Monday, August 6, 2012


Saturday night saw us headed out to Shanghai's fish market. We had been planning to go for some time but something had always got in the way. However, on Saturday nothing was going to stop us, even the possibility of heavy rain, which thankfully failed to appear. So my husband and two friends headed out to experience what was on offer.

The market is open 24/7 and the only piece of advice I was given was not to wear open sandals. Soon I realised why this was good advice, as everywhere people were washing pavements, slooshing away fish guts and whatever else was lying around. You had to be careful not to be on the receiving end of a hose, or bucket of water.  Not as gross as it sounds, honestly.

What happens is you purchase the fish you want, and take it to one of the many restaurants around the area where it will be cooked for you. You can of course take it home, but we chose to sit and enjoy a few drinks as the chefs prepared our catch.

The place was really busy and lively. There were what seemed like hundreds of open shopfronts filled with tanks of all kinds of fish and shellfish imaginable, and some unimaginable!. There were lobsters from Boston and Australia, crabs, clams, shrimp, flat fish round fish, salmon and fish and shellfish in all colours. Everyone was calling us in to see their produce. We had to haggle hard and soon we had bagged a lobster.

This was soon followed by crab, clams, ugly shrimp, which I think was a small langoustine. We also bagged a whole sole and headed to a restaurant to have it cooked. As it had been difficult to choose where to buy the fish, it was also difficult to decide what restaurant to choose, They varied from basic cafes to nice looking restaurants, we went to one which looked busy, bright and friendly.
As we waited for our food to arrive we laughed about one very strange seafood which was on sale everywhere, I have seen it on TV but could not think of what it was called but it certainly didn't entice us to buy and eat. I think you will see why from the picture, and if anyone does know the name of it please let me know.

The food soon arrived, lobster steamed in garlic and chives, it was delicious, the crab in a spicy sauce, simple cooked shrimp with just the addition of salt and pepper, little brown shrimp served with green beans, all really good. The flat fish steamed with soy sauce just fell off the bone. The clams a little disappointing, not a lot of meat in them, but what was there was delicious.

Spicy Clams
Steamed Lobster
Crab in Spicy Sauce
Flat Fish in Soy sauce

So as you can see everything looks good. But as much as the food was excellent the experience was a major part of the night.

We were probably the only non Asians around, and that brought us a lot of attention. Not, may I add negative attention, merely a curiosity. Everyone was friendly, eager to try out their English, and patient enough to listen and try and understand our limited Chinese. They happily posed for photos, and didn't object to me taking a lot of random photos. There was a great atmosphere, it was noisy, bustling,  and I really enjoyed being there.

I enjoy getting out of the city centre and out and about to places where the ex pats seldom go, although I am planning a girl's day out to the market in the near future. I know a few of my friends would also enjoy the experience we had. It is a safe and friendly environment, and maybe as Westerners we pay a little more than the locals, I don't really object as long as I feel I get value for money. These people are working very hard, and very long hours to put the fish on to the tables of restaurants not only in Shanghai but all over China, and I am sure to other parts of the world, so a few extra RMB's doesn't really hurt. 

So ever since Saturday night I have had my head buried in all my fish cook books, and hope to soon cook a seafood feast here at home. Of course I will have a few friends along to hopefully enjoy the evening with us.


  1. What a fantastic experience - the stuff dreams are made of!

    I think I'd be back every weekend!

  2. Don't think it will be too long before i go back.