Hairy crabs are taking over Hong Kong tables

You’re not a true Hong Konger until you’ve feasted on hairy crabs in season. And the season already! Considered an invasive species in Europe and the United States, the hairy crab, from its scientific name Chinese Erioheira, little consumed outside Asia. Hairy crab is very far from a protected species, and its meat is very tasty, you can unscrupulously let this local curiosity go.

hairy crab, kezako ?

in shanghai crab also called Chinese mitten crab because his front darts seem to be provided with very thick gauntlets. It is a medium-sized crab that lives in rivers and coastal areas from Korea to southern China. Depending on sexual maturity, it lives in salt or fresh water. It is also a great traveler that can climb rivers up to 1400 km.

Bristle crabs have previously made several uncharted flights across the oceans, and the British saw a bristle crab swim out of the River Thames in 1995. Some of the crabs were frolicking in Scottish waters, others were still in the pools. American crabs look at this competition very badly and protect the waters of the Hudson River with teeth and nails (more precisely, pliers). On the European side, it was the Germans who invaded, the damage to local wildlife, nets and dams was estimated at 80 million euros.

At the end of the food chain, crabs tend to accumulate heavy metals (mercury, cadmium). Therefore, it is recommended that you choose your suppliers carefully to consume farmed rather than wild crabs. The most famous are the Yangcheng Lakes near Shanghai. The industry is not protected from counterfeiters, and blockchain (no less) came to the rescue of crabbers: laser tags, prints, barcodes should allow identification of crabs that have not lived long enough in Yangchen Lake. The mafia is never far away. A real basket of crabs!

Crabs on steamed rice, small bowl of green vegetables (Image credit: Flickr, Leslie)

Where to eat it?

In Hong Kong, we don’t care about quality. Never say never, but so far, despite the rampant consumption, our field research has never resulted in food poisoning. The rule of three in food safety is: go where the locals go, trust the smells of the food, and vary the pleasure. Choose an institution successfully and… relax! Restaurant owners and consumers in Hong Kong are known to be wealthy and fine gourmets, so they are sold the best crabs in Yangchen.

It should also be noted that a significant proportion of mainland Chinese living in Hong Kong originate from the Shanghai region. This is why Hong Kongers feel a certain nostalgia for this Shanghai dish.

Hairy crabs are eaten in autumn, primarily because at this time the crabs are full and juicy. The second reason is that September-November is a period of change of season. In traditional Chinese TCM medicine, eating crab is believed to have a cooling effect on the body (this is met yin). After all, why not?

Many restaurants offer crab feasts this season. Reservations are recommended as Hong Kongers are big fans. It is customary to order not just one crab, but the full menu to have a real crab feast. Allow yourself to be guided!

Stuffed crabs, crabs in soup, steamed crabs, crabs with chrysanthemums, crabs with green vegetables, fried rice with crabs, ravioli with crabs, scallops stuffed with crabs, risotto with crabs, each menu is different, but a little obsessive.

Allow yourself to be tempted by a yellow wine, also from the Shanghai region (wine Shaoxingwine huadiao). This is a low-alcohol wine that strongly resembles mulled wines (port wine). Sometimes it is served with lightly salted prunes. It’s quite strange, but goes really well with the crab.

For great addresses and special offers, go to the address Kluk. Kluk now has no less than 17 crab dishes in Hong Kong. You can eat in the restaurant or order delivery, as you choose.

You can also get inspiration from the following lists:

Hong Kong bristle crabs
Crab meat and corals with vegetables (personal photo)

Good manners

When you come to the first steamed crab during your meal, you will of course be a little intimidated. First of all, because of the hairs, which are a little out of harmony with the shell, and also because of the tools they give you: forget about the nutcrackers and other metal tools that are used to clean cakes and spiders in France.

You’ll be given a pair of small, pointed scissors, a tiny, very long spoon, and finger cleaners that will come to be desired over time.

Hairy crabs are smaller than our European crustaceans. Their shell is also much less thick and hard. Scissors will do. Be careful as these little crabs have sharp points and scissors also leave raw edges. Cut each small claw with scissors. Nothing complicated yet. Look at the small spoon: not only can you use it to scoop out meat, but its handle deftly penetrates even the smallest legs. In fact, you will be able to push the meat away from the legs. The body cuts quite easily and you can use a teaspoon to scoop out the flesh. Next is the question of motivation.

The crabs are served with a very sweet ginger sauce. This is a specialty of Shanghai cuisine, which is famous for its use of sugar. Do not forget to eat corals, they are very colorful and fragrant. Finally, don’t worry if you spend forever eating the first crab. The learning curve is very steep. On the third crab, you will compete with your neighbor at the table! Finally, rinse your fingers and, most importantly, do not worry about the condition of the tablecloth.

Crab is rich in iodine and phosphorus and is said to have aphrodisiac properties. Crabs do not stay alone for long.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *