Autumn is the best time to tour China as well as the peak season for an unmissable Chinese delicacy: the hairy crab. The hairy crab, scientifically called Chinese Mitten Crab, is known as one sort of the freshwater crab in China. It boasts the largest output as well as the most delicious taste in the Yangtze River water system. Among which the best hairy crabs come from Yangcheng Lake in Jiangsu Province near Shanghai.
Best time to enjoy hairy crabs
The season of hairy crabs starts from September, when female crabs are best, and continues through the end of the year, with male crabs offering the most succulent roe from mid-October on. Every year when autumn arrives and the crabs plump up, restaurants will stock them in huge numbers. Those cooking at home can buy live crabs, the little bundles bound up with bamboo strips, from supermarkets, specialty stores and even street vendors.
Popular recipes for hairy crabs
Steaming is the most classical way to cook the hairy crab, intended mainly to highlight the original flavor of the crab and preserve, to the utmost, its appearance, aroma and taste. Steamed crabs take on an orange color and taste fresh and delicious.
Spicy Salt Crabs is another popular crab dish that goes well with Chinese yellow rice wine. The cooking steps are much more complicated than steamed crabs. Cut fresh and clean crabs into pieces. Marinate them for a couple of minutes in shallot, ginger and cooking wine. Coat them in flour paste and then fry them till they turn golden yellow. Afterwards, braise them attentively with ginger, shallot, salt and soy sauce.
How to eat hairy crabs
As early as in the Ming Dynasty, skillful craftsmen invented a complete set of utensils for eating a crab. Nowadays the eight utensils, altogether entitled the Eight-Piece Set, refer respectively to a round-waist hammer, little square table, forceps, long-stalked axe, spoon, long-stalked fork, scraper, and needle. These tools are usually made of copper or silver.
One should follow the certain steps while eating crabs with the Eight-Piece Set. Firstly, place the crab on the round board and cut off two pincers and eight claws with scissors. Then, strike the shell with the round-waist hammer. Afterwards, split the back shell with the long-stalked axe. Finally, take out the crab spawn, cream as well as meat, and then enjoy them with seasonings in the little spoon.