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
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.