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Shanghai Snack Food

What are the famous Shanghai snack food? Here is my recommendation for eight Shanghai local snacks you should try.

For me, one exciting part of traveling is to explore the famous local food.  Before the trip, I’d do the research online, to find out what those famours foods are and where to find them.   

Every place in China has its own spcial food. People also like to find the original place for that food as the original one would be considered as the best.  

But it might be difficult to visit every original place, especially if you only visit a place for one or two days.

My strategy is to find the famous local food street or food market, where I can sample most of them. For example, to taste the old Beijing snacks, you need to visit Beijing Huguosi street. If visit Xian, then better not to miss Xi’an Muslim food street.

The best place to find Shanghai snack food should be the old city God’s Temple at Yuyuan. Here is my recommendation of eight must-have Shanghai snack food.

1. Soup Dumplings (Tang Bao)

Soup Dumplings (Tang Bao)

In China, you may see the steamed dumplings everywhere, but Shanghai soup dumpling is not the normal small cadge steamed dumplings. It is famous for its semi-transparent skins and rich-flavoured broth.

The filling is mainly pork, balanced with the saltiness and sweetness, which is a typical taste for Shanghai food. A famous filling is mixed ground pork with crab meat and crab roe (called Xie Huang).

It looks tiny with very thin skin. I was amazed that I can still use chopstick to pick it up without damaging the skin.

Shanghai Soup Dumplings

Be careful when you bite it, because under the skin there is very hot and savoury soup. No wonder for those big size soup dumplings, they even come with a tube!

The best place for soup dumpling is Nanxiang Soup Dumpling Shop at Yuyuan, which is located within old city God's Temple area.  

Shanghai Soup Dumplings

 2. Half Pan-fried Dumplings  (Sheng  Jian Bao)

Shanghai Half Pan-fried Dumplings
Shnaghai Half Pan-fried Dumplings

Crispy at the bottom and soft on the top, Sheng Jian Bao is another not-to-miss Shanghai snack food. The filling tastes similar to those in soup dumpling, except without that much soup inside.

Shanghai Half Pan-fried Dumplings.

The bottom part is pan-fried to have a beautiful golden colour and become crispy. Afterwards, add water and cover lid to steam for 10 minutes, so the top part is soft as the steamed buns.

Shanghai Half Pan-fried Dumplings

The most famous shop for Sheng Jian Bao is Shanghai Xiaoyang Shenjia at Shanghai Wujiang Road.

3. Shanghai Big Wonton Soup

Shanghai Big Wonton Soup

The wonton soup may not need any introduction, but Shanghai wonton gives me a special impression is its big fillings, which is normally call Shanghai big filling wonton soup.

I still remember the first time when I came back China from the UK, looking for food after landed in the airport. Among so many food choices, I wanted most was a bowl of Shanghai big filling wonton soup:)

Shanghai Big Wonton Soup

The fillings can be made by fresh pork or mixed with vegetable. Seasoned with shrimps and seaweed, the soup is so fresh and full of flavour. This is usually the simple and light lunch I’d like to have when I am out for shopping. You can find it in most food shops in Shanghai.

4. Pork Moon Cake (Xian Rou Yue Bing)

Shanghai Pork Moon Cakes

My impression of moon cake is all about Chinese Middle Autumn Festival. The moon cakes are either filled with sweet nuts or salty duck yolk, which is bit too heavy and sweet to me.   

So I was surprised to see the pork stuffed moon cakes in Shanghai, which appear to be a very popular Shanghai snack food as you can see them almost everywhere.

Shanghai Pork Moon Cakes

The out layer of pork moon cake is the same as the traditional Su style moon cake (another type is Guang style). The pork fillings taste similar to those used in steamed dumplings.

But because it is freshly baked, the outer layer is crispy and inside is warm, which is totally different to dumplings.  It is really a pleasant surprise to me. Tastes better when it is warm. Love it.

5.  Spare Rib Rice Cakes (Pai Gu Nian Gao)

Shanghai Spare Rib and Rice Cakes.

This food is recommended by a Shanghai local. The spare ribs are wrapped by batter and deep fried, served with fried rice cakes and a dipping sauce.

Shanghai Spare Rib and Rice Cakes.

The batter is well seasoned, taste slightly salty. The ribs are easy to bite and off the bone. The meat has rich flavour even without dipping sauce, so I guess it must be marinated in advance. A dipping sauce offers the additional flavour, which makes an interesting combination with rice cakes.

6. Sweet Wine Glutinous Rice Ball Soup (Jiu Niang Yuan Zi)

Shanghai Sweet Wine Sticky Rice Ball Soup.

Compare to the sweet rice wine I had in Hunan, the Shanghai sweet wine tastes so light that I can barely notice the taste of wine.  It is not that sweet either.  

I have seen this dish several times in Shanghai, apparently Shanghai locals treat it as a small sweet dish along with main dishes. It may come with small or larger version, depending where you order it. If you like a light sweet treat, this is what you should try.  

Shanghai Sweet Wine Sticky Rice Ball Soup.

7.  Five Spiced Beans (Wu Xiang Dou)

Shanghai Five Spiced Beans.

Five spiced beans are famous Shanghai snack food. I remember when I was little, every time when my parents went to Shanghai, they would bring back these beans for me and brother.

The cream flavour is the classic one, a pack of beans is a perfect gift for friends and relatives. I got two packs for my brother this time.

Shanghai Five Spiced Beans.

It is said that the five spiced beans have a history of more than hundreds of years, which has became a symbol of the city which is similar as Nanxiang Soup Dumplings.

More about the history of Shanghai five spiced beans can be found from this page, a three page article from USA Chinadaily.

8. Shanghai Fruit Snack, Chen Pi Plums (Chen Pi Mei)

Shanghai Fruit Snack Plums

Similar to many other tyes of Chinese fruit snacks, this fruit snack has a well-mixed sweetness and sourness. The special part is it has the the ‘dried orange skin’ flavour. In China, we also have the snack made from the dried orange skin.     

This fruit snack is my childhood favourite. Today, I have chance to have it again, still love it. I think it is a wonderful choice of gift as a healthy Shanghai snack food. 

Shanghai Fruit Snack Plums

Ok, this is my recommendation for famous Shang snack food. Hope you like them. Next time, I will share more about famous Shanghai dishes, those you can see from Shanghai loca restaurants.

Hope you like this post for Shanghai snack food. If so, please share with others:)

(Post: 23/08/15)

You may also like Xian Food Travel and Beijing Food Travel.

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