Where in the world is this?
Shanghai Hairy Crab
In Hong Kong, now is the season for Shanghai hairy crab – typically from September through to late November.
In and around Causeway Bay in Hong Kong and elsewhere around the territory, you are now likely to find people queuing up to buy these delicacies.
If you want get an idea of price, note the details on the signboard on the right – that’s in Hong Kong dollars per unit weight. To buy the crabs individually, the price is on the tags for each batch.
Male crabs, being smaller, are usually cheaper. Higher prices are paid for the usually larger females of the species, especially those packed with roe.
The Shanghai hairy crab, also known as the Chinese mitten crab [Eriocheir sinensis], is native to the seaboards of eastern Asia and is typically found in the riverine estuary systems in this region – specifically in and around the Yangtze River estuary.
They are called hairy crabs because of the dense patches of dark hair on their claws.
While available almost all the year round, the height of the hairy crab season is in the late summer. As a sort after delicacy, the main attraction for the Shanghai hairy crab, is their sweet meat and their creamy and buttery golden roe.
The crabs are especially sort after during their two month spawning season, usually between September and November. This is a time when these crabs are ready to breed and when the females come into estrus. Because of this small time frame and limitations of ready supply, this makes this delicacy particularly coveted and expensive.
When prepared for sale, the crabs are bound up using river grass. The creatures are usually kept chilled and moist before they are sold.
How you choose to cook and eat these delicacies varies. Stir fried seems to be the usual way. Steaming them is another.
TECHNICAL NOTES: This image was taken with a Canon EOS 1D MkII using a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM lens.
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originally written and posted on 121026 – reposted on 190119 – revised on 230323.