Ambrosial Delicacies: Cuisine of Shenkuu
The dishes of the quiet village of Shenkuu are usually overlooked amidst the prominent restaurants of lands such as Neopia Central and Faerieland. However, those who miss out on these fine foods are honestly losing something special which is only to be found here.
The cuisine of Shenkuu blends simplicity with unmatched culinary grace. Its plates are always artfully arranged with much care and respect given to its connoisseurs -- indeed, the artisans of the village take no haste in preparing their foods as each dish is of special importance to the chef. (Take Chef Bonju, for example. He certainly took his time!)
So, when you are next considering visiting the exotic land of Shenkuu, do not neglect taking a more active part of the Lunar Festival by grabbing a bite or two. It is our hope that this small dossier will provide you with insight in regard to the vast variety of savory foods that await you in these beautiful mountaintops and deep valleys.
Shenkuu Soba Noodles
These delicious shin-soba noodles are an expensive dish signature of Shenkuu. The very box they are served upon is considered to be one of the finest crafted by the residents of this exotic land. The box is made of a smooth yet strong metal which has been painted a sea-blue green and later touched gold with the most precise of Shenkuun paint brushes. Two thin wooden chopsticks are included as polished and refined utensils to assist you in your culinary journey. The noodles themselves are nothing short of delectable products of the artisans; they are sweet, yet mouth-wateringly flavourful, and are also very delicate. A pile of dried seaweed fresh from Maraqua sits neatly atop the dish.
Shenkuu is held in high esteem for its exquisite cuisine, but at the very pinnacle of their pride lies their Steamed Fish. Culinary geniuses pour hours upon hours into patiently fishing for the finest fish to take centre stage on their plate. Once caught, the fish is promptly steamed to perfection. A light yet spicy custom-made sauce is gently drizzled upon the fish, adding hints of sweet-smelling food to the air. Various other ingredients -- such as crisp spring onion slices and aged ginger -- imbue the dish with spikes of savory appeal. Last but not least, vegetation found only in the tallest tree in the deepest valley of Shenkuu is sprinkled generously by the hands of artisans atop the fish to provide a fresh burst of flavour. The plate is served on the original steamer.
Steamed Vegetable Dumplings
Steamed Vegetable Dumplings are simply divine. The Shenkuuan recipe includes ingredients that looked over in many other Neopian lands. One example would be chestnuts, which are carefully sliced into small pieces and roasted lightly. The exterior of the dumpling is made out of a crispy and fresh head of lettuce that is just moist enough to provide for excellent texture.
This mochi was made in the traditional Shenkuun fashion by pounding rice and then molding it to form small spheres of delicious rice cakes. This gives the mochi a genuinely pure taste that cannot be achieved through other methods. The mochi is served on a pale green plate that allows the whiteness of the dish to show beautifully; the plate is then decorated with a small lily. The mochi can even be made into the wondrous confection daifukumochi upon special request prior to its plating.
Oozing Negg Buns
Shenkuu's Oozing Negg Buns are a specialty dessert of the village and are also considered to be a delicacy. Their recipe was passed down from generation to generation, remaining forever unchanged, yet always enjoyed by all who ventured to the small restaurant with the violet door. The three buns are presented in an aromatic basket of woven wood. The softest, most sweet-smelling dough encapsulates its delicious filling to form a dainty circular shape. Within the dough is the titular highlight of the dish: a light custard dessert sauce. A small and spicy sprig has been placed inside of the dough to complete the dessert with a zesty and altogether unexpected surge of flavour. The sprig is rumoured to be from one of Shenkuu's most restorative trees which endows whoever eats it with a present feeling of serenity. The dough and the sprig together represent the common shape of the Negg.
River Wave Breeze
Imagine yourself wave riding down a freshwater stream. Multi-coloured fish splash in the water beside you in vibrant shades of orange and blue as you pass by in a quick blitz. The wind rushes through your hair, small floes of water streaming at your side. Drinking a River Wave Breeze is an experience that can be akin to the one described above. You will find that it is much more than a simple cold drink: it seems to contain the very essence of the wind and the water! It is frosty and breezy at the same time and makes for the perfect summer drink.
This sweet delight is reserved only for those who can afford its rarity. Green tea is first cautiously brewed in an intricate procedure, and then cooled down while the ginseng is prepared. The ginseng is the centerpiece of this masterpiece. Thousand Year Ginsengs are purposely used for its unique texture and tangy flavor.
Negg Noodles. Doesn't the slight alliteration make you crave this delicious meal already? The noodles are handmade by the renowned masters of Shenkuu, finely kneaded and stretched into thin strings of equal length and width. Two chopsticks in a stylish shade of bold red are delicately placed within the bed of noodles, a fine compliment to the two neggs resting inside! The delicacy known as the Fish Negg is accompanied by a simple orange negg to produce outstanding flavour.
I would like to thank you for reading this article, and I assuredly wish that it was of use to you. I also hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. My thanks is also greatly partitioned to The Neopets Team for reviewing and publishing my piece. It's great fun writing for the Times -- probably more fun than it must be reviewing everything, I realize -- and I completely appreciate your hard work! I wish a grand issue #500 to all!