… And it’s almost over! Nooooooo. To document what probably will be one of our last hairy crab meals this season, here’s last week’s dinner at home. You can find good-quality hairy crab at the finest hotels and restaurants, but it’s most foodies’ opinion that the best way to cook them is in your own kitchen! And it’s so easy too. First, untie them (be careful because fresh hairy crab should still be alive and may grab onto you, poor guys), brush them clean under running water, and put them in a steamer for about 25 minutes.
Hairy crab roe is a delicacy that tastes much like foie gras and other yolky yummy things like uni. There’s not as much meat in these babies because of their size, but it’s all about the roe! There are no words for how amazing it tastes, so let me just use pictures. The first picture below is of a female crab (their roe is more solid and there’s more of it), and the second picture is a male crab (their roe is more sticky but just as yummy in my opinion).
I’m usually not very good at dissecting seafood, but there’s really only 4 simple steps to getting to the hairy crab roe: 1) Lift the shell while it’s laying on it’s back, 2) enjoy the goodness under the shell with chopsticks or a spoon, 3) break the body in half and remove the lungs/gills which you’ll see immediately, and 4) enjoy the roe however you can!
Don’t forget to eat the legs too. You can easily break them in half and get some meat.
According to Chinese philosophy, the crab is a “cool” food whose cooling properties need to be balanced out by something with “hot” properties like ginger and vinegar. If you grew up in a Chinese household, you know what I’m talking about. So for the sake of your health and peace of mind now that I’ve told you, you should always dip your hairy crab meat in a mixture of diced ginger and Zhejiang black vinegar, which is available at most Chinese markets. A glass of white wine is always good with crab, but we had reds that night because we also had steak… Yes, the gluttony.
The next time you’re in Shanghai during the month of October, November, or December, getting your fix of hairy crab should be at the top of your list. Trust me, one won’t be enough!