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Dining in Shanghai

As the locals in Shanghai put it, 'Blessed are those born in Shanghai as they have the most chances to taste delicious food'. Shanghai Cuisine is not one of the Eight Major Cuisines of China but is a choice blend of the most appealing aspects of these other national styles of food. Also, Shanghai's chefs are always ready to adopt the best aspects of foreign cuisines and make them their own. Therefore, it may be safely said that you can enjoy all the best food from home and abroad for all budgets when in Shanghai.

The traditional Shanghai cuisine, Hu Cai, largely consists of two types, Benbang (local) and Haipai (fusion). Cantonese cuisine is also incredibly popular in Shanghai, and due to its location between the Yangtze River and the South China Sea, seafood, particularly the freshwater variety, is featured in many of its culinary offerings.

Popular Local Delicacies
Beggar's Chicken
A legendary dish in Shanghai, Beggar's Chicken is prepared by wrapping a whole chicken in lotus leaves and covering it with mud, before placing it in the oven to cook to perfection (in the olden days, the chicken was baked in the ground). After it is taken out of the oven, the hardened clay is then broken in front of diners to reveal perfectly juicy and tender chicken.

Pi Dan
Also known as Thousand-Year-Old Eggs, Pi Dan are preserved duck eggs flavoured with lime and ginger. Despite its name, the eggs normally are preserved for only 100 days at the most before consumption. The recipe is made by thickly coating raw duck eggs with a concoction of mud, tea, rice husks, wood ash, soda, lye and lime. These ingredients penetrate the shell, causing a change in colour, texture and taste within. It may look revolting with its dark brown albumen and black yolk, but the taste, according to those who have tried it, is sublime.

Xiao Long Bao
Xiao Long Bao or Little Dragon Buns are small, soft buns with meat fillings (usually pork) which are then steamed in bamboo containers, resulting in super thick skins and juicy insides. Popularly-known as 'dim sum', it is widely consumed throughout Shanghai and the whole country, so much so that it has been said that if you haven't tried Shanghai's pork dumplings, then it's the same as never having been to Shanghai at all. Xiao Long Bao can be found in abundance everywhere around town, be it in upmarket restaurants or at tiny stalls on the streets.

Chou Dou Fu
The first reaction first-timers usually have towards this local delicacy would be to hold their noses or their breath. Yet, despite its pungent odour, those who have tried it usually come back for more. Chou Dou Fu or 'Smelly Tofu' is another popular local dish commonly found on Shanghai's streets. Fermented with a mixture of sour milk, vegetables, meat, Chinese herbs and other optional ingredients for several months, the stinky tofu is commonly fried, but it can also be eaten cold, steamed or stewed.

Jiya Xuetang
Jiya Xuetang, otherwise known as Chicken and Duck Blood Soup, has congealed duck blood as its main ingredient and resembles dark red tofu with no distinctive taste. The solidified duck blood is served in a clear chicken broth with some salt and spring onion added to it for flavour. The idea of congealed blood may sound rather appalling, but it is said to be quite tasty, and good for the health, too. The Chinese believe that eating parts of the animal benefits the corresponding parts of the body, so that means consuming animal blood will give your blood a boost.

Hairy Crab
Hairy Crab is a freshwater crab characterised by patches of fur-like fuzz on its claws, hence the name. It is a very popular dish in Shanghai, as the meat is believed by the locals to have a 'yin' (cooling) effect on the body. Flavourful and sweet, the hairy crab is a seasonal dish which can be mostly found in bigger restaurants. The most-preferred way to eat this crab is to toss it into a bamboo steamer immersed in boiling water for about 15 to 20 minutes, dip the meat in a mixture of vinegar, shredded ginger and a bit of sugar, and down it all with rice wine.,
Author/Editor By : Athena