does not have a definitive cuisine of its own, but refines those of the
surrounding provinces (mostly from adjacent Jiangsuu and Zhejiangg coastal
provinces). What can be called Shanghai
cuisine is epitomized by the use of alcohol. Fish, eel, crab, and chicken are
“drunken” with spirits and usually served raw. Salted meatss and
preserved vegetables are also commonly used to spice up the dish.
The use of sugar is common in Shanghainese cuisine and, especially when used
in combination with soy sauce, effuses foods and sauces with a taste that is
not so much sweet but rather savory. Non-natives tend to have difficulty
identifying this usage of sugar and are often surprised when told of the
“secret ingredient.” The most notable dish of this type of cooking is
“sweet and sour spare ribs” (“tangcu xiaopai” in
Shanghainese). They also use lots of oil in Shanghai dishs.
“Red cooking” is a popular style of stewing meats and vegetables
associated with Shanghai.
“Beggar’s Chicken” (“jiaohu ji” in Shanghainese) is a
legendary dish wrapped in lotus leaves, covered in clay and oven baked to
steamy, tasty perfection – in olden times, it was baked in the ground.
Lime-and-ginger-flavoured “1,000-year-old” eggs are another popular
Shanghainese creation. The braised meat ball and the Stinky Tofu are also
uniquely Shanghainese. Stinky Tofu would
be the Chinese cheese.
Facing the East China Sea, seafood in Shanghai
is very popular. Locals though favor freshwater fish just as much as saltwater
products like crabs, oysters, and seaweed. The most famous local delicacy is Shanghai hairy crab. They are called hairy crabs because they have
lots of hair on the front claws. The
crabs are fresh water crabs.
Shanghainese people are known to eat very little (which makes them a target
of mockery from other Chinese), and hence the servings are usually quite small.
A famous snack in Shanghai, in Mandarin: Xiao
Long Baoo (literally: “small steamer buns;” in the local Shanghainesee
dialect: “sho lonpotsi” or “sho lonmeudou”) cooked in a
small bamboo steamer, is now popularized throughout China as a Dim Sum. Xiao Long
Bao, sometimes referred to as a soup dumpling, is a small meat-filled
steamed bun unique because it contains soup stock, adding a sensual, surprising
effect when eaten.
Due to the rapid growth of Shanghai and its
development into one of the foremost East Asian cities as a center of both
finance and contemporary culture, the future of Shanghai cuisine looks very promising.
Unlike Cantonese or Mandarin cuisine, Shanghainese restaurant menus will
sometimes have a dessert slection.
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