A Hairy Gift from Shanghai 上海毛蟹

Yesterday was quite an adventurous night for me, food adventure that is! I had an appointment to go for food tasting which turned out to be very interesting indeed. I will blog about it tomorrow as this cannot wait. I was told to eat them asap 😀

WhatsApp messages:
“Are you at home?”
“Yup, why?”
“I’ve got crabs for you”
“Are they hairy?”
“Yuppuh!”
“Oh goodie! When are you coming?”
“In about 45 minutes.”
“I’m about to go out. I have a food tasting appointment.”
“I’ll leave it with your neighbour, but make sure you eat them today or they will shrink.”
“Okay. Thank you.”

Dinner ended at about 10.25pm and upon reaching home, I went to check with my neighbour.
“Did my help collect the crabs?”
“Yes she did. By the way, beautiful live crabs!”
“Live??? I better go. Thank you.”

My children got home about the same time I did. They’re in luck! I went straight to the kitchen and searched the fridge for the crustaceans where they were hibernating in the cooler drawer.

“Do we have Zhejiang vinegar?”
“Nope.”
“Do we have ginger?”
“Maybe.”

We found some ginger and made tea with them.

I gave the crabs a quick rinse under the tap. They started to spit (foam/bubbles) at the mouth. They were alive indeed!

I got the steamer ready with hot water. Once the water started fast boiling, I put on the crabs and kept a tight lid. It’s like boiling a live lobster except we steam these for 10 minutes (these were small ones, the bigger ones takes about 11 to 12 minutes). It’s that simple. It would have been great had we some vinegar and ginger strips. But we make do with what we had. Supper was ready. Spread out the newspaper… We’re having hairy crab feast!

I thought my friend was going to give me cooked crabs from a restaurant they were eating at.

I thought my friend was going to give me cooked crabs from a restaurant they were eating at.

Hairy Crabs from Shanghai. I did not realised that my friends had touched down in Singapore from Shanghai when one of them contacted me on WhatsApp.

Hairy Crabs from Shanghai.
I did not realised that my friends had touched down in Singapore from Shanghai when one of them contacted me on WhatsApp.

The cuneate shape on its belly denotes a male crab.

The cuneate (bell) shape on its belly denotes a male crab.

A quick rinse under the running tap is all the preparation.

A quick rinse under the running tap is all the preparation.

As these were small crabs, we do not need very long cooking time.

As these were small crabs, we do not need very long cooking time.

These took about 10-11 minutes to cook.

These took about 10-11 minutes to cook.

Each of these babies weigh around 250 grams and cost about SGD7 per piece. Remember we paid S$58 for one at Ah Yat's?

Each of these babies weigh around 250 grams and cost about SGD7 per piece. Remember we paid S$58 for one at Ah Yat’s?

Feasting time!

Feasting time!

Spread the news(paper), lol...

Spread the news(paper), lol…

Recalling how the servers at Ah Yat disjoin the crabs , I had to use kitchen shears instead of the special scissors they used at the restaurant.

Recalling how the servers at Ah Yat disjoin the crabs , I had to use kitchen shears instead of the special scissors they used at the restaurant.

I couldn't really detect the "heart" that we weren't supposed to eat but anything that looked like that whitish piece of rectangle, I discard.

I couldn’t really detect the “heart” that we weren’t supposed to eat but anything that looked like that whitish piece of rectangle, I discard.

There's a first time for everything and I think I did well. The presence of vinegar and yellow wine would be perfect but ginger water is fine too.

There’s a first time for everything and I think I did well.
The presence of vinegar and yellow wine would be perfect but ginger water is fine too.

Mitten crabs spend most of their life in fresh water, but they must return to the sea to breed. During their fourth or fifth year in late summer, the crustaceans migrate downstream, and attain sexual maturity in the tidal estuaries. After mating, the females continue seaward, overwintering in deeper waters. They return to brackish water in the spring to hatch their eggs. After development as larvae, the juvenile crabs gradually move upstream into fresh water, thus completing the life cycle. – Wikipedia

Hairy Crabs are seasonal. We only get to eat them once a year. Autumn is the time these crabs are harvested for sale. A couple more weeks from now is the best time to consume them.

Click here to see my recent post on Hairy Crabs at Ah Yat Abalone Forum Restaurant.

Enjoy the clip below on how the professional disassemble the crabs. The big platter of hairy crabs seemed to have cooled off in the video (not verified). Usually when we eat in a restaurant and have ordered more than one per person, the chef would cook one piece per person, He would time the next crab to be steamed just when you’re about ready for the second. The server disjoining the crabs have to work fast too, so that you can enjoy the creamy “caviar” warm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NczWEGWyts

Happy feasting 🙂

Comments
12 Responses to “A Hairy Gift from Shanghai 上海毛蟹”
  1. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Great, great post, Sam. Absolutely fantastic. You taught me so much about mitten crabs. Thank you!

  2. Gosh, i’m felling guilty just by reading this post…hehehe
    damn i’m loving the crab roe and tomalley…..
    btw, we do cover our table with unused newspaper before had a seafood fest too…..

  3. Lignum Draco says:

    Who else, but you, goes out to have dinner and then comes home to eat crabs? That calls for a second dessert and coffee too, doesn’t it?

  4. Kevin says:

    The crabs looks so cute. Nah.. Let’s eat them anyway 🙂

  5. Sofia says:

    They are so cute, poor things!!! Though I also know it was delicious…

    • Sam Han says:

      Yes they were delicious! But I think I have enough after this night. Oh well, maybe one more round and that’s it. Gotta take care of my cholesterol, lol…

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