Gut it out: Shanghai fish market tutorial

Gut it out: Shanghai fish market tutorial

Insider’s guide to landing the best catch at Tongchuan Lu
Tongchuan Lu Shanghai Fish Market
Right from the tank to your plate, it's as simple as that.

One of Shanghai's biggest fish markets, the 24-hour Tongchuan Lu sells the freshest seafood in the city.

Alongside lively locals and pungent aromas, you can bag an array of live fish to take home, or straight to one of the market's local dining haunts to be cooked up.

What to buy

Faced with a sea of vendors on arrival at this fish market, it’s hard to know where to start. Our advice? Take a deep breath and dive in.

Get the freshest seafood around by buying your own live fish at the Tongchuan Fish Market. Then take it straight to one of the local dining haunts to be cooked up.

Part of the fun is wandering the stalls, browsing the live offerings, dodging fish entrails and being grateful you didn't wear open-toed shoes.

Prices at local wet markets are determined by weight, per 500 grams ("jin" in Mandarin). Shop around and bargain hard. You’ll find many of the stalls carry similar selections so keep scouring if one doesn't meet your price point.

If you are a foreigner, expect higher prices -- the foreigner "tax" applies as much here as anywhere. Prices vary according to supply and season.

For lobster lovers, the ao long xia (blue-spotted lobsters from Australia) and hong long xia (American red lobsters) are good catches. Although priced upwards of RMB 270 per jin, it's much less than you’d pay elsewhere.

The small abalone (bao yu) will run you around RMB 30 per jin, and Canadian crabs (zheng bang xie), probably one of the best buys at this market, is pegged around RMB 55 per jin.

Vendors say some of the best choice here are Napoleon fish (su mei, around RMB 880 per jin) and humpback grouper (lao shu ban) for around RMB 280 per jin.

More on CNNGo: Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market in action

Sashimi lovers should source some salmon that, according to the chefs at local restaurant Shi Shao Cu, is so fresh it's best eaten raw.

Another tip from the chefs: if a fish has already been killed, you can judge its freshness by the redness of the gills (the redder, the fresher) and the clarity of eyes (the clearer, the better).

Where to eat

There's a slew of restaurants along Tongchuan Lu and around the corner on Lanxi Lu that’ll cook your catch to your liking for around RMB 10 per jin.

Two of our favorite restaurants near Tongchuan Fish Market are Shi Shao Cu and Xin Jiulong Tang.

At the former, if you avoid peak times, you can ask the manager to help you buy your fish in the market at no additional cost.

It does take some of the fun out of the experience, but it's advisable if you don't entirely trust your own seafood selection capabilities.

More on CNNGo: Best markets in Shanghai

Shanghai Tongchuan Fish Market (上海铜川路水产市场)
Tongchuan Lu, near Caoyang Lu
Open 24 hours


Shi Shao Cu
No. 5, 928 Tongchuan Lu, near Caoyang Lu
铜川路928弄5号, 近曹杨路
+ 86 21 6254 2348
9:30 a.m.-3 a.m.


Xin Jiulong Tang
920 Tongchuan Lu, near Caoyang Lu
铜川路920号, 近曹杨路
+86 21 6265 8977
10 a.m.-1:30 a.m.