It’s the time of the orange ten-legged beasts as we enter the cooler mists of autumn. Hairy crabs are the stuff of history and legend- Li Bai, fabled poet of the Tang dynasty, writes in his poems of the bliss of having good wine and delicious food while savouring crabs. Eating crab can be documented even as far back as 2,700 years ago in the Western Zhou Dynasty, recorded in both the Zhou Rites and Zi Lin books- steamed, boiled, coated in flour or preserved in wine, the ways of relishing crab is innumerable.
Shanghai Min, one of Hong Kong’s most exclusive Shanghainese restaurant groups, continues on this ancient tradition with their innovative gastronomic twist using these giant crustaceans. Steamed Hairy Crab with Fermented Glutinous Rice Wine Sauce is a prepared by steaming crabs with salted meat, preserved meat slices, rice wine sauce and shad (herring) sauce- the latter enhancing the flavour of the hairy crab and salted meat.
Another new dish is Fresh Water Crab Cream Served with Oatmeal Roll, which stir-fries the crab cream with eggs, ginger juice and condiments, serving it with homemade oatmeal rolls. Popping Rice in Soup with Crab Meat is deep fried dried rice served crackling in crab roe and crab meat broth with chopped Shanghai cabbage.
However, traditional roots are not forgotten with the Steamed Shrimp & Fresh Water Crab Cream with Egg White Custard, Stone-grilled Fresh Water Crab Cream Rice and Fresh Water Crab Cream & Pork Soup Buns. These classic dishes reflect the culture and historic appreciation of these prodigious creatures of the lakes and seas.
As Li Bai says, “The autumn air is clear/The autumn moon is bright”- do not miss your chance this season to enjoy and truly savour the taste of Chinese culture.