Though now indisputably the financial centre and the place to be of China (some columnists even compared it to as high as the New York or Paris of China), Shanghai was never regarded highly in China gastronomic wise: New York? Perhaps. Paris? Never. It is not one of the Four Grand Schools of regional cuisines (that honor goes to Sichuan, Canton, Shantou and Jiangzu), nor it even one of the Eight Grand Schools of regional cuisines (the first four plus Zijiang, Anhui, Fukian and Hunan). The ubiquitous footnote (or shall I say foodnote?) for Shanghaiese food is 濃油重醬, lung yu chun chiung, which means thickly oily and heavily condiment-ed in English.
Is that so or is that no so? Can a regional cuisine be as monotonous as for us summing it up in four words? Are we giving Shanghaiese food its due? I hardly think so. For there are some lighter and more refreshing dishes among the menu. So today I would do Shanghaiese food the justice by introducing a very tasty and soothing dish: the braised bamboo shoots with salted pork. I learned the recipe from my mom about 2 years ago and it is unbelievably easy to make. But it is also a dish that's full of the "umami" of the greens and the meat with virtually no addition of any flavorings.
Even if you can't fetch the salted pork in your place, you can still make it easily at home just like my great grandma once did. In fact, all Shanghaiese used to make their salted pork at home. All you need is a cut of fresh ham, coat it with salt evenly and leave it in cold and dry air (my great grandma used to put it inside a rice basin so that the rice can absorb the fragrant of the ham during the "cellaring" as well) for 3 or 4 days. The crunchiness of the bamboo shoots and the tenderness of the salted pork match with each other like a dream.
Salted pork 200g
Fresh bamboo shoots 400g
Yellow rice wine 2 tsp
Chicken stock 1/2 cup
Cover the bamboo shoots with cold water for about 15 minutes. Then blanch it for about 5 minutes, drain thoroughly. Leave cold for a few minutes and cut the shoots into strips.
Cook the salted pork with boiling water slowly for about 45 minutes. Take the pork out and cut into cubes.
Put the shoots and the pork into a saucepan, add the yellow rice wine and the chicken stock. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, stir sparsely.
Serves four to six.