Hairy crabs are in season again, and you know what that means, don’t you? Well, that means winter is on its way! Begone, days of insufferably humidity and searing heats of summer! You will NOT be missed.
Okay, now that my rant about summer is over, I can get back to my lovely hairy crabs. You need no introduction about the local customs of eating hairy crabs. But what you need to know this year is how to have it on the cheap.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for austerity measure. In times of economic hardship when even the Chinese powerhouse is posting a “decline in performance”, one should be cautious about luxury spending. That includes burning $500 a pop for hairy crabs. You can easily have great crabs right at home. In fact, I have never had hairy crabs in restaurant before; I had always cooked at home.
All you need to do is to get crabs of the price you like to pay at shops like Old San Yang. Typically I will go for for those priced between $50-$100 each, and at that price I am comfortable to have 2-3 in one seating. If you are unsure on what hairy crabs to buy, ask the friendly shop owner. At different time during the hairy crab season, you should either get the male crab, or the female crab… I forgot which is which! Along with your crab purchase, usually you’ll get other necessity too, like herbs, gingers, vinegar, Chinese wine and sour plum.
Steaming the crab is easy peasy, though you do need a big pot. First, clean your crabs with a toothbrush, especially the hairy part. Then you dump the packed herbs into the water:
Next, place your crabs into the pot, with the belly facing up. You can also put a slice of ginger onto of the belly to remove the “fishiness” smell. And next… wait. While you wait, sliced the ginger and add some vinegar for taste.
The water will boil, the crab will be steamed, and 15 minutes later, VOILA! Your crabs are ready!
By now your hair crabs will be golden in colour, with the beautiful roe oozing all over the shell. While you cook your next batch of crabs, tuck in.
There is something amazingly social when eating hairy crabs with friends. Of course, if you don’t like all the hassle, you can always get your wallet going at some of the best Chinese restaurants in town.
Oh, I can’t wait for my next round of hair crabs!
Old San Yang
G/F, 4 Pak Sha Road