Author: Joanna

Joanna Hutchins is a culinary travel blogger based in Shanghai, China.. In 2009, Joanna founded Accidental Epicurean, a culinary travel blog focused on Asia. Joanna is also a contributor to CNNGo, Look East magazine, SE Asia Globe and Two magazine.
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‘Tis the Season for Hairy Crab in Shanghai

It’s that time of year in Shanghai, from September to December, for hairy crab. Having  greatly enjoyed humongous Sri Lankan crabs when I lived in Singapore, these tiny (and frankly ugly) crustaceans took some getting used to. Because the crabs are so small and prickly – imagine a body the size of a fist, and legs like cacti – it takes some serious effort to pick them clean. But nobody seems to mind as the reward of sweet, delicate flesh and creamy roe makes it all worthwhile.

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Paul Pairet – the culinary genius behind Ultraviolet, Shanghai’s hottest dining destination

Never before has food been so revered, so playful, so engaging and so inspiring as it is at Ultraviolet. A longtime fan of Paul Pairet and his game-changing helmsmanship at Jade on 36 and most recently Mr. & Mrs. Bund, I couldn’t wait to try Ultraviolet and talk to Chef Paul about his mad new experimental journey with food. In fact, I interviewed Chef Paul about two years ago and he spoke of his intentions for Ultraviolet. Frankly, I had a hard time grasping the idea of food presented together with a complete multi-sensory experience. Could music and imagery catapult the dining experience to extraordinary new levels? After my Ultraviolet dining experience I can resoundingly say, “yes.”

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A homage to Xiao Long Bao – Chinese soup dumplings

Like many people, I first discovered xiao long bao in a famous Taiwanese restaurant called Din Tai Fung. I don’t usually eat in chain restaurants, but I do make an exception for this New York Times rated, Michelin starred eatery which is famous for its xiao long bao. And so after first experiencing the steamy, soupy, pork-filled wonders of xiao long bao for the first time, I became obsessed. Now, it is one of those things I must have weekly or somehow I feel deprived.Xiao long bao means “small steaming purse or basket” in Mandarin, which is a very factual description of a magical dish. These dumplings are traditionally filled with small pork meatballs (although you can find chicken, vegetable and seafood nowadays), and are encased in a thin, translucent dumpling shell with a savory broth within.

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Mother-In-Law’s Recipe for Turkish Kofte

There was a time when I was married to a lovely Turkish man and that meant summers in Turkey. His mother was as obsessed about kitchen arts as I am. As such, I learned how to make a great many wonderful Turkish meals while in their open air kitchen on the Aegean Sea. And among my favorites is her recipe for Kofte – grilled lamb or beef kabobs. This recipe is something between comfort food and the exotic ethnic food that if prepared for friends, never fails to impress.

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Three Hearty Salad Recipes for Dinner Tonight

butternut squash kale cannellini salad

I never used to enjoy salads. Really. Where I grew up in the U.S. they always seemed so blah….iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges and such. But as an adult I became a salad fanatic. Why? Because I discovered main course salads can be so much more than lettuce and other assorted veggies. I love roasted vegetable salads, salads with beans and lentils, salads with crunchy seeds and nuts and anything featuring cheese like feta or haloumi. And nowadays, salad often features as a go-to dinner for me on an average weeknight. So, I am sharing with you my three favorite hearty salad recipes for dinner tonight.

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You Si, the Painter that Paints Without a Brush

I had the opportunity to meet with You Si in Shanghai, China at an art gallery event. I was talking in a group that kept expanding and suddenly I found myself talking to a lively Chinese man with an infectious smile and lots of stories to tell. We established early in the conversation that we both used to live in New York and then we bonded over shared memories of the “city that never sleeps.” As it turns out my new cocktail companion was You Si, a Chinese artist who had moved to New York and lived there for more than two decades but had in recent years moved back to China to live in Shanghai. When I asked, “is any of this work yours?”, he replied, “no, none of this is my work, I am a guest tonight just like you.”

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Style expert tells how to get the best from custom tailors in Asia

Have you been to one of the ubiquitous tailors in Asia, perhaps in Singapore, Hong Kong or Thailand, or even Vietnam and China? Have you ever left less than satisfied? I have. Until I met Anthony Moynihan. Anthony is a fashion stylist extraordinare based in Shanghai, China. He has worked for top Asian fashion magazines, styled music videos and ad campaigns, created his own line of couture sold in Japan, done custom designs for Japanese pop stars and has helped many a client and friend learn how to look their best.

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A beer lover’s guide to Shanghai

In Shanghai, there has been a sudden and recent explosion of “boutique” beer bars and microbreweries. It appears that for both locals and foreigners alike, the current drinking trend is beer. However, this is not just your average easy drinking beer like Tsingtao or a local pilsner. Everyone is mad for premium, imported brews–the harder to find and more unusual the better. While the classic Paulaner beer gardens of Shanghai remain respectably busy, the places that are really packing them in are exactly these “boutique” beer bars and microbreweries.