Autumn marks the start of the hair crab season. This prized delicacy is a seasonal treat, and the best time to have your annual dose of hairy crab is… now!
Why the big craze?
If you are a hairy crab rookie, well, this gourmet Chinese delicacy was first introduced in Shanghai and Suzhou hundreds of years ago. They are named for their trademark furry pincers and they are only available during the autumn around late September, ending around early November (during the ninth and tenth lunar months of the Chinese calendar). The creamy roes of hairy crabs mature during these months and it is also during this time when they migrate from their original freshwater habitat toward the ocean where they are hunted by fishermen along the river deltas.
The most coveted-after hairy crabs are sourced from the Yangcheng Lake along Suzhou in the Jiangsu Province, with prices going as high as $140 per kilogram!
What does a hairy crab taste like?
There is a reason why the Chinese are so in love with this delicacy. The hairy crab’s flesh is famed for its sweetness, with the female crabs costing slightly more because of their luxurious buttery golden roe.
The traditional, and also best way to prepare hairy crabs is simple — steam the crab and pair them with a dip of minced/sliced ginger, soy sauce and brown vinegar.
Aside from the traditional method, Chinese restaurants also come out with modern dishes using hairy crabs as the main ingredient. You can explore decadent hairy crab dishes like crabmeat congee, braised hairy crab and even hairy crab dumplings!
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the flesh of the hairy crabs has cooling properties (yin 陰) and thus, they should always be consumed with warming (yang 陽) foods like Chinese yellow wine (黃酒 huangjiu) and ginger.
Of course, the team at UrbanFindr recommends an East meets West way to enjoy your hair crabs! Check out this full-bodied bottle from 1000 Stories. Or, if you like your red wines more intense, you are going to fall in love with this bottle from Quinta do Zambujeiro.
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