The Food in Shanghai (East)

Eastern China lies on the great plain formed by the river delta of the mighty Yangtse River, which flows into the sea just north of Shanghai.

This is one of China's leading agricultural regions, for the river delta contains some of the most fertile land in China, farmed for some 2000 years, and it was from the produce of this region that much of the classical cooking of China was created.

Both wheat and rice are grown here, as well as barley, corn, soy beans and an abundance of vegetables. Peanuts produce the oil which is largely used in cooking. The Yangtse is the greatest rice-producing region in China, and it follows that all rice-based products exist in abundance - among them rice wine, used extensively in dishes. Rice is often used too as a stuffing - or to make such classic dishes as Eight Treasure Rice - a sweet steamed pudding, made of glutinous rice and steamed with glace fruits, bean paste, and nuts.

Chekiang province, south of the Yangtse, is known as the land of rice and fish, and it is one of the wealthiest and most heavily populated regions of China. This area of the lower Yangtse is well-irrigated, criss-crossed with innumerable streams, ponds and lakes, ideal for ducks, fish, frogs and eels. Hence such classic dishes as the duck dishes of Nanking and the freshwater fish and shellfish dishes of Yangchow.

Leaves of the lotus, another natural product of the ponds, streams and lakes, are frequently used for wrapping food for cooking (usually by steaming). Meat, chicken, savoury rice and whole fish are cooked in this way. During cooking, the contents of the aromatic flavour of the lotus leaves. East China is also well known for paper-wrapped dishes - morsels of chicken, beef, prawns etc, flavoured with mushrooms, singer, onions etc are wrapped up in little packets of cellophane paper. The packets are deep-fried in hot oil and opened with chopsticks.

Shanghai, on the Yangtse estuary, is the largest city in China, and one of the most cosmopolitan, being the centre of China's trade and industry. Its cuisine is noted for its use of red-cooking, with dark soy sauce, and its lavish use of sugar, which produces rich, sweet dishes with exquisite flavours and appearance.


<>   Last Modified by Xiaoniu SuChu Hsu (p) in May 1998    suchu@techart.nia.edu.tw