Shanghai cuisine, also known as Hu
cai (pinyin: hù cài) is a popular
style of Chinese cuisine. The city of Shanghai itself
does not have a separate and unique cuisine of its
own, but modifies those of the surrounding provinces,
is Jiangsu and Zhejiang coastal provinces. What
can be called Shanghai cuisine is epitomized by
the use of alcohol. Fish, crab, 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.
The use of sugar is common in Shanghainese cuisine,
especially when used in combination with soy sauce.
Non-natives tend to have difficulty identifying
this usage of sugar and are often surprised when
told of the "secret ingredient". The most
notable dish of this type of cooking is "sweet
and sour spare ribs" ("tangcu xiaopai"
in Shanghainese). "Red cooking" is a popular
style of stewing meats and vegetables associated
"Beggar's Chicken" is a legendary dish
of a southern origin, called "jiaohua ji"
in Mandarin, wrapped in lotus leaves and covered
in clay. Though usually prepared in ovens, the original
and historic preparation involved cooking in the
ground. The lion's head meatball and Shanghai-style
nian gao are also uniquely Shanghainese, as are
Shanghai fried noodles, a regional variant of chow
mein that is made with Shanghai-style thick noodle.
Lime-and-ginger-flavoured thousand-year eggs and
stinky tofu are other popular Shanghainese food
Facing the East China Sea, seafood in Shanghai is
very popular. However, due to its location among
the rivers, lakes, and canals of the Yangtze Delta,
locals favor freshwater produce just as much as
saltwater products like crabs, oysters, and seaweed.
The most notable local delicacy is Shanghai hairy
Shanghainese people are known to eat in delicate
portions (which makes them a target of mockery from
other Chinese), and hence the servings are usually
quite small. For example, notable buns from Shanghai
such as the xiaolong mantou (known as xiaolongbao
in Mandarin) and the shengjian mantou are usually
about four centimetres in diameter, much smaller
than the typical baozi or mantou elsewhere.