Every few days our team will scour Shanghai’s dining scene for scrumptious dishes that’ll fill your belly without emptying your savings. Not to discriminate, we’ll search everywhere from bicycle carts to chic venues with twenty-course tasting menus, knowing that any spot could have the next Dish of the Day.
Boiled and salted duck is a Nanjing specialty with a history of over 400 years. Though not as prevalent as in the Jiangsu Province capital, stands hawking this savory speciality populate many Shanghai backstreets.
We realize this bird’s pasty pallor doesn’t make it look all that appetizing, especially compared to the tan, crackling skin of a roast duck. But there’s a reason Nanjing salty ducks sell out within hours, while your average roast duck hangs untouched in a display window forever like a post-holiday season Christmas decoration. The salty duck’s skin sports a film of creamy fat on its underside that dissipates in your mouth like a succulent mist, and the meat’s dark and tender. It also lacks the excessive oil oozed by its roast counterpart. Think fattier, saltier, and more livery bai zhan ji.
While you might already have a neighborhood Nanjing duck stall, two stands stick out in our mind. One lies on Shouning Lu where the ducks are hung on what looks like an automated clothing rack and moved along a steel track like passengers on an inverted roller coaster. The other is xiaolongbao depot, Xiao Jing Ling on the Yunnan Road. You order your duck inside (22RMB for a half), then wait in line at a drive-thru-like window on the side of the joint, where you pick it up chopped in a plastic container. You can also sit down and eat it if there’s space, but there rarely is during peak times.
Your best off eating this delicacy in late summer and early autumn when it’s seasoned with Osmanthus flowers.
Xiao Jing Ling – 55 Yunnan Nan Lu, Ninghai Dong Lu (云南南路55号, 近宁海东路). Tel: (0)21-6326-6436. Hours: 8am-9pm.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Zongzi @ Wu Fang Zhai
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