Shanghai Food

A thick and rich sauce is what defines Shanghai food. The sauce is made primarily from soy sauce, rice wine and sugar. The marriage of these flavors results in a savory taste that you’ll yearn for. Most would naturally think that the mixture would turn out sweet, but the rice wine and vinegar manage to neutralize the sauce’s sweet properties.

1. Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao (小笼包), also known as Shanghai soup dumplings, is filled with hot soup and pork, bamboo shoots, shelled shrimp, or crab meat, according to seasons. Traditionally 10 soup dumplings are steamed in one xiaolong, a kind of small bamboo steaming basket, hence the name. Xiao Long Bao is often served with black vinegar or shredded ginger.

Where to Get Xiaolongbao?

  • Jia Jia Tang Bao (佳家汤包 ): 90 Huanghe Road, Shanghai
  • Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (南翔馒头店): 720 Nanjing East Road (near Guizhou Road), Shanghai

2. Smoked Fish

Shanghainese Smoked Fish Shanghainese Smoked Fish

Smoked Fish is must-eat Chinese New Year dish for locals. The main ingredient is grass carp, which is marinated with scallions, ginger, cooking wine and sugar for 2-3 hours. Boil 8 star anises, 8 bay leaves and 6g cinnamon in a wok with water for 15 minutes, when the spices are removed, add rock sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine and vinegar in the water and stew it into flavored sauce.

Next, fry the marinated grass carp in oil until it turns golden and then put it into the flavored sauce and soak for 2 minutes. Here comes the Shanghainese smoked fish!

Where to Get Smoked Fish in Shanghai?

  • Shanghai Classical Restaurant (上海老饭店 ): 242 Fuyou Road (near Yu Garden), Shanghai
  • Lao Zheng Xing Restaurant (老正兴菜馆 ): 556 Fuzhou Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai

3. Sheng Jian Bao

Shen Jian Bao Shen Jian Bao

Shen Jian Bao (生煎包), literally pan-fried dumplings, is a traditional Shanghainese food that originated in the 1920s. Topped with sesame and scallions, it looks golden, and has a crunchy bottom, and juicy stuffing. Locals prefer to eat Shengjian accompanied by a bowl of hot beef noodle soup taken from the pan. The fillings of Shengjian include minced pork, shrimp, beef and chicken.

Where to Get Sheng Jian Bao?

  • Da Hu Chun (大壶春): 136 Sichuan Middle Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai
  • Yang’s Dumpling (小杨生煎): 97 Huanghe Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai

4. Braised Pork Belly

Hong Shao Rou Braised Pork Belly, or Hong Shao Rou

Braised Pork Belly, or Hong Shao Rou (红烧肉), is a popular Chinese dish. Using fat and lean pork belly as main ingredients, it takes at least 90 minutes to stew the meat. The delicacy looks red and tastes salty, very fluffy, and soft. Shanghai people prefer sweet flavors, so the seasonings of Shanghai-style Braised Pork Belly feature caramel sugar and red sauce.

Braised Pork Belly is also called Dongpo Pork. Legend has it that a prestigious Chinese poet in the 11th century, Su Dongpo, came up with a new way to cook pork, which made the meat tasty and fragrant. The popularity new dish was quickly spread and became famous throughout the country.

Where to Get Shanghainese Braised Pork Belly?

  • Shanghai Grandmother (上海姥姥): 70 Fuzhou Road (close to the Bund), Shanghai
  • HOME'S Shanghainese Restaurant (Home’s私房菜): 791 Julu Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai

5. Hairy Crab

Hairy Crab Hairy Crab

Hairy crab, or Chinese Mitten Crab, is widely used in Shanghai cuisine, especially in September and October when the crabs are of their best quality. Chinese traditional medicine believes that the meat from the female crab roe has a “yin” or cooling effect to human body, so it iswould be better to steam the hairy crab with fresh ginger and yellow rice wine to dispel coldness and remove the fishy smell of crabs.

Where to Get Steamed Hairy Crab in Shanghai?

