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Jan 24, 2008 03:40 PM

Shanghainese Food...

When I was in shanghai this summer, there were a lot of things ordered for us that I don't know the names of. I know it is difficult but when I go to China town in New York i try to find authentic shanghainese food. Could somebody tell me the names of these dishes?

1. there were soy beans (edameme) with tough, thinly sliced rough white squares. I think they were bean curd. In a clear, warm sauce. One of my favorite dishes!

2. vegetables in a yellowish curry

3. fried tiny little pieces of chicken, with bones, served with hot peppers in a whicker basket.

4. I think it might be cantonese: dim sum, bbq pork in a puffy pastry, and vegetables wrapped in a wide rice noodle

5. what is the difference between sichuan tofu and home style tofu?

6. a meat dish with onions wrapped in tin foil

7. A fried rice with only 4 or 5 ingredients

8. cucumber with garlic (cold)

9. shrimp balls

10. a dessert rice. purple, with a thick center, and some colorful things on top.

I know, I sound like i know nothing about Shanghai, but I really do! If you could please help me with the names of some of these dishes I would greatly appreciate it!

I'm sure there will be more to come when I think of it. ^.^

xie xie!

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  1. I was actually waiting for an “Old Shanghai Hand” to respond to your query, but since no Shanghai Chowhound has stepped forward so far, I’m going to give you my two pennies worth.

    Disclaimer: I’m Singaporean & have only visited Shanghai 4 times in the last couple of years (staying 2 weeks each time), so my understanding of Shanghainese cuisine may be rather limited. But, am a true-blue foodie who’s always very interested in learning about other cuisines, so here goes:

    Answer to your questions:

    1.There’s no specific name for the edamame dish, but the rough-cut beancurd sheets are called “bai yue”. I love them, too, and they make a tasty accompaniment to many side-dishes & stir-fries;

    2.Vegetables in yellow curry is not a native Shanghainese dish. It sounds a bit like the Portuguese sauce which originates from Macau/Hong Kong;

    3.Fried chicken with bones/hot peppers – “La Zi Ji Ding”;

    4.Dim sum is called “dian xin” in Mandarin – it’s a collective term for those dumplings like har gow, siew mai, etc. BBQ pork in puff pastry is called “char siew sou” in Cantonese (lingua franca in most American Chinatowns) or “cha shao quen” in Mandarin; Sorry, forgot the term used for vegies in wide rice noodles;

    5.Difference between Sichuan tofu & home-style tofu – well, Sichuan tofu is spicy. It’s cooked using Sichuan ("hua qiao") peppercorns, dried chillis, meat, garlic & soft white tofu. Home-style tofu (“Jia jang tofu”), on the other hand, is non-spicy & cooked using Chinese white cabbage (“bai cai”), carrots, meats, etc.

    6.Meat dish with onions wrapped in foil? Sorry – need more info on that;

    7.Fried rice with only 4 or 5 ingredients. Most likely Yangzhou fried rice (or “Yangzhou zhao fun”) which is rice stir-fried with eggs, barbecued pork, shrimp, garlic;

    8.Cucumber with garlic (cold) – that’s easy: “pai huang gua”. Very common Shanghainese appetizer;

    9.Shrimp balls – “xia qiu”;

    10.Purple rice dessert with colorful things on top? I think you’re referring to “zi” (purple) or “hei” (black) “nuo mi”.

    Can any other fellow Chowhounds help to fill in the gaps?

    3 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      I think you've pretty well covered it. Some minor notes:

      1. The dish would be called "mao dou bai ye" in Chinese.

      2. I don't recognize this as Shanghainese, either. My Shanghainese wife brought curried chicken and curried potatoes using a Madras-like yellow curry in her repertoire, but she's never cooked veggies that way.

      3. I'd call that just "La zi ji" becuase the "ding" usually implies boneless.

      4. Agree, it sounds like Cantonese dim sum. The wide rice noodle dish might be "chang fen" (usually wrapped around veggies, shrimp or pork and topped with a sweet sauce).

