China Connection Tours, a reputable China tour operator & travel agency from 1987
Shanghai has always been a cosmopolitan and sophisticated city. The rich Yangtze Delta is a natural garden for Chinese vegetables as well as French beans, peas, cabbage, and a range of fruits.
Shanghai cuisine is rich, oily, sweet and luscious. Sumptuous, velvety meat or fish dishes braised with soy sauce, sugar and a touch of vinegar are a specialty. Shaoxing wine, which tastes like sherry, is fermented from glutinous rice, and used extensively in cooking and drunk warm. The Shanghainese repertoire includes a number of “drunken dishes,” where food is marinated in Shaoxing wine.
A Shanghainese meal will usually start with a selection of cold appetizers. At banquets these will appear in elaborate presentations. You might come across 'mock goose', which is a sheet of bean curd rolled and braised to resemble goose meat. Drunken chicken or duck's tongues will usually be included. Jellyfish, shredded and tossed in a little sesame oil, as well as various pressed meats and spiced smoked fish will be served.
Garlic eels are a favorite, as are crunchy tiny freshwater shrimps that may be stir-fried or flavored with tea. Freshwater fish and whole carp, fried or steamed, garnished with a sweet and sour sauce is popular. In autumn, freshwater Shanghai crabs, also called hairy crabs, are a greatly enjoyed delicacy.
Beggar's chicken is made by wrapping the fowl in lotus leaves, coating the package with mud and baking it. This results in a tender, lightly flavored chicken. Another local concoction is 'Lion Head' meatballs with cabbage.
Shanghainese eat dumplings and noodles in addition to rice. You’ll want to try the local dumplings--fried, steamed or in soup, filled with meat and vegetables. They are a favorite snack. You can buy these, and deep-fried dough sticks, from street vendors, along with a glass of warm or chilled fresh soymilk. The city is also famous for traditional Chinese sweets like glutinous rice cakes and steamed buns.
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