  • Wang Bao He Restaurant (王宝和酒家): 603 Fuzhou Road, Huangpu Dustrict, Shanghai
  • Cejerdary (蟹家大院): 59 Guangdong Road (near the Bund No.3), Shanghai

6. Shanghai Breakfast

Doujiang and Youtiao Doujiang and Youtiao

Shanghainese breakfast is characterized by four iconic foods:

  • Dou Jiang (豆浆): Soybean milk, a beverage made by soaking and grinding soybeans, and then boiling the mixture with sugar or salt after filtering.
  • You Tiao (油条): A Ddeep fried dough stick, as known as like a Chinese cruller, Chinese donut, or Chinese oil stick
  • Ci Fan Tuan (粢饭团): Sticky rice rolled around sugar, sesame,  meat floss, and wrapped in dough, and fried.fried dough stick.
  • Da Bing (大饼): Chinese pancake made of flour, yeast, water, salt and scallion oil.

Where to Get Shanghainese Breakfast?

Shanghai’s “Four Icon Breakfast Foods (四大金刚)” can be found at any stalls around old neighborhoods like Tilanqiao (提篮桥). They are local, cheap and easy to get to, presenting the mostan authentic glimpse of Shanghai life.

7. Scallion Oil Noodles

Scallion Oil Noodles Scallion Oil Noodles

Scallion Oil Noodles, Congyou Banmian (葱油拌面), is many locals’ favorite staple food. Fry the scallions in hot lard until discoloredtranslucent, then stew the scallion oil with soy sauce and sugar to form a heavy saucepansauce; mix the cooked noodles with the sauce and finally top the dish with some chopped green scallions – here comesthus you have the flavorful Shanghainese Scallion Oil Noodles.

Where to Get Scallion Oil Noodles?

  • Longtang Xiaohuntun (弄堂小馄饨食府): 714 Weihai Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai
  • Lao Di Fang Noodles Restaurant (老地方面馆 ): 233 Xiangyang South Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai

8. Pork Ribs with Rice Cake

Pork Ribs with Rice Cake Pork Ribs with Rice Cake

Nian Gao, or Chinese New Year’s cake, is popular throughout China, but with various flavors in different regionsareas. The Shanghainese way is to stir-fry sliced Niangao with pork ribs in red sauce. The sauce is made by combining soy sauce, bean paste, rice wine, sugar and spices; including five-spice, black cardamom, fennel seeds, cassia, and star anise. The delicacy tastes a little sticky, and a bit sweet and spicy.

Where to Get Shanghai-Style Niangao?

  • Xian De Lai (鲜得来排骨年糕): 46 Yunnan South Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai
  • Lao Shanghai (老上海排骨年糕): 311 Xiangyang South Road, Shanghai

9. Sautéed Shelled Shrimp

Sautéed Shelled Shrimp Sautéed Shelled Shrimp, or Crystal Shrimp

Sautéed Shelled Shrimp, or Crystal Shrimp, originated from Guangdong Cuisine, and was once rated as “Shanghai’s top 1 traditional cuisine”. The main ingredients are shelled shrimps and eggs with very simple seasonings., so tThe shrimp meat is crystal bright, soft and crunchy, with a fragrant smell.

Where to Get Local Crystal Shrimp?

  • Shanghai Classical Restaurant (上海老饭店 ): 242 Fuyou Road (near Yu Garden), Shanghai
  • Grandma’s Home (外婆家): 168 Shangnan Road, close to Shanghai World Expo Exhibiyion and Convention Center

10. Shanghai Snacks

Scallion Oil Pancake Scallion Oil Pancake, or Congyou Bing

Every city has its own special snacks, while in Shanghai, there are 3 street foods you shouldn’t never miss:

  • Crab-Yellow Pastry, Xie Ke Huang (蟹壳黄), is a crispy pastry filled with sweet or salty stuffing, which gets its name because it looks like crab shell in both shape and color.
  • Sticky Rice Balls, Gaotuan (糕团), are made of sticky rice flour and filled of sweet ingredients like red bean paste and brown sugar. They are adored by Shanghainese because of their soft flavors and lucky meaning- “continuous promotions at every step”.
  • Scallion Oil Pancake, Congyou Bing (葱油饼), is simply made by frying a flat cake of 1cm-thin batter on both sides with scallion and oil on a stove. It tastes salty and smells really good.

Where to Get Street Foods in Shanghai?

1) Shouning Rd Food Street (寿宁路美食街): Shouning Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai

2) Yunnan S Rd Food Street (云南南路小吃街): Yuanan South Road (near People’s Square), Shanghai

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