Shanghai boasts 1,800 snack houses and stalls serving various sorts of refreshments. Taking breakfast foods by way of example, there is a total of some 300 kinds of dumplings and pastries including deep-fried twisted dough sticks, soy milk, glutinous-rice balls, fried cakes with green onions, noodles with topping, dumplings in soup, steamed buns, fried dumplings, glutinous-rice cakes and dumplings, sweet pasty soups. Shanghai snacks are dainty and exquisite in shape with unique feature. The eyebrow shortcake, date paste cake, shredded turnip cake, sweet osmanthus steamed cake are known for their color, flavor, fragrance and shape. They have captivated many diners. The steamed dumpling with meat filling is a typical Shanghai snack. You will find it in every corner of Shanghai, in big restaurants and little food stalls. It is called Chinese fast food. Below is a brief introduction to a few of them.
Chicken and Duck Blood Soup 鸡鸭血汤
Yes, you guessed it. This Shanghai favorite is soup (known as Jiya Xuetang) that contains solidified blood as its main ingredient. In fact, the blood rather resembles dark red tofu and has very little taste. The broth used is a very light or slightly salty clear chicken broth with some spring onion added for a nice flavor. All in all, this traditional Shanghai snack is quite tasty. Don't be scared. If you are not totally disgusted by the idea to begin with, you may like it. It is available in places like the Old City God's TempleLaochenghuangmiao and Yuyuan area.
This soup is said to be very healthy and good for you. The Chinese claim eating certain parts of animals strengthens the corresponding part on one's own body.
Niangao, or New Year cake, is a typical southern Chinese dish made with glutinous rice flour strips sliced into pieces and stir-fried with other ingredients. One especially popular way to prepare Niangao is to stir-fry it with pork spareribs. This Shanghainese dish is known as Paigu Niangao.
Vegetarian Stuffed Bun 素菜包
The vegetarian stuffed bun is the specialty of certain YuyuanGarden and Old City God's Temple area snack restaurants. The bun itself is a light white bread. It is stuffed with finely chopped green vegetables, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and marinated bean curd with sesame oil and sugar as the condiments. It's quite appetizing in color, aroma and taste. You can find these in other parts of China, but the Shanghai has its own variety. Enjoy!
Pigeon-Egg Dumplings 鸽蛋圆子
With the shape of a pigeon egg, this dumpling weighs about one tenth of a liang (5 grams). It is made of glutinous-rice paste with filling of a mixture of sugar, osmanthus and mint, and is eaten in the summer months. It is soft and fine, and tastes sweet and flavoured. This delicacy is served exclusively at the Osmanthus Hall opposite the ZigzagBridge at the Yu Garden Bazaar.
Dumplings Coated in Mashed Beans 擂沙圆
Mashed red beans are used as covering of delicacy. Its filling may be made of pork, red beans or sesame seeds. It is delicious and refreshing, and is easy to carry if home consumption is desired. You will find this delicacy among the most famous dumplings served at Qiaojiashan Snack House at the corner of Xiangyang and Yongjia Roads.
New Year Cake with Spare-Ribs 排骨年糕
In the dish, the meat is tender and crisp, the cake is soft and tasty, and the gravy is rich and flavoured, which is really appetizing. The Xiao Changzhou snack House at Sichuan Road of Fuzhou Road, and the Xiangdelai Snack House at Xizang Road of Jinling Dong Road are the best known places for this delicacy.
Crab-Brown Baked Cake 蟹壳黄
The cake is crisp, savoury and aromatic as brown as the colour of a cooked crab. The fillings include green onions with oil, pork, crabmeat, shrimps, sugar, roses, mashed beans, jujube paste. The Wu Yuan Snack House at the corner of Shimen and Weihai Roads is the most famous shop for this pastry.
Eyebrow-Shaped Shortcake 眉毛酥
With a crisp crust, the cake is shaped like an eyebrow. It has sweet and salty fillings, and tastes delicious. The shortcake served at the Surging Waves Pavilion Restaurant at the Yu Garden Bazaar is of the best quality.
Nanxiang Steamed Buns 南翔小笼包
Nanxiang Steamed Pork Dumplings (Nanxiang xiaolongbao) are a traditional snack of NanxiangTownship in Shanghai's suburbs and can be found all over Shanghai. These dumplings are made with a thin skin of dough and stuffed with a seasoned minced pork. The dumplings are then steamed in a bamboo steamer. Note that these dumplings are wrapped and sealed differently than other dumplings like jiaozi. We recommend taking a bite to let the juices cool. Otherwise, the juices could burn your tongue or spilt out on you. Then one can dip the dumpling into the dark Chinese vinegar provided to cool the dumpling to an appropriate temperature. In the city, there are two famous places to get Nanxiang Pork Dumplings. One is the area around the Yuyuan marketplace, while the other is the snack restaurants at the intersection of Tibet Road and Yan'an Road near People's Square.
Tea Dishes 茶味点心
There is a tradition in China of taking snacks with tea. One specialty is a rich meal with every course cooked with tea. The unique feature is that you don't see the tea but smell the fragrance of tea. You can experience the artistic conception of "There is no tea here but better than having tea".
Vegetarian Food 素食
The vegetarian dishes are cooked in imitation of meat and fish, either in shape, in flavor, or color. It is exquisitely shaped and the flavor is fresh and light. It is a kind of healthy food much recommended by nutritionists.
Dongpo Meat 东坡肉
The main ingredient is winter melon. Peel the melon, scrape off the seeds, and cut gently on the surface of the melon and fry it. Then, add vegetarian soup, condiment and stew it over low flames until the gravy is thickened. Its specialty is that it is bright in color, rich but not greasy, and looks similar to Dongpo meat (a stewed pork in dark sauce).
Shark's Fin 鱼翅
It is known as the "treasure of the sea". It is valuable for its nutrition. Soak the well-selected shark's fin in water until it swells, boil it and rinse it, then anange properly, steam and stew it. When it is ready, stew in delicious soap. It taste fresh, rich and savory.
Late autumn is the best time for eating crabs in Shanghai. From October to December every year, the best quality Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crabs witll green shells and white bottoms, rCrabs, Shanghaiich in fat and ovary, are shipped to restaurants all over the world. When the crabs are properly cooked, the fragrance appeals to diners' palate. There are such famous dishes like the crab meat bean curd, lily fruit in crab fat, rice cake in crab meat, delicacies much appreciated by diners.
Roast Duck 烤鸭
Beijing roast duck is bright in color, crispy in skin and tender in meat. Taken together with a special paste, scallions, steamed pancakes, it is very delicious. This world-renowned dish is not only available in Beijing, but also in Shanghai. It is roasted in open fire in the Cantonese style, combined with the culinary art of Beijing duck. It is known as Shanghai roast duck.
Cheese Butter Lobster 黄油焗龙虾
It is new-fashioned Cantonese dish. It tastes creamy, fresh, and mellow. A Chinese-Western combined dish, it is very popular in Japan and Southeast Asia.
I updated this article on January 21, 2013
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