My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories from a City on the Water (Hardcover)
One of the Best Cookbooks of 2021 by the New York Times
Experience the sublime beauty and flavor of one of the oldest and most delicious cuisines on earth: the food of Shanghai, China’s most exciting city, in this evocative, colorful gastronomic tour that features 100 recipes, stories, and more than 150 spectacular color photographs.
Filled with galleries, museums, and gleaming skyscrapers, Shanghai is a modern metropolis and the world’s largest city proper, the home to twenty-four million inhabitants and host to eight million visitors a year. “China’s crown jewel” (Vogue), Shanghai is an up-and-coming food destination, filled with restaurants that specialize in international cuisines, fusion dishes, and chefs on the verge of the next big thing. It is also home to some of the oldest and most flavorful cooking on the planet.
Betty Liu, whose family has deep roots in Shanghai and grew up eating homestyle Shanghainese food, provides an enchanting and intimate look at this city and its abundant cuisine. In this sumptuous book, part cookbook, part travelogue, part cultural study, she cuts to the heart of what makes Chinese food Chinese—the people, their stories, and their family traditions. Organized by season, My Shanghai takes us through a year in the Shanghai culinary calendar, with flavorful recipes that go beyond the standard, well-known fare, and stories that illuminate diverse communities and their food rituals.
Chinese food is rarely associated with seasonality. Yet as Liu reveals, the way the Shanghainese interact with the seasons is the essence of their cooking: what is on a dinner table is dictated by what is available in the surrounding waters and fields. Live seafood, fresh meat, and ripe vegetables and fruits are used in harmony with spices to create a variety of refined dishes all through the year.
My Shanghai allows everyone to enjoy the homestyle food Chinese people have eaten for centuries, in the context of how we cook today. Liu demystifies Chinese cuisine for home cooks, providing recipes for family favorites that have been passed down through generations as well as authentic street food: her mother’s lion’s head meatballs, mung bean soup, and weekday stir-fries; her father-in-law’s pride and joy, the Nanjing salted duck; the classic red-braised pork belly (as well as a riff to turn them into gua bao!); and core basics like high stock, wontons, and fried rice.
In My Shanghai, there is something for everyone—beloved noodle and dumpling dishes, as well as surprisingly light fare. Though they harken back centuries, the dishes in this outstanding book are thoroughly modern—fresh and vibrant, sophisticated yet understated, and all bursting with complex flavors that will please even the most discriminating or adventurous palate.
About the Author
Betty Liu is a Chinese-American home cook who resides in Boston with her husband, Alexander Xu, and their dog, Annie. Her whole family is from Shanghai, and her husband’s family is from Suzhou and Wuxi, so she grew up eating homecooked food from the region, both in the US and in China. She started writing about Chinese food in 2015 on her award-winning blog bettysliu.com and found joy in talking about the food that reminded her of home. Since then, her writing, photography, and recipes have been featured on sites such as BonAppétit and Saveur, and she has taught food photography workshops around the world. She is a doctor training to be a surgeon, but in her spare time she continues to cook.
An impressive collection of Shanghainese recipes...This handsome work is perfect for lovers of Chinese cuisine and for home cooks of all stripes. — Publishers Weekly
As a port city, Shanghai has had centuries of influence from a host of foreign cultures as well as from the rest of China. Liu, whose popular food blog has done much to promote Shanghai’s cooking, offers her take on the city’s food by categorizing its many dishes into the year’s seasons...Bright color photographs of finished dishes and step-by-step illustrations of techniques for complex forming of dumplings make recipes even more attractive. — Booklist
Photography of both the food and region is gorgeous and another way to travel without leaving home...the clear recipes in this rich collection will delight home cooks looking to explore flavors and cooking styles. — Library Journal
My Shanghai is a tour de force. — Boston Globe
My Shanghai contains everything I look for in a cookbook: personal storytelling, trustworthy information, new-to-me recipes that teach as much as they entice, and stunning photography that's instantly transportive. Betty Liu has raised the bar.
— Julia Turschen, author of Simply Julia and founder of Equity at the Table (EATT)
My Shanghai is a soulful homage...This book is a multi-sensory delight—the fresh, vibrantly seasonal flavors of her native Jiangnan cuisine are interlaced with heartfelt personal stories of growing up with her mother’s cooking, stunningly brought to life by Betty’s rich, immersive photography. It's a timely reminder of how much we still have to learn about the cuisines of China and deftly illustrates the power of culinary storytelling to transport us. A book to sit with, ruminate over, learn from, share with friends, and of course, cook a memorable meal from. This one is going straight on my "favorite cookbooks" shelf. — Hetty McKinnon, award-winning cookbook author, food writer, and editor of Peddler Journal
My Shanghai is a well-written cookbook about the home cooking of a family who stuck to its native cuisine notwithstanding immigration to the United States. Author and photographer Betty Liu eloquently tells the story of her family's food culture and that of their native Shanghai as she has experienced it. Through her prose and recipes, she makes the reader feel like a guest in her family kitchen learning to shop and cook with her and her elders, and then sharing the meal together. Betty's food styling and photography complete the package. We need many more cookbooks like My Shanghai. — Kristina Gill, co-author and photographer of Tasting Rome
So much more than a cookbook, My Shanghai is the book I’ve been waiting for. It’s filled with beautiful, personal stories and recipes that bring the vibrant, fresh, and seasonal dishes of the Jiangnan region to life. Paired with Betty’s captivating photography, I was instantly transported. A cover-to-cover read that allows readers to cook their way through the seasons, this is a book that’s sure to have the telltale food stains, notes, and wear of a well-loved companion. — Alana Kysar, author of Aloha Kitchen
Through family recipes and stories of the glittering city, My Shanghai will begin to fill a vacuum for cookbooks about China's vastly different regional cuisines, written by people who grew up cooking and eating them—like Liu. And the photographs are gorgeous. — Esquire
The best cookbooks, many would argue, are not just recipes—they're trips, stories, experiences. Betty Liu accomplishes all of those things, bringing the reader along on a year-long ride through Shanghai and its food. — Delish.com
As an international metropolis, Shanghai cooking has, more so than most Chinese cuisine, been influenced by traders from around the world. This is one of the few cookbooks that is dedicated to Shanghainese cooking, which includes regional dishes like Nanjing Salted Duck and Lion’s Head from the neighboring Yangtze river delta. — Reviewed.com
Taste, smell and experience the eccentric flavors of one of the oldest kitchens in the world: Shanghai’s. This retro-looking book guides you through the thrilling streets of the Chinese city based on 100 recipes. A feast for the eyes and taste buds. — Delicious Magazine
Organized by season, My Shanghai explores the dynamic, destination-worthy fare of one of the world's largest cities. Author Betty Liu transports readers to Shanghai through homestyle eats, many of which have been passed down through generations and reexamined with a modern lens. — Time Out
My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories from a City on the Water is a deeply personal title inspired by Betty’s parents and the food that she grew up eating. It highlights the seasonality of Shanghainese food, something ubiquitous in Chinese cooking but often not recognized in the Western world. — Cherry Bombe
Frankly, I haven’t been able to stop cooking from My Shanghai since I got it...I imagine I’ll keep coming back every season. — Eater