BootsnAll Travel Network

All About Crabs: Shanghai Hairy Crab – 大闸蟹 “九雌十雄”

One of the best things for me to live in Shanghai is to be able to eat Hairy Crab (毛蟹) from every late Autumn to early Winter, or even to Chinese New Year – Spring. The name “hairy crab” is generated from the outlook of this fresh water grown crab – many small hairy on the crab legs. Its official name is Chinese mitten crab. The better quality of the fresh water, the better the crab. By review and word of mouth, the most famous hairy crab is Yangchenghu (HCH, 阳澄湖) Hairy Crab which is from the name of a lake. Don’t be surprised if you are see all hairy crabs are advertised as “yangchenghu hairy crab” in free markets, in restaurants or in supermakets.
Yuyuan Garden

A decoration of fariy crab harvesting scene in Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai

How to find native Yangchenghu hairy crab, but not fake or “immigrated” ones? Here are a few tips I come up which are not 100% guarantee:

1. Go to YangchengHu city. The chance you encounter a native HCH crab in local is at least 50% higher than in non local place.

2. Go to high end restaurants which care for their reputations. There your chance to eat a real HCH crab is very high, if you are not worried about $$$. It is not uncommon that they will sell you a 250g crab for $40. If you are in Hong Kong or Beijing (places that are far away from Shanghai), you might need to pay for the air ticket for the crab.

3. Go to your Chinese friends and ask for their “relationship” (Guangxi). This is my approach. My ancle has some clients who have very close and good relationships with HCH crab growners. I am 99% sure that I eat the REAL HCH crabs. A “guangxi” is likely to cheat you in other stuff, not food!

4. Research and find the certification labels stick onto the crabs in markets. I have to warn you that the cost to make a label can be extremely low in China.

hariy crab, yangchenghu crab

These are well cooked crabs with certification label on it. The best and easiest way to cook crab is to simplily steam them for 15 minutes (8) with source made of soy bean souce, vinegar, suger and minced ginger.

Can you tell the difference between the two crabs on the right image? 🙂 The upper on is a femail crab and the lower one is a male. Keep the following saying in mind if you are as serious about hairy crab as I am ”September Female,October Male”. The best season to have female crabs is September in Chinese lunar calendar and October for male crab. To keep it simple, 2 weeks after Mid Autumn Festivel is the best season for female crab!

This is a male hairy crab! Now it is the right season for it! YUMMY…


Update on Dec. 17, 2007:

Shanghai Hairy Crab prices in Shanghai Hongqiao Airport

Tags: , ,

4 responses to “All About Crabs: Shanghai Hairy Crab – 大闸蟹 “九雌十雄””

  1. […] Grigo presents All About Crabs: Shanghai Hairy Crab posted at Wondering with Wind, saying, “A blog post about delicious Shanghai hairy crab, a local crab. The post introduced what is hairy crab, how to eat the real crab and when is the best season for it.”   Hard to find, but worth it! […]

  2. Gudrun says:

    Great post about the Shanghai Hairy Crab – I am sorry I missed this delicacy when I visited! I love to hear about local food, and look forward to a future trip to China when I can try this local crab. Thank you!

  3. mo says:

    can you advice one or two nice places to go and try this treat in shanghai?

  4. Grigo says:

    I can’t think of any particular place. In fact, you can find it in almost all the restaurants in Shanghai from late September to late November. We usually buy them from the market and steam at home. The cooking process is very simple for fairy crab.

    However, if you don’t want the hassle to try it with 10 fingers of your hands, you can try a dish called “Toufu with Crab Meats “. You should be able to find it at restaurants like South Beauty, Shanghai Spring.

Leave a Reply

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