My Shanghai, Recipes and Stories from a City on the Water, by Betty Liu
One of the Best Cookbooks of 2021 by the New York Times
Experience the sublime beauty and flavor of one of the oldest and most delicious cuisines on earth: the food of Shanghai, China’s most exciting city, in this evocative, colorful gastronomic tour that features 100 recipes, stories, and more than 150 spectacular color photographs.
Filled with galleries, museums, and gleaming skyscrapers, Shanghai is a modern metropolis and the world’s largest city proper, the home to twenty-four million inhabitants and host to eight million visitors a year. “China’s crown jewel” (Vogue), Shanghai is an up-and-coming food destination, filled with restaurants that specialize in international cuisines, fusion dishes, and chefs on the verge of the next big thing. It is also home to some of the oldest and most flavorful cooking on the planet.
Betty Liu, whose family has deep roots in Shanghai and grew up eating homestyle Shanghainese food, provides an enchanting and intimate look at this city and its abundant cuisine. In this sumptuous book, part cookbook, part travelogue, part cultural study, she cuts to the heart of what makes Chinese food Chinese—the people, their stories, and their family traditions. Organized by season, My Shanghai takes us through a year in the Shanghai culinary calendar, with flavorful recipes that go beyond the standard, well-known fare, and stories that illuminate diverse communities and their food rituals.
Chinese food is rarely associated with seasonality. Yet as Liu reveals, the way the Shanghainese interact with the seasons is the essence of their cooking: what is on a dinner table is dictated by what is available in the surrounding waters and fields. Live seafood, fresh meat, and ripe vegetables and fruits are used in harmony with spices to create a variety of refined dishes all through the year.
My Shanghai allows everyone to enjoy the homestyle food Chinese people have eaten for centuries, in the context of how we cook today. Liu demystifies Chinese cuisine for home cooks, providing recipes for family favorites that have been passed down through generations as well as authentic street food: her mother’s lion’s head meatballs, mung bean soup, and weekday stir-fries; her father-in-law’s pride and joy, the Nanjing salted duck; the classic red-braised pork belly (as well as a riff to turn them into gua bao!); and core basics like high stock, wontons, and fried rice.
In My Shanghai, there is something for everyone—beloved noodle and dumpling dishes, as well as surprisingly light fare. Though they harken back centuries, the dishes in this outstanding book are thoroughly modern—fresh and vibrant, sophisticated yet understated, and all bursting with complex flavors that will please even the most discriminating or adventurous palate.