Having dry food with a soup is very common in Shanghai. When Shanghainese people eat those briny dim sums like xiaolongbao, steamed buns with meat, they will also order a bowl of soup.
One of the most traditional soups is oiled bean curd and glass noodle soup. It's fresh and cheap as the soup is made of oiled bean curd and baiyebao, pork meat wrapped in bean curd skin.
Another local favorite soup is chicken and duck blood soup, which uses solidified blood as the main ingredient. The blood resembles dark red bean curd and has little taste. The intestines, heart, liver, and blood of a chicken and a duck, as well as all kinds of seasonings such as salt, shallots, ginger, wine, pepper and oil form the basic recipe. It is said the soup is healthy. It is available in places like City God's Temple and Yuyuan Garden. Most dim sum shops also offer this soup.
Many times a bowl of xiao huntun, or wonton soup, is also just the thing to warm you up on a cold winter day. There are various dumplings in Shanghai, with different stuffing such as meat and vegetable. Sanxian xiao hunhun, or literally three fresh wonton, is the most typical Shanghai-style dumpling. "Three fresh" here refers to the three ingredients in the soup, namely egg, dried shrimps and seaweed.
People in Shanghai classify da huntun (big wonton) and xiao huntun (little wonton). Big wonton is usually filled with meat and mixed vegetables, while little wonton only has meat. Three fresh wonton has extremely thin skin wraps and pure fresh meat. It's also different in shape with other dumplings.
Simple but yummy
Chicken porridge at Xiao Shao Xing restaurant is extremely popular among Shanghainese people. The first Xiao Shao Xing was established in 1947 on Yunnan Road S. and is still there today. The dish was first made in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province.
The porridge is boiled with chicken, shallot powder and ginger as well as chicken oil.
Kaiyang shallot oil-mixed noodle is also popular. In old times, when parents didn't have time to cook for lunch for their kids, they would bring a pot from home and go to the closest dim sum shop to buy kaiyang noodle.
Rice cake with spare-ribs (below) is another cheap and flavorful snack with a history of more than 50 years in Shanghai. The spare-ribs are swathed in flour, egg and other seasonings and fried in oil. In the dish, the meat is tender and crisp, the rice cake is soft and tasty, and the gravy is rich and flavorful.
(Shanghai Daily February 2, 2009)