Hairy Crabs Take Over Shanghai

Hairy Crabs have arrived…they are everywhere in Shanghai.  Whether on menus in the nicest restaurants (who also have an obsession with bullfrogs as an entrée so all bets are off) as well as on the back streets of the city.  I’m sorry but anything with “hairy” is not making it’s way onto my dinner plate.  But Thom is more adventuresome than me so who knows–I’ll keep you updated!

You can even buy the supposedly sweet delicacies in vending machines now in China:


The hairy crab is known as one sort of the freshwater crab. The freshwater crab, with Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis) as its scientific name, is widely distributed along the long coastline from Liaohe River in Northern China to Zhujiang River in the South. Moreover, it boasts the largest output as well as the most delicious taste in the Yangtze River water system. Exteriorly, the freshwater crab is characterized by a green back, a white abdomen, golden claws and yellow setae. Generally speaking, the hairy crab refers specifically to Eriocheir sinensis from the Yangtze River water system, among which, that from the Yangcheng Lake enjoys the best reputation.

The history of Chinese eating crabs dates back to as early as the Western Zhou Dynasty. As recorded in both Zhou Rites and Zi Lin (a reference book on philology) in the Jin Dynasty, the history lasts 2700 years or so. It is around the Mid-Autumn Day every year that the hairy crab is gradually on the market. It can be cooked in various ways, such as steaming, water boiling, flour coating and wine preserving. Talking of the hairy crab from Yangcheng Lake specifically, it is usually steamed, boiled and shelled before being eaten. Ever since the ancient times, eating crabs has been a refined pleasure which requires careful study. Imagine the tangerine crab cream, white jade-like grease, white and tender meat. Isn’t it delightful to eat them dipped in sugar, vinegar and ginger powder while inviting a couple of intimate friends for cups of good wine? Besides, it will be of a distinctive flavor to pick out crab meat and make with it noodles or steamed buns. Li Bai, a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty, once wrote in his poetry about the bliss of having good wine and delicious food while savoring crabs.

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