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September 12, 2021

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Chongming’s sweet, light cuisine in middle of city

Chongming Island, China’s third largest island, is known for its clean environment and organic farming. Called “the land of fish and rice,” it harbors a rich biodiversity and is blessed with dark alluvial soil perfect for farming.

The island’s abundant specialty foods are available at Wulizan Chongming restaurant on Yan’an Road W. It’s a great spot to taste some of the island’s delicacies without traveling there.

The restaurant’s decor is bright and clean but lacks a compelling ambience.

The menu reflects the pure, original flavors of the island, translating to dishes that are less sweet and lighter than Shanghai’s local cuisine.

The Chongming jingua (golden melon) is a traditional appetizer known for its refreshing taste. It’s dubbed the “vegetable jellyfish” because its color and texture are similar after it’s sliced. The cold poached chicken’s flesh is succulent, with the taste of free-range chicken raised on the land’s bounty. Another island treasure is baibiandou (white haricot), usually lightly fried as a vegetable dish but served here as a cold appetizer.

Chongming Island is a well-known region where rice cultivation and fish breeding flourish. Delectable fresh fish is surely a staple, and dishes like steamed baishui (freshwater) fish and family-style white pomfret are recommended.

Chongming also breeds hairy crabs, and many of the island’s specialty dishes include crab meat.

The island’s clean water and relatively unpolluted aquaculture provide breeders with conditions similar to hairy crabs’ natural environment. Autumn is a popular time of year for crab eating on the island.

Another favorite — and a Chongming classic — is braised Chongming mutton, made with meat from white goats raised on the island. The mutton is tender in texture and has minimal “goaty” smell. The brown sauce adds a boost of rich flavors to the meat.

Chongming rice cake makes for a great dessert — a special snack on the island that’s fresh and chewy with a sweet taste.


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