally associate with coffee. If you regularly drink and enjoy regular coffee, a medium roast may be a more approachable and less demanding start if the description of a light roast doesn’t sound appealing to you.

Good specialty-grade dark roast coffee is hard to find these days, just as high end may object to serving a steak well-done. Nevertheless, dark roast coffee still appeals to a considerable populace that also demands a quality product, so a select few roasters still cater to this market. Expect to find notes of dark chocolate, spices, smokiness, noticeable bitterness and very little acidity.

Footnotes

1. If you can, find a local speciality coffee roaster who can recommend a coffee you like. If you specifically want a coffee with blueberry notes, you can consider for example, this one from Vibrant Coffee Roasters or this one from Passenger Coffee, or even this more affordable alternative from Happy Mug. Feel free to make or request recommendations for good coffee roasters (esp. if you aren’t in the United States) in the comments below. There’s many different quality coffees out there, some with floral notes, fruity notes, nutty and chocolatey notes to suit a wide variety of tastes and preferences. Be sure to get a bag that was roasted within one month of purchase, as stale coffee would lose much of its best flavors and aromas.

2. Ideally, you’d want a kettle that lets you pour a controlled amount of water with a temperature gauge, which looks something like this product. If that is out of your budget, consider a model without the temperature control and use a separate thermometer to check its temperature as it cools down from boiling. You can try to make do with a regular kettle, but it would be difficult to control your pouring flowrate.

3. While you can buy pre-ground beans, you would lose the ability to change your grind size, and you would be losing out on the best flavors and aromas of the coffee, which tend to be released within a few hours of grinding the beans. If budget is a concern, consider using a manual coffee grinder. For example, this model or this model should give you great grind consistency at the entry-level, and it would be difficult to find a cheaper option without compromising significantly on quality. I would highly recommend to avoid using any sort of blade grinder for your coffee as you would likely end up with pieces of coffee that are either too large or too small, which will make your brews taste both sour and bitter, as compared to a good grinder that would let you make a sweet, balanced cup of coffee.

4. There’s lots of scales that can do the job. They typically look something like this, with a button for taring (zeroing out) the scale, and another for setting a timer. If yours doesn’t come with a timer, you can use the built-in one from your phone or similar.

5. There’s a couple of good drippers on the market. The classic one that is cheap and works well is the v60. The one shown in the photos above is the Origami dripper.

6. Make sure to get filter paper that fits your dripper. For the v60 and Origami, you would want ones that are cone-shaped, for example this one which I personally prefer.

Dominion’s End V6C1: The God of Many Eyes (April Fool’s)

posted in: Blog | 15

“Xiao Yu!”

As I came back to the base, Auntie came running over in a panic. Before, sprinting this fast would have left her out of breath. But with the crystals making her and Uncle grow younger and younger, she was hardly breathing harder than usual by the time she reached me.

“I can feel something very, very large behind the base, deep underground. Just yesterday it was so small, I thought it was a wild rabbit in its burrow. But after all the typhoons, it’s become massive! And it has yet to stop growing…”

What a pain. I was expecting aberrants to fall from the sky, not come from underground! I asked Auntie, “Can you sense where it is now?”

She shuddered, but still nodded as she said, “I can… It hasn’t moved from the garden. It hasn’t stopped watching us since I noticed it. I think… It sees more than I can.”

I started giving orders, “Tell Zheng Xing to excavate it swiftly. Everyone else, assemble in the garden and prepare for battle!”

As everyone grabbed their gear, I charged into the garden to see… A giant brown, lumpy mass. Throughout its surface, eyes of all different sizes blinked and stared in various directions. Some eyes were in clusters, like clumps of bubbles.

A voice rang through my head.

I SEE ALL. NOTHING CAN ESCAPE MY SIGHT. PAST. FUTURE. PRESENT. THE LOVED ONES YOU HAVE LOST. THE LOVED ONES YOU HAVE YET TO MEET. FEED ME AND THIS KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE YOURS.

All eyes fixated on me, including the eyes of the other members of the Zhanjiang Garrison.

“What a lousy deal! I can already see the past and present and I’ll get to see the future soon enough!” I retorted back. “Everyone! Attack! Go for the eyes!” The eyes are usually the weakest point, right?

As expected, with so many weak points, the aberrant died very quickly. Shujun looked at its corpse with pity. “If it could see the future, then didn’t it know it was about to die?”

