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February 23, 2012

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Tweaking the noodles of neighbors

THOUGH Shanghai does not have its own distinctive noodles, it refines those of its neighbors in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

Shanghai is known for its yangchunmian, an inexpensive soup noodle without topping and seasoned with shredded spring onion. It has clear soup and a light flavor, based on Suzhou soup noodle catering to those who cannot afford expensive fish or meat toppings. The soup, like its Suzhou original, is made with pork bone and chicken meat and has a delicate taste.

Another fragrant Shanghai specialty derived from Yangzhou, Jiangsu, is congyou banmian, noodles mixed with scallop oil and topped with deep-fried scallops and dried shrimp meat. Noodles can be served either hot or cold and it's quite popular in Shanghai in the hot summer.

Shanghai also borrows noodle dishes from other cities in Yangtze River Delta, including pian'erchuan in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. This is a colorful soup noodle steamed with preserved greens, red lean pork and white bamboo shoots.

Another dish is pidumian from Nanjing, Jiangsu. This is a soup noodle made with more than 10 ingredients, including egg, Chinese cabbage, tomato, sausage and pidu, made of fried pork skin seasoned with aniseed and Chinese pepper.

Rice is the staple for people living in the Yangtze River Delta, not wheat flour noodles. Hence, the variety of noodles is not extensive; they tend to be soup noodles with toppings. People in the region are known for their discernment in food, placing considerable emphasis on the ingredients of the soup, the seasonings, fragrance and final presentation.


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