For the next three days, One Spoonful At A Time will be tasting culinary delights from Shanghai, China.

Shanghainese cuisine, like its people and local culture is a fusion of the surrounding Jiangnan region. The method of food preparation in Shanghai emphasizes on freshness and balance with particular attention to the richness of the savoury.

Shanghai, means “above the sea” but paradoxically, the local preference for fish often steers toward the freshwater variety due to the city’s location at the mouth of China’s longest river. Nonetheless fish and seafood tends to be braised, steamed or even stir-fried.

My love for Shanghai grows fonder as its preference for meat is unquestionably pork (but it is also ubiquitous in the style of Chinese cooking). Ground pork is used for dumplings and buns, slices of pork including tripe are used in a variety of stir-fries, pork bone is also promulgated in a variety of soups.

I will be visiting a number of varied restaurants whilst in Shanghai (though there is so much my stomach can take in 3 days – but I will try my best!). Before going to culinary school, I visited Shanghai and ate some very classic as well as local dishes. These will recur again during this trip. But here’s just a sneak peek on what is to come.

Traditional Shanghainese cooking includes “red-cooked [braised/stewed] pork belly” (红烧肉), a traditional dish with the added flair of anise and sweetness provided by the chefs of Shanghai.

Shanghai also lies in the heart of the soy-producing region. Think tofu, but here it’s stinky (literally, it’s called stinky tofu due to an earthy almost daunting aroma) as it is fermented for about 6 months.

Other originals include xiǎo​lóng​bāo​ (小笼包) buns from the little steaming cage; ie. steamed dumpling). Probably the most famous Shanghai dish: small steamed buns – often confused for dumplings – come full of tasty (and boiling hot!) broth inside with a dab of meat. To eat a bun, one must first bite a little hole into them, sip the broth then dip it in dark vinegar (醋 cù​) to season the meat inside.

One of my favorites is shēng​ jiān​ bāo​ (生煎包, lit. raw fried buns). These are much larger (as the dough is from raised flour) and are pan-fried until the bottom of the bun is crispy brown. It is best accompanied by vinegar and eaten with particular care as the broth inside squirts out very easily. The best is at Yang’s Fried Dumpling where one dish of these addictive buns costs around 15 RMB (1 Euro).

I am very excited for my upcoming trip to Shanghai and I hope to share with you all my culinary adventure in this fast-growing gastronomic capital of Asia.

Stay tuned!

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