Legendary recipe of a retired master drives the foodie crazy
Author / Yang Bo Photographer / Di Wenxiao Jia Lin
Introduction: he focused on cooking Guokui for more than 50 years. He completed the gorgeous change of Juntun Guokui from the armament food to the Sichuan snacks. He could have enjoyed his later years, but there are too many old customers want to eat his Guokui, and too many people want to be his apprentices. So he set a rule: the business will suspend for 5 months every year, the summer vacation and winter vacation.It is such an honor to have a taste of the masterpiece in his limited working hour. He is the top chef of Guokui in Junle town,Pengzhou city, a nearly seventy years old man, Zhou Lequan.
From the history of Juntun Guokui, It is, in fact, one of these snacks - Crisp Guokui. And this popular Crisp Guokui was created by Zhou Lequan and his master Ma Fucai.
Master Ma Fucai had gong for a lone time, and now Zhou Lequan becomes the only founder of Juntun Guokui, inheritance of the non-heritage skills, great master of Juntun Guokui. One day in early December, we rushed to Junle town, Pengzhou, to visit the master of Juntun Guokui.
small store with big fame hidden in downtown
In Junle, Pengzhou, the main street,Junle Avenue is reconstructed after the earthquake in 2008, supported by Fujian province. Going forward about 100 meters from the crossroads of Junle Avenue and Juntun East Road, A small store with sign painted in gold stands out among the residential houses in west Sichuan. However, the small store with a plaque carved with a few words, Zhou Lequan’s Guokui is the most magnificent palace of Juntun Guokui.
It was not difficult for us to find the store of Zhou Lequan. But we were surprised when we walked into Zhou Lequan’s store. There was only a 30 years old young man.Could he possible be the great master of Guokui? After asking ,we finally found out it was a mistake. He was a outsider studying cooking Guokui. Because the store was not open in the afternoon, so master Zhou Lequan was not there, and he was the only person practicing there.
With the apprentice’s help, Zhou Lequan came to the store wearing well-groomed uniform. He is taller than the peers with shiny black hair. Bare wrinkles are on his face.And he has a pair of eyes sparkling the light of unique wisdomof Sichuan men. If was not confirmed by himself, we simply could not believe that he was already 69 years old! It was such a sophisticated man brought us a legend of Guokui.
five months holiday, not hungry marketingbut heritage of delicious
The day we visited, was an ordinary day of Junle, Pengzhou. But it was a particularly busy day for the owner of Zhou Lequan’s Guokui. He got up at 5 o'clock in the morning, open the shop door at 7 o’clock followed by steps kneading, laying stuffing ... ... accompanied by a burst of "flop pop" sound and the curl smoke from the oven.The appetizing smell suddenly diffused the store. After he finishing working this month, the store would suspend again for the beginning of the winter vacation.
Zhou Lequan’s Guokui in front of us, was less than ten square meters. It is the first floor of a three-story street house. A pot, a stove and a panel are the source of the store business. Zhou Lequan wanted to enjoy his retirement who had been cooking Guokui for a lifetime. But there are too many customers want to eat his Guokui, and too many people want to be his apprentices. So, Zhou Lequan set a rule in his 60: on winter and summer vacation, he would suspend the business for 5 months, that is, June 1 to National Day in October. Having summer vacation for the hot weather and winter vacation for the Spring Festival.
Zhou Lequan has running the Guokui business for his life. Decades flied, around his store, there are nearly 30 Guokui stores scattering. From the "dough"economy to Guokui brand, Zhou Lequan has been in the inheritance of skills and delicacy.
Mentoring side by side with the master,he was the celebrity in 1960s
Speaking of delicacy inheritance of Zhou Lequan, we have to date back to the sixties of the last century. Zhou Lequan recalled that “I started to make Guokui in 1959 when I was only 12 years old, following my master Ma Fucai. Our store was run by the commune.Because the policy of the reason,there was only one Guokui store. At that time the business is very good, one Guokui sold two food stamps, 7 cents.We sold 300 per day. The wage was fine too. I had 20 yuan per month as a regular staff.”
