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Shanghai Cuisine

Shanghai cuisine, also known as Hu cuisine, is a popular style of Chinese cuisine. The city of Shanghai itself does not have a separate and unique cuisine of its own, but modifies those of the surrounding provinces, such as Jiangsu and Zhejiang. What can be called Shanghai cuisine is epitomised by the use of alcohol. Fish, crab, chicken are "drunken" with spirits and are briskly cooked/steamed or served raw. Salted meats and preserved vegetables are also commonly used to enhance the dish.

The use of sugar is common in Shanghai cuisine, especially when used in combination with soy sauce. 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" (tángcù xiǎopái). "Red cooking" is another popular style of stewing meats and vegetables.

"Beggar's chicken" (jiàohuā jī) is a dish of a southern origin, wrapped in lotus leaves and covered in clay. Though usually prepared in ovens, the original and historic preparation involved cooking in the ground. The lion's head (shīzǐtóu; pork meatballs in brown sauce) and Shanghai-style niangao are also unique to Shanghai, as are Shanghai fried noodles, a regional variant of chow mein that is made with Shanghai-style thick noodle. Lime-and-ginger-flavoured century egg (pídàn) and stinky tofu (chòu dòufǔ) are other popular Shanghai food items.

As Shanghai faces the East China Sea, seafood is very popular in the region. However, due to its location among the rivers, lakes, and canals of the Yangtze Delta, locals favour freshwater produce just as much as saltwater products like crabs, oysters, and seaweed. The most notable local delicacy is Shanghai hairy crab (Shanghai máoxiè).

A notable Shanghai delicacy is xiaolongbao (Shanghai dumplings). Xiaolongbao is a type of steamed bun that is filled with pork (most commonly found) or minced crab, and soup. Although it appears delicate, a good xiaolongbao is able to hold in the soup until it is bitten. They are steamed in bamboo baskets and served with black vinegar and in some places, shredded ginger. A common way of eating xiaolongbao is to bite the top off, suck all the soup, then dipping it in vinegar before eating.

The most well-known foods for breakfast are the "Four Heavenly Kings" (sìdà jīngāng), which include dabing (Chinese pancake), youtiao, ci fan tuan (steamed sticky rice ball) and soy milk. Among the "Four Heavenly Kings", ci fan tuan belongs to typical Shanghai food. Ci fan tuan is made of warm steamed sticky rice. Shanghainese people like putting sugar and youtiao inside steamed sticky rice. People also put salty duck egg yolk, rousong (crushed dried pork) or other stuffing in ci fan tuan.





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