Jiangnan is an area in China encompassing lands situated in the south of the Yangtze River. Thanks to the warm weather and adequate water supply the land supports boundless paddy fields and freshwater fisheries. Known as the ‘Land of Plenty’ in China, its most important cities are Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Zhenjiang, Suzhou, Shaoxing and Ningbo. Not surprising, then, that with its abundant products this area has given birth to many delicious cuisines.
Coming from the most famous city of this area Shanghai cuisine is both delicate and delicious; it is typically sweet, with rock sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sauce and yellow wine most often used for seasoning. Shanghai cuisine emphasises the use of condiments and the importance of retaining the original flavours of the raw ingredients while preserving lightness in flavour. It is mellower and slightly sweet in taste compared to other Chinese cuisines.
When it comes to authentic Shanghainese cuisine, Mo’s cuisine is one of the most renowned. Founded by the Mo brothers, you can taste it in the city’s most famous eatery – Yangtze Restaurant. Chef Li Yaoyun is the man who helps the Mos create their dishes and win their many accolades. Now, in Macau, we have the chance to taste this delectable cuisine in a newly open restaurant in NAPE- Shanghai Mansion. Executive Chef Mr. Zhu is the apprentice of Chef Li Yaoyun, and here you can taste the true flavours of Shanghai cuisine.
Cold dishes are the Chinese version of an appetiser, and are very common in Shanghai cuisine. Deep-fried sliced gluten with peanuts, day-lily, fungi and mushrooms is the typical cold dish, with the chewy gluten stir-fried with the vegetables after being fried, before turning off the heat seasoning the dish with soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. After cooking, place it in the fridge and you can enjoy the cool sweet and savoury dish. More must-try cold dishes includes jujubes and sweet rice cakes, sweet and sour ribs and the vegetable salad that comes with homemade salad dressing.
Following the cold dishes, the main courses are even more exciting. To evaluate the quality of a Shanghai cuisine restaurant, you must try its Grandmother pork braised in brown sauce. It’s a very homely dish for Shanghai families. The chef selects the pork belly with clearly three layers then cuts it into the same size. He then braises the pork in brown sauce over a low heat to make it tender. You will amazed by the perfect balance of fatness and lean meat – and the brown sauce is an absolutely rice killer!
For those who prefer a lighter flavour, sautéed shelled shrimp is the choice. The shrimps might seem to be tasteless but it is really a challenge for the chef to keep the plain colour full of flavours and ensure every shrimp is crispy.
In addition, there are plenty of enticing dishes that you rarely find in Macau such as sea crab dough ball, stewed pork ball in brown sauce, noodles in scallions and signature Shanghai-style bamboo shoot soup with fresh and pickled streaky pork.
*Editor-in-Chief, Essential Macau