For the heyday of Juntun Guokui, Zhou Lequan said peacefully: “In 1962, Peng County,former Pengzhou City, hold lanterns show. Master Ma Fucai and I was invited to make Guokui there and since then Guokui was popular with public.A wit wrote a report named Juntun Guokui, Fragrant Gone with the Wind published in Sichuan Daily and Chengdu Daily. My master and I then became Peng’s celebrities, and Juntun Guokui spurted into popularity within Sichuan.”References to the master Ma Fucai, Zhou Lequan became solemn, “Juntun Guokui’s founder should be my master.”Zhou Lequan was very seriousIn this regard“My master departed this life at the age of 58 in 1978.We only did the heritage.”
Although it was a common talk, when recalling this past, Zhou Lequan is full of pride with sense of accomplishment. His demeanor was completely like today's web celebrities. Unfortunately, at the time, Zhou Lequandid not get any material benefits because of the fame as today’s web celebrities had. He did not get much richer ingredients he wanted to support Guokui’s further development because of the popularity of Juntun Guokui.
Master’s charm is always reform and innovation
Zhou Lequan had wonderful life in the planned economy era. He was finally promoted to the sales manager with high salary, 38 yuan monthly. I started to wonder that when the planned economy era suddenly ended, how did Zhou Lequan adapt to change, and carry the Guokui bussiness forward ?
“In 1980s, after the reform and opening, the collective business was stopped. Individual business was allowed. I started my business in 1982 . The original store had two pavements. The junior fellow apprentice and I contracted each of them.Then he quit.The one I contracted is now under our feet ."Zhou Lequan said.
“My own business was good as well. The income was many times as large as before.But with people's living standards improved, costumers’ pursuit of the taste also improved, and the original Guokui could not keep the customers anymore. So I changed the recipe. I added Pork into the Guokui. The first pork Guokui was I made. “ The invention of Pork Guokui sounded easy from Zhou Lequan, but its meaning to Junle Guokui was absolutely not that simple. If you doubt about that, you can go to any Juntun Guokui store. If they are not selling pork Guokui, that is, the beef Guokui, the evolution of pork Guokui.
What are the differences between Junle’s Guokui and the other places’ ? On this issue, Zhou Lequan’s standard answer is: “Evey Junle’s Guokui abandoned the white Guokui, only had two varieties of pork and beef. While others still made the white Guokui without new products with pork and beef.
Zhou Lequan is the key man who made the differences. In order to welcome the distant guests, Zhou Lequan broke his rule and made a Guokui for us to try. Now Zhou Lequan has completely put the Guokui as an artwork.
crisp and slag, delicious to death
Zhou Lequan selected high quality flour to make Juntun Guokui, mixing with some warm water repeatedly, making it moderate in hardness, flexible in tension. In winter, when it comes to the flour and the water mixture, Zhou Lequan specifically stressed that the temperature of flour and water depending on the air temperature.The water temperature is inversely proportional to the air temperature.
And Zhou master’s ingredients recipe is also unique using the leavened flour and raw flour flexibly. The amount of the leavened depends on the length of time after the raw flour was mixed. Adding more leaven flour when the raw flour mixed with longer time. And then using the pig's slime oil mixing with star anise, fennel, resurrection lily, pepper, ginger, salt, monosodium glutamate and other spices followed by chopping wipes on the elongated dough. After the forming process, the cake becomes a layered pastry.Putting on the meat, and rolling up to the cake-like, a Guokui with sufficient fillings comes to the world. The container of Zhou Lequan’s Guokui looks interesting. There is a pan on the stove for frying. Removing the pan, there is a special layer in the furnace used to bake. Firstly, fry both sides of Guokui until turning slightly golden, and then transfer it to the bottom of the furnace to bake.
Zhou Lequan stood before the pot, explained every steps of making Guokui:”The original JuntunGuokui is not fried, but decocted before baking.According to the large amount of customers,the traditional method was too slow, so the decocting was changed to direct frying in order to shorten the production time and improve efficiency. "The frying oil is the local soil rapeseed oil, clear and thick, making the fried Guokui perfectly golden with appetizing smell .
Breaking a freshly baked Guokui,looking at its beautiful layers and takingthe first bite, my mouth is filled with crispy and salty pastries, followed by tender and juicy meat, coupled withthe sesame seeds after frying and baking.It is the taste of childhood, the hometown. Nothing could withstand the ecstasy evoked by Guokui from tongue toheart. Only food can not be mistreated, not joking!
Transportation: about 1.5 hours by car or you can take bus at Chengdu Wukuaishi Bus Station to Pengzhou Passenger Center then take 110 bus to Junle town.