Breakfast in Shanghai

Posted By | Posted On Sep 01, 2011

Breakfast is a touchy subject. Here is the States we have been told that it is the most important meal of the day. In Mediterranean countries, breakfast is often a croissant or Italian cornetto and some strong coffee. I have never been a breakfast person, and will often wait until lunchtime to eat anything at all. But I am always curious to see what other cultures have for breakfast.

My tour participants are often surprised to learn that Dim Sum is typically eaten for breakfast i n places like Hong Kong, or Guangdong, China. I guess the idea can be hard to swallow for American palates accustomed to bacon and eggs, and toast with jam.

In Shanghai, the first meal of the day often includes a Ci Fan Tuan, or sticky rice roll. A Chinese unsweetened deep- fried cruller known as You Tiao, is surrounded by spicy pickled and shredded mustard green stem called Zha Cai, and Rou Song, feathery light, slightly sweet dehydra ted pork, made by stewing cuts of pork in a sweetened soy sauce, shredding with forks

Ci Fan Tuan – “Sticky rice roll”

and then drying it out in a low oven. The final product melts in your mouth, not unlike cotton candy. The fried dough, mustard green stem and pork are encased in a tightly packed cylinder of sticky rice.  Eaten together, usua lly at room temperature, the effect is sweet, savory, salty, chewy and crunchy. Often accompanied by a steaming hot bowl of sugared soy bean milk, this combination gives the cosmopolitan residents of Shanghai the “get up and go” needed to get through a busy day.

You can buy homemade Ci Fan Tuan at Mei Sum Bakery on Beach Street in Boston’s Chinatown. Ask for the “sticky rice roll”.

Mei Sum Bakery

40 Beach Street

Boston 617 357-4020

written by Jim Becker, Chinatown guide

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