      5. You are right about Jia chang dou fu being a milder version; it's sometimes also prepared as a vegetarian dish in US Chinese restaurants

      6. I'm also clueless.

      7. Agree, "Yangzhou chao fan" or "Dan chao fan" (egg fried rice). I'd add that "Only" 4 or 5 ingredients is a lot for Shanghainese cuisine, which favors a minimalist apporach.

      8,9 Agree, though I don't think of shrimp balls as particularly Shanghainese

      10. Might be a versison of "Ba Bao Fan" (eight treasure rice) made with purple rice.

      1. re: Xiao Yang

        Thanks, Xiao Yang, you're a gem!

        But, shanghaiknights, not to put a damper on you - some of these dishes you're looking for, e.g. "mao dou bai yue" or "ba bao fan" are hard to come by even in Singapore, with a 75% Chinese population out of 4 million people! You may not be able to find any NY Chinatown restaurant that has them.

        To know more about the different types of dim sum, you can look at this link to Ton Kiang Restaurant (Geary Blvd, San Francisco), one of my fave dim sum spots in the city when I visit:

      2. re: klyeoh

        Yes, #2 sounds like a Hong Kong style dish - "veggies in Portuguese sauce", usually with the sauce just on top and not mixed in with the veggies.

      3. 5.the difference between sichuan tofu and home style tofu is that sichuan cook tofu directly,home style use fryed tofu,and sichuan use Pixian broad bean sauce and sichuan pepper which made the dish has a special flavor.
        6.That is 铁板牛肉。Maybe originated from Korea or Japan.

        1 Reply
        1. re: longhairuo

          铁板牛肉 = tie ban niu rou = iron plate beef is sometimes translated as "sizzling beef" and in my experience usually cooked/served on a heavy iron plate or skillet. Maybe the foil is a shortcut. In Korean BBQ, foil is sometimes used as a liner, and I'm wondering if the OP really meant it was "wrapped" in foil (as in "foil-wrapped chicken").

        2. #4 Sounds like Cantonese dim sum. Dim sum is fairly common now in Shanghai.

          #7 Fried rice is not really a Shanghainese dish, it's more Cantonese.

          #10 is a very common shanghainese dessert using sweat sticky black rice.

          5 Replies
          1. re: PeterL

            The origins of fried rice are not clear. It's often attributable to Yanzgzhou. Like wontons (also of northern origin), fried rice was popularized in the US by Chinese -American restaurants run by Cantonese.

            1. re: Xiao Yang

              Yanzgzhou? Typo maybe...Yangzhou? Interesting question - when did fried rice appear in Chinese cuisine. Earliest rice finds in China date from the Zhou Dynasty (12th Century - 221 B.C.) when it was known to be both a superior and expensive grain - and when northern China was much more humid and warmer than today. It was known then to be able to dried along with other grains like wheat and barley. Use of rice is certainly identified in Shang inscriptions (18th Century - 12th Century B.C.) Since fire has been known to have been used since the Yangshao culture (5000-3200 B.C.) it has to be anyone's guess when someone decided to fry up some left-over rice no?

              1. re: scoopG

                Yes, typo, sorry. I meant Yangzhou. The Yangtze Delta area has been characterized as "the land of fish and rice" and the old saw about "noodles in the north, rice in the south" doesn't really apply to the Shanghai region, which is central, and draws on both rice and wheatens in its cuisine. Rice is in fact a primary farm product of Yangzhou. The real origin of fried riced may be subject to endless debate, but even on Cantonese-American restaurant menus the popular version of fried rice is usually called something like "Yang Chow Fried Rice". (There's often also a "Fook Joy fried rice", referring to the more paella-like version from Fuzhou.)

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  When people from Hong Kong began to travel to China, they went to Yangzhou and look for Yangzhou fried rice. The restaurants in Yangzhou were puzzled because they have never heard of Yangzhou fried rice. Now you can get Yangzhou fried rice in Yangzhou, served mostly to HK tourists. It's a much inferior version of Yangzhou fried rice than what you can find in HK.

            2. re: PeterL

              #10 is called 8 treasures rice.

            3. Thank you all very much for responding!
              True, not all of the food was Shanghainese, but I did eat it there so I decided to ask about it. And the infamous #6 was as obscure to us as it was to you. We didn't order the food, we just ate it :)
              Xie Xie!