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Shanghai Hairy Crab Season: When and Where to Enjoy the Best Crabs

Shanghai Hairy Crab season is a much-awaited time of the year for locals and tourists alike. This seasonal delicacy is a must-try for anyone visiting Shanghai during the months of October and November.

The Shanghai Hairy Crab is famous for the sweetness of its meat and its orange-yellow roe. Female crabs are more prized than their male counterparts as they are supposed to taste sweeter and have more roe.

The culinary scene in Shanghai during Hairy Crab season is all about this delicacy. You can find them in every market and restaurant at this time of year. They are even sold in vending machines at subway stations in nearby Nanjing.

The best way to enjoy Hairy Crabs is to pair them with a warmed glass of Shaoxing Yellow Wine and add a salted plum to your cup too. Don't forget to pull out the meat from those itchy legs; they are arguably the best part!

Key Takeaways

  • Shanghai Hairy Crab season is a must-try for anyone visiting Shanghai during the months of October and November.
  • The Shanghai Hairy Crab is famous for the sweetness of its meat and its orange-yellow roe. Female crabs are more prized than their male counterparts.
  • The best way to enjoy Hairy Crabs is to pair them with a warmed glass of Shaoxing Yellow Wine and add a salted plum to your cup too.

Understanding Shanghai Hairy Crab Season

A table set with steaming crab dishes, surrounded by eager diners in a bustling Shanghai restaurant during hairy crab season

If you are planning a trip to Shanghai during the autumn months, you are in for a treat. This is when the city celebrates the annual Hairy Crab Season, a time when locals and tourists alike indulge in one of the region's most prized delicacies.

Significance of the Season

Hairy Crab Season is a significant event in Shanghai's culinary calendar. The crabs are highly sought-after for their sweet and delicate flesh, as well as their prized roe.

These crabs are only found in select locations, with the most famous being Yangcheng Lake, located just outside the city. The season typically runs from September to December, with the peak of the season occurring in October and November.

Peak Times and Lunar Calendar

The timing of Hairy Crab Season is determined by the lunar calendar, which is why the dates change from year to year.

The season usually begins in the ninth lunar month and ends in the eleventh lunar month. The peak of the season is typically in the tenth lunar month, which falls between mid-October and mid-November.

During this time, restaurants throughout the city offer special menus featuring the crabs, and street vendors can be found selling buckets of live crabs.

Harvesting the crabs is a delicate process that requires careful timing. The crabs are harvested when they are at their plumpest and most succulent, which is typically during the full moon in the tenth lunar month.

The crabs are then cooked and served fresh, making this a truly seasonal delicacy that cannot be enjoyed at any other time of the year.

Culinary Delights and Traditions

Shanghai's hairy crab season: steaming baskets, fragrant ginger, and eager diners cracking shells at bustling outdoor markets

Shanghai Hairy Crab season is not only a time for indulgence, but it is also a time to experience the traditional preparation methods and cultural significance that come with this delicacy. Here are some of the culinary delights and traditions that you can expect during this season.

Traditional Preparation Methods

Steamed Crab is the most common and traditional way to prepare Shanghai Hairy Crab.

The crabs are often steamed with ginger tea and Huangjiu, a type of Chinese rice wine. The ginger tea helps to balance the richness of the crab meat, while the Huangjiu adds a subtle sweetness to the dish.

Famous Shanghai Hairy Crab Dishes

Xiaolongbao is a famous Shanghai dish that is often served during Hairy Crab season. These soup dumplings are filled with minced pork and a small amount of crab meat, making them a perfect accompaniment to the steamed crabs.

Another popular dish is the Crab Roe Xiaolongbao, which is made by adding crab roe to the dumpling filling.

Pairing with Beverages

When it comes to pairing beverages with Shanghai Hairy Crab, there are several options.

Rice vinegar is a traditional choice that helps to cut through the richness of the crab meat. Champagne and white wine are also popular choices, as they complement the delicate flavour of the crab.

To enhance the flavour of the dipping sauce, add a pinch of sugar and some finely chopped ginger. The dipping sauce is typically made with soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Shanghai hairy crab season: A steaming pot of crabs surrounded by eager diners, with a sign reading "Frequently Asked Questions" in the background

When is the best time to enjoy hairy crab?

The best time to enjoy hairy crab is during the autumn months, typically from September to November. This is when the crabs are at their plumpest and most flavorful.

Where can you find the finest hairy crab in Shanghai?

Shanghai is famous for its hairy crabs, and you can find them at many restaurants and food stalls throughout the city.

Some popular places to try include Huang Ji Yang Cheng Hu Da Zha Jie Zhuan Mai Dian, Cheng Long Hang Xie Wong Fu, and Xie Xie.

How much does a typical hairy crab dish cost?

The cost of a hairy crab dish can vary depending on where you go and what you order.

Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from 100 to 500 yuan for a meal featuring hairy crab.

Can you recommend a restaurant in Shanghai known for its hairy crab?

If you're looking for a restaurant in Shanghai that is known for its hairy crab, you might want to try Canton Table.

This playful Cantonese restaurant inside Three on the Bund has gotten into the spirit of hairy crab season, offering a special menu that features the delicacy in a variety of dishes.

What should you look for when selecting a quality hairy crab?

When selecting a quality hairy crab, you should look for crabs that are lively and active, with shiny shells and a fresh, oceanic scent.

The crab meat should be firm and sweet, and the roe should be bright orange and plentiful.

What makes the roe of a hairy crab so special?

The roe of a hairy crab is considered a delicacy because it is rich, creamy, and packed with flavor.

It is also said to have numerous health benefits, including boosting the immune system and improving brain function.