I began slicing open the corpse to pull out the evolution crystal, and found smooth, white flesh that leaked a milky juice. I realized, “It’s an aberrant potato! There are probably smaller seed potatoes still buried in the dirt! Dig them out before they grow back.”

As everyone dug frantically, aided by Auntie pointing out where the potatoes were and Zheng Xing moving the earth the get the deeper potatoes, Shujun began walking around with a basket for everyone to drop the potatoes into.

Several baskets later, she happily said, “We have so many potatoes, I can make mashed potatoes, potato chips, hash browns, blanched matchstick potatoes, French fries, potato curry, latkes, potato bread, cholera, rosti, potato farls, Spanish tortilla, potato ice cream, potato salad, potato pie, baked potatoes, leek and potato soup, aloo gobi, potato casserole, potato fritters, fish and chips, tater tots, papet vaudois, vinegar potatoes, gnocchi, shepherd’s pie, roasted potatoes, potato dip, hurricane potatoes, potato skins, ratatouille, potato pancakes, hassleback potatoes, colcannon, scalloped potatoes, Korean potato pizza, funeral potatoes, boxty, poutine, twice-baked potatoes, three earthly treasures, potato knishes, pierogis, nikujaga, aligot, potato burgers, steamed potatoes, aloo masala, and we can also use them to practice throwing grenades!”


After several days of eating potatoes…

I picked up a potato croquette that was as round as my waistline and wailed, “I think I’m starting to turn potato-shaped!”

Potato-shaped potato croquette potato potato recipe

patoto
  1. Get a lot of panko breadcrumbs (does not have to be made with potato) and put them on a pan on a hot stove with a sploosh of oil. I’ve never tried this, but I bet you could use crushed up potato chips instead.
  2. Stir the breadcrumbs until they’re brownish and toasty. Add some pepper and salt here or back in step 1. Just do it at some point so it won’t be super bland.
  3. Cook some ground meat or something you can pretend is ground meat in a pan until it’s brown.
  4. Mix in your leftover mashed potatoes with the ground meat. If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, then:
    -1. Boil a bunch of potatoes or steam them or sous vide them or microwave them until you can squish the potato pieces with a fork or potato-masher tool.
    0. Mash the potatoes until they’re a tolerable level of lumpiness. Add in stuff like salt and pepper and herbs and garlic powder if you don’t like bland potatoes.
  5. Make the mashed potato and meat mixture back into a potato shape.
  6. Coat the potato-meat-potato in flour.
  7. Coat the potato-meat-potato in a beaten egg. Or if you’re too much of a wimp to beat an egg in a fight, you can use a flour-water batter instead.
  8. Coat the potato-meat-potato in the brownish-but-hopefully-not-as-toasty-hot-so-you-don’t-burn-yourself breadcrumbs.
  9. Air fry the potato-meat-potatoes (called “croquettes” from here on after) for 10 minutes (600 seconds) at 400F (200 C).

    Longer, less succinct recipe here:
    https://www.justonecookbook.com/baked-croquette/

½ Prince Side Stories Part 3: Meat Floss Bun (April Fool’s)

posted in: Blog | 2

Meat floss buns
Meat floss buns
One a penny
Two a penny
Meat floss buns

Give them to your daughters
Give them to your sons
One a penny
Two a penny
Meat floss buns!

A long-haired man at the hawker stall sang those verses with a surprisingly clear and sonorous voice that pierced through the cheerful banter of the tourists donning colorful apparel as they milled about. His booth was but one of many, each offering their own unique appeal, whether it be appetizing foodstuffs, minigames with cute prizes, or engaging performances for all ages. This was Infinite City’s first annual festival celebrating its inception and Odd Squad had spared no expense or effort to make it the most extravagant event in the world of Second Life. While the rest of the squad was busy making sure the festivities were running smoothly and that the city was still safe from any hidden threats, one member was conspicuously absent from their duties…

Prince, donning a pair of oversized sunglasses and a totally-not-suspicious cowboy hat wandered cheerfully from stall to stall. “So many snacks, delicious morsels from every cuisine all around! Which one should I try next?” muttered the incognito leader turned runaway eater. At that moment, a peculiar stall-owner’s melodic song wafted into Prince’s ears, which subconsciously prickled at the words “meat” and “bun”. Like a rat to a piper’s tune, his feet carried him naturally to a fancy red booth.

