Foods to eat in Shanghai this Autumn

By ShanghaiFamily 2018-12-20 23:26:08

6 foods to look out for when the weather starts to turn


Autumn in Shanghai means a kaleidoscopic array of native noshes. We've wrangled some of the better ones below. 


1. Hairy Crab

The “belle of the fall” is hairy crab, that small, mottled-green crustacean you see everywhere from street baskets to vending machines. Shanghainese will pay through the nose for one critter and don't mind tweezing thistles of meat from its runty pincers. The smaller females are actually preferred due to their creamy roe and belly ridges, which symbolize "layers of energy.” They're best eaten during late November, when they harbor the largest fat deposits. Our favorites are Jesse Restaurant’s crab meat and tofu, Jia Jia Tang Bao’s crab roe xiaolongbao, and Hai Jin Zi’s crab roe-scrambled eggs, which costs only RMB16. They blow truffle-scrambled eggs away. 

If you're game enough to eat the whole critter, skip the middleman and go straight to the source: The Tongchuan Fish Market, Shanghai’s seafood wholesaler (before it closes). You’ll want to buy the Yangcheng Lake variety, the Kobe beef cows of the crab world, which run you between RMB38-RMB300 depending on the size. Shlep them to a nearby restaurant, where they’ll steam them for a small fee. To dissect, flip the belly-flap up like a belt buckle and pop off the shell to unveil a reservoir of buttery orange tomalley. Lap this goodness up, then crack the crab in half to reach the morsels at the bases of the legs. Then use discarded legs to extract the wisps of meat from the pincer fingers.

Find it: Jesse Restaurant, 41 Tianping Lu (near Huaihai Xi Lu) 天平路41号 (近淮海西路), Tel: (0)21-6282-9260

Find it: Tongchuan Fish Market, Tongchuan Lu (near Caoyang Lu) 铜川路 (近曹杨路)


2. Persimmons and Mandarin oranges and Pomelos oh my!

You'll probably need a palate cleanse after that. Hit up your neighborhood fruit market for half-priced persimmons, Mandarin oranges and Pomelos -- think a more gargantuan grapefruit, but tangier and sweeter. 


3. Walnuts

Walnuts are some of the most abundant Autumn eats, and you can find them next to the peanuts and chestnuts (the ones churning in roasters) on the periphery of wet market stalls. Shanghainese prize these grizzled nuts for their antioxidant and brain-boosting properties -- they do look like little brains. 


4. Lotus Roots with Sticky Rice

Next door to these lie stalls slinging what resemble giant brown space slugs. They’re actually lotus roots whose air chambers have been stuffed with sticky rice like glutinous gatling guns. They’re then lubricated with sweet Osmanthus flower syrup, another seasonal ingredient. 


5. Sweet Potatoes

Come late fall, you’ll spot hawkers selling grilled sweet potatoes out of Medieval-looking drums. To eat, bite through the charred skin into the fluffy orange belly. They come dolloped with sugar, but this is excessive, as sweet potatoes are naturally syrupy-sweet, hence the name. 


6. Pomegranate Juice

And though pomegranate’s slightly played out in the West -- with seemingly everything from lemonade to nail polish remover flavored with this so-called superfood -- nothing soothes the spot like a cup of nectary pom juice supplied by a roadside vendor using an improvised squeezer.