Shanghai, being a relatively new city in China, does not really
have a cuisine of its own, but successfully refines all the work of the
surrounding provinces such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Through years of culinary
practice and the assimilation of the art in other styles of cuisine, Shanghai
chefs have also created a style of cuisine peculiar to the region. Shanghai
dishes are usually characterized by the use of heavy and highly flavored
The use of sugar is another uniquness found in Shanghainese cuisine and,
especially when used proportiaonally with soy sauce, the taste created
is not so much sweet but rather savory. My chef friend told me that this
is mainly due to the fact that sugar neutralized the sourness found in
soy source. Household in Shanghai would consume as much soy source as
sugar. Visitors are often surprised when the "secret ingredient"
was revealed by local Shanghainese.
Some tasty Shanghai Food:
Xiao Long Bao (Little Dragon
The little dragon bun is one of my favourite dish. Unlike the buns
in northern China, these buns are very small and easy to swallow.
The buns are usually steamed in containers made of banboo. The skin
of the buns are very thin and the bun is very juicy. The dish is now
popularized and consumed widely throughout China as a Dim Sum.
Chou Dou Fu (Smelly Tofu):
When first smelled, one would naturally hold their nose, not to mention
give it a try and swallow a piece. The smelly tofu is a popular local
food mainly found on Shanghai streets. The tofu is fermanted with
many ingredients before fried. Old ladies usually serve them on their
liltte trolley. Dispite their odour, most foreigners love it after
tasting it. It is dirt cheap too!
Zha Xie (Hairy Crab):
Da Zha Xie is a special type of crab found in rivers, and is normally
consumed in the winter. The crabs are tied with ropes or strings,
placed in bamboo containers, steamed and served. There is little artificial
ingredient added to the dish yet it tastes fantastically good. Da
Zha Xie is usually consumed with vinegar. Locals are also quite fussy
about when to consume male crabs and when to consume female crabs.
Pi Dan (Preserved Eggs):
Preserved duck eggs are a traditional Shanghainese delicacy, and although
known as "1000-year-old eggs" they are rarely more than
100 days old. It is done using a traditional method. Pidan is now
very common in China, and is sometimes consumed with congee.