Friday, March 8, 2013

S is for shàng hǎi 上海

I picked Shanghai as today's topic because I believe some of the kids in the class will visit China in the near future. When foreigners visit China, a lot of them will land on Shanghai or choose to visit the city, which is the financial and commercial center of China and also the largest city by population. 23 million people live in Shanghai, almost 3 times of the population of New York city.

Shanghai sits on the Yangtze River Delta on China's eastern coast. It is one of the earliest Chinese ports opened to international trading. I showed them Shanghai's city skyline, which some of them saw before: Oriental Pearl Tower, Jinmao Tower, World Financial Center, the Huangpu River and numerous skyscrapers along the Bund. When I talked about the first commercially-used magnetic levitation train in the world, which was in use in Shanghai since 2004, they asked me all kinds of questions: How fast can it go? Is the whole train a huge magnet? Is it safe? Will people get dizzy on train? I hope some day they can take a ride on the train in Shanghai!

I miss Shanghai Xiao Long Bao so much! Although the class is familiar with how dumplings are made and what they look like, they never know Shanghai is so famous for its soup dumplings, also called Xiao Long Bao. The Shanghai dumplings consists of a ball of minced pork, wrapped in a pleated flour dough skin, which is then steamed. But every xiao long bao also holds a delightful surprise: there's a spoonful of hot soup, made from chicken or pork, sometimes both, inside.
Thanks to my mom, we had our first Xiao Long Bao making experiment! We took turn to make one, step by step following my mom's instruction, pinching the edges of the dough into pleats and pressing each pleat to seal the dumpling. Look at what we made! They said they looked like little pumpkins! I think they are right! Then we steamed them for 15 minutes. They came out perfect! Yumm! 

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