My Short lived Hairy Crab Season
I was 7 when I had my first taste of crabs. I had a pincer of a flower crab. A few hours later I broke out in hives and never touched a flower crab again. Thankfully, mud crabs, snow crabs, Alaskan crabs and my recent venture with Hairy crabs have not left me with red patchy blotches on my skin.
The hairy crab starts 10 days after the Mooncake festival. Starting from September through most of autumn, the gourmands come out with their mean crab scissors and crab meat pickers looking for the pregnant female hairy crab and the sweet fleshed male. I had my first “snip and pick” at my first hairy crab at Lei Garden during a dim sum lunch last week. Having shared the crab with a few others, the rich lava like roe only whet my appetite for more of those little crustaceans and so agreed to sign up for a special culinary class on authentic Shanghainese cuisine at the Raffles Culinary Academy by Chef Calvin Soh – Combination of Shanghai Cold Platter(Drunken Chicken, Herbal Tea Egg and Marinated “Fen Pi”), Steamed Shanghai Hairy Crab, Herbal Shanghai Hairy Crab and Tong Tsui (Double Boiled Hashima with Chinese Angelica and Red Date) roe enriched Shanghainese Hairy Crab – featuring the Shanghainese Hairy Crab.
Although the hairy crab season only ends in December, after that culinary lesson and dinner, my hairy crab hunting season has been abruptly cut short. On the 5th November, 2005, after a grueling 1 ½ hours of snipping legs and pincers, I devoured two whole hairy crabs by myself – a steamed Shanghai Hairy Crab and an Herbal Shanghai Hairy Crab. I was so clumpy with the scissors and the crab eating apparatus, such that as they announced, “ok, finish up your first crab because the second one is on its way”, I had only finished picking the meat from ¾ of my crab and I had to snip of the plates onto the second plate of crab. The meat was sweet and the roe was rich, but it took too much from me, I’m retiring from this hairy crab season.