“Meat floss buns! Soft and sweet buns, light yet savory strands of pork, a marriage of flavors blessed by the heavens! How many pieces would you like, mister?” The shopkeeper asked cheerfully, his face obscured by long strands of golden-brown locks. Prince paid the stall owner’s appearance with little mind, and instead stared with mouth half-open at the this unusual variety of meat buns. The buns were twisted around like braids of hair, with fluffy pork floss, chopped scallions, and white sesame sprinkled across. Is this still considered a meat bun? As the “mama” to my dear meatbun, it wouldn’t be considered child abuse for me to eat this, right?

“Where did that rapscallion Prince run off to? His shift still hasn’t ended yet! If he’s shirking his duty as the gatekeeper for the vendors to satisfy his stomach then he’ll be getting an earful from me soon enough!” Yulian-dàsăo’s angry voice was still distant, but gradually got louder along with a pattering of footsteps. Pressed by time and too tempted by the innovative snack in front of him to reconsider, Prince held up two fingers, making a quick transaction before disappearing into the crowd, away from the impending danger of a fiery lecture. Moments later, Yulian-dàsăo approached the spot where the meat floss bun stall once stood, but nothing was there. She rubbed her eyes, wondering if her eyes were playing tricks on her. She could have shown she had saw Prince talking to a life-sized… No, that couldn’t be, could it?

That night, Prince tossed and turned in his sleep. The pleasant aromas of the two meat floss buns still lingered fresh in his mind. Out of nowhere, a familiar deep voice suddenly sounded out. “Thank you for accepting my dowry. On which auspicious date should we set the wedding?”

Prince shook himself wide awake, but there was nobody around. What was going on? Wasn’t that the sound of the shopkeeper at the festival? How could he be in my bedchambers right now?

“How about March 1st? That’s National Pi–” the voice continued but Prince couldn’t help but interrupt.

“Who are you? Where are you? What do you want from me?”

“You don’t remember? I’m your future son-in-law! You agreed earlier to give me your daughter’s hand in marriage and even accepted my dowry! Is my proposed date too soon? Would one month later work out better you think?” Out of nowhere, the shopkeeper appeared with a poof, but this time his long curly hair was combed neatly to the sides and his face was revealed to be that of a… pig??

The words of the shopkeeper from earlier echoed back in Prince’s mind. Soft and sweet buns… strands of pork… a marriage blessed by the heavens… Oh! What have I done? I’m so sorry, meatbun! I’m so sorry, Phoenix! Finally hit by the gravity of the situation and the consequences of his rash actions, Prince immediately fainted.

The light of the morning sun shone warmly into Prince’s bedchambers, and groggily he woke up. What a crazy dream that was! At that moment, two little voices, clear and sonorous, cried out, “Grandmama, you’re awake! We brought you breakfast in bed! It’s your favorite meat floss buns1!”

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (160 ml, at room temperature)
  • 1 cup milk (235 ml, at room temperature)
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (70g)
  • 1/2 cup cake flour (70g)
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour (500g)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (11g)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces pork sung (also called pork floss, 115g)
  • 3 scallions (washed, dried, and finely chopped)
  • Egg wash (whisk together 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water to make a simple syrup)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a mixer, add the heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt (add everything to the mixer in that order). Using the dough hook attachment, turn on the mixer to “stir.” Let it go for 15 minutes, occasionally stopping the mixer to push the dough together.
  2. After 15 minutes, the dough is ready for proofing. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place in a warm spot for 1 hour. The dough will grow to 1.5X its original size. Check out our original milk bread recipe for photos of this process!
  3. After the hour of proofing, put the dough back in the mixer and stir for another 5 minutes to get rid of air bubbles. Dump the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 12 equal pieces. Cover the dough pieces with a dry cloth while assembling the buns.
  4. Take each piece of dough and roll it out into a rough 4×6″ rectangle. Spread a very thin layer of mayonnaise onto the dough, and then sprinkle with pork sung and chopped scallion. Roll it up lengthwise into a tight cigar shape. Cut the cigar in half lengthwise, with about an inch on one end still attached, so that the piece of dough almost looks like a pair of pants. Twist the dough together, with the cut sides facing up, and tuck the ends underneath the bun. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat the process until all the buns are assembled.
  5. Cover the buns with a clean, dry kitchen towel, and allow to rise for another hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Before baking, brush each bun with egg wash. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes, until golden brown. After baking, remove the buns from the oven and immediately brush each bun lightly with simple syrup. This is what gives these pork sung buns their signature shine!

Footnotes

1. Recipe courtesy of https://thewoksoflife.com/pork-sung-buns/