A Shanghai classic dish - these soup dumplings should be your first meal in Shanghai. Delicate thin-skinned dumplings, with pork or vegetable or shrimp or crab fillings inside with a delicious hot broth, each is an explosion of flavor in the mouth. Careful as these are served piping hot in those cute bamboo baskets so give each dumpling a few moments in the soy sauce and vinegar baths before plonking into your mouth.
Shanghai's famed steamed crab uses a special type of crab found in rivers and is normally consumed in late autumn and winter. The crabs are tied with ropes or strings, placed in bamboo containers, steamed and served. There few other artificial ingredients added to the dish yet it tastes fantastic. Da Zha Xie is usually consumed with vinegar.
Certainly, the smelliest food in the city, stinky tofu, fermented and plenty offensive to the nose is one of Shanghai's favorite snacks, and many foreigners don't want to try it. Deep fried and doused with soybean paste and red chili sauce, the crispy outer shell of the oddly mild food encases crumbly and almost sweet tofu.
Red-cooking, known as hongshao in Chinese is a style prevalent throughout all of China. The color and taste are achieved by slow-cooking proteins in soy sauce with sugar and fermented bean paste. In Shanghai, hongshao pork is a marvelous dish that can be found at every level of dining from street food to fine dining. Walk down the town's narrow cobblestone alleyways and you'll be greeted by rows of glistening pork knuckles, a deep red hue and warm to the touch.
Usually, a breakfast item, you tiao (dough fritters), you tiao is a starchy dry sesame pastry that is baked in a barrel similar to what the Indians do with the Naan. Literally meaning “oil slick,” this fried doughnut-like delicacy doesn’t try to fool anyone into thinking it’s healthy. You tiao make for a great on the go breakfast and are best paired with fresh hot soy milk.
Even as Shanghai’s street food scene fades, tea eggs are still available everywhere, from convenience stores to newspaper stands. The chicken eggs are hard-boiled in a mixture of green tea and soy sauce and kept in a crock pot for warmth.
Known in China as chuanr, kebabs are usually found at night on pushcarts parked strategically outside of bars and clubs. The sellers definitely know their target audience, as there’s no better-drunk food than greasy meat on sticks. A variety of vegetables and starches are also available, but the epitome of chuanr is fatty lamb meat.
Bing is a Chinese go-to word describing any food that's flat and round. The fine wheat pancakes used to eat Peking Duck are bing; the small flaky scallion filled pastries of Shanghai are bing; and moon cakes, whether savory or sweet, are also bing. Da bing (big bing) simply refers to a large, flat round made from wheat dough cooked on a giant round griddle, seasoned with salt, scallions, sesame seeds, or a spicy paste.
Shanghai radish fritters are sensational. You could make them at home, but first, you'd need to weld a small oval tin cup onto the end of a long metal handle to make the mold in which you dunzi cook. A flour and water batter goes in first, followed by a big spoonful of shredded white radish mixed with chopped scallions, coriander and some salt, and then it's topped up with enough batter to fill the mold to the brim. Then, the whole spoon is lowered carefully into bubbling hot oil and left until the radish cake miraculously rises up from the tin, released into the oil to continue browning.