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.
If Shouning Road is Shanghai’s go-to crayfish street, than Dingxi Road is Shanghai’s “crab row.” Almost every restaurant on the odd-numbered side of the street serves either crab soup or crab congee, made with either tank-fresh swimmer or mud crabs. Our two favorite renditions are Chaoshan Shaoguo’s creamy crab congee and the spicy mud crab stew (老坛子蟹, lǎo tánzi xiè) at Sichuan powerhouse, Deng Ji Chuan Cai.
You pick out your crab, either the rou xie (肉蟹), roe-less crab for 128RMB, or the gao xie, crab with roe for 158RMB. The servers swing a live crab by your table for approval, and then it’s into a hot lagoon of white chilies, garlic, brined Chinese long beans and Chinese cabbage, which infuse the crab’s already tender white meat with a briny twang and searing spiciness. In turn, the crab’s unctuous roe and liquids fatten the broth in a sort of culinary symbiotic relationship.
The mud crab’s stocky enough to where even the smallest limb houses a paint brush tip-sized clump of meat, so pore through the debris for every bit. Chances are there’ll be plenty of pickled goodness left over when you’re done bobbing for crab parts so order some white rice or plain noodles to sponge the rest up.
Deng Ji Chuan Cai – 737 Dingxi Lu, near Yan’an Xi Lu (定西路737号, 近延安西路). Tel: (0)21-6281-0449. Hours: 11:30am-2pm lunch, 5-10 pm dinner.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Ci fan (sticky rice balls) @ any you tiao stand
See a complete list of our Dish of the Day series here.
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