Get out of town for some of the freshest catches
With the weather hotting up, it’s the ideal time to take a trip to a fishing village and enjoy the fruits of the sea. Thanks to Shanghai’s location near the coast, there are many such places within easy reach of the city. Three of them are recommended here.
Located in the southeast Zhoushan Islands in Zhejiang Province, Shenjiamen is one of the largest fishing harbors and seafood distribution centers in China. The five-kilometer harbor attracts thousands of fishermen.
When night falls, food stalls appear along the street facing the sea, boasting an excellent selection from that day’s catch. Most of the food stalls can be found near the Shenjiamen passenger terminal, where ships leave every day for Putuo Mountain, the famous Buddhist pilgrimage island nearby.
On these food stalls one can find the “Bombay duck” lizard fish, which has a thin, nearly transparent body. It can be stir-fried or stewed. The best way to cook it is to fry it in boiling oil for a golden, crunchy snack.
The traditional accompaniment to seafood in Shenjiamen is bayberry wine. Brewed with local bayberries and rice, it is said the drink can help in the digestion of seafood. Its sweet refreshing taste also makes it the ideal accompaniment for seafood.
The sea-front stalls are not only cheaper than restaurants, but they also have the added benefit of affording a view of the ocean, and exposing one to the fresh sea air.
Getting to Shenjiamen from Shanghai takes just four-and-a-half hours by a combination of bus and ferry. Buses leave every half hour from the tourist terminus near Nanpu Bridge, 1588 Waima Road. Tickets cost 138 yuan ($22.24).
“Visit the mother-in-law and she will treat you to the 16 bowls,” goes a folk rhyme in Xiangshan county, Ningbo city, Zhejiang Province. The bowls in question are the 16 signature seafood dishes of Xiangshan.
There are four cold dishes and 12 warm dishes, including silver clams, pickled crabs, roasted squid, boiled salted white shrimp, pomfret braised in soy sauce and yellow croaker with pickled cabbage
These 16 dishes originate from the home cooking of Xiangshan fishermen, and methods include braising, frying, stir-frying, boiling, roasting and smoking.
The best place to eat these dishes is Shipu town. Everyday at 5 am, fully-stocked fishing boats arrive at Shipu harbor. There are many restaurants along the harbor that sell live seafood.
The Xiangshan seafood tends to be on the salty side, as is the case with Ningbo cuisine in general.
There is a direct bus to Xiangshan that departs three times per day from Shanghai South Long-distance Bus Station.
Located in the north part of the Zhoushan Islands, Shengsi county boasts 404 islands among which 16 are inhabited.
Shengsi is famous for its crabs, whose compact flesh and roe sets them apart from other varieties, especially when combined with a sauce made of ginger, soy and vinegar.
The chewy texture is due to the crab being salt baked, rather than steamed or boiled as is more common in Shanghai. This method is also used in Cantonese cuisine.
Jihu beach in Shengsi boasts wonderful white sand and clear sea water where one can collect shellfish such as razor clams. You can even hire a fishing pole and try to catch your own supper. Shengsi is popular with tourists at weekends, and as such it can get crowded.
Book a round trip ticket and hotel before setting off. To get there, book the tickets at the tourist terminus near Nanpu Bridge at least one day in advance. As with trains, you will need with your ID card or passport.
(Above) Seafood stalls in Shenjiamen
(Left and top) Fresh seafood