The upcoming Shanghai exhibition got me thinking about Shanghai cuisine. What do I know about it? Absolutely nothing, well, except for this dumpling called Xiao Long Bao. According to the description in Wikipedia:
Shanghai does not have a definitive cuisine of its own, but modifies those of the surrounding provinces (mostly from adjacent Jiangsu and Zhejiang coastal provinces). What can be called Shanghai cuisine is epitomized by the use of alcohol. Fish, eel, crab, and chicken are “drunken” with spirits and are briskly cooked/steamed or served raw. Salted meats and preserved vegetables are also commonly used to adjuntify the dish.
As far as I’m concerned, any food “drunken” with spirits has to taste good. Anyway, back to Xiao Long Bao or “small steamer bun.” This dumpling is filled with pork or minced crab and soup. The soup is what got me the first time I ate it. Somebody forgot to tell me it was scalding hot and I put the whole thing in my mouth thinking it was just another dim sum. Apparently, there’s a technique to eating this innocent looking dumpling (filled with lava). You’re supposed to bite off the top, suck all the soup, then dip it in vinegar before eating. That was my introduction to Shanghai cuisine but I need to learn more. If you know of any other Shanghai dishes I should try, feel free to add your 2 cents.
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