Hua Diao steamed Shanghai Hairy Crabs 花雕蒸大閘蟹

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It’s crab season again! After the “butter crabs” in August and “double-shell crabs” in September, it is now turn for the best – Shanghai Hairy Crabs. The real ones only come from YangCheng Lake in Jiangsu, even though there are farms in many places now due to the high demand. It is said that YangCheng Lake has a rocky bottom so the crabs are much cleaner and do not taste muddy as they would from other places.
Eating crab can be a pain for a lot of non-Asians as most don’t know how to disintegrate one properly, even with all the right tools one can end up with messy fingers, greasy face and a stained top, all for some mouthfuls of bony mix. But once the art of eating crab is mastered, there is no more spat out shards, ruined clothes and spotty face, and the fingers become the best part. The best crab dinner is at home with family or close friends, freshly cooked, with a nice sauce and see who can get the most intact piece of meat out.
We were lucky to get these no-hormone YangCheng Lake crabs, each bigger than my hand. The best way to kill them is to get them drunk in Chinese yellow wine – Hua Diao or to stick a chopstick in the mouth and straight through the brain quickly. Never buy dead Hairy Crabs as they spoil extremely quickly. In the case of steaming they must be placed belly up – this applies to any kinds of crabs – so all the good juices stay within the shell and intensifies the flavour.
Steaming mixture:

  • half a bottle of – Hua Diao wine
  • a few slices of – ginger
  • a very small handful of – Sichuan peppers

15 minutes after the liquid boils, then rest for 5 minutes. Steaming with this wine mixture instead of water gives the crabs a sweeter and warmer flavour, and keeps the “yoke” from tasting over-rich. The “yoke”, the greasy yellow (female) or white (male) paste when you open the crab up, is what Hairy Crabs are famous for.
Dipping sauce:

  • Zhejiang vinegar (It’s lighter and smoother than the Shanxi black vinegar, so it wont cover the flavour of crabs)
  • finely grated ginger

Mix together, easy as that. A bottle of warmed vintage Hua Diao wine is the best company for this feast, in Chinese medicine it is said crabs are “cold”, and warmed wine, ginger and peppers will bring it back to a neutral balance. There are 4 parts of crabs that shouldn’t be eaten though: the mouth and brain – these are all bony anyways, the lungs – possibility of parasites, and the stomach – it’s a little piece of star-shaped gray lump in the middle of the chest, can be hard to find to the untrained eye but it’s not a big matter if eaten by mistake.
Hairy crab is not about lumps of meat, it’s about slowly enjoying the tease of the taste buds. It may not be for everyone, but for the true crab lovers, it is an autumn ritual, the ultimate delicacy.

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又是大閘蟹時間!8月的黃油蟹和9月的重殻蟹之後,“九雌十雄”的大閘蟹就輪番到來。秋天真是幸福的季節啊!
大家都知道真正的大閘蟹來自陽澄湖,雖然現在很多地方都有養。聽說陽澄湖的湖底是碎石而不是淤泥,所以蟹特別的乾淨清甜,如果是其他地方產的蟹很多都會經過化學漂白。
吃螃蟹,尤其是大閘蟹貌似是很多非亞洲人士不能理解的東西 - 可憐的人們啊從小沒有人教他們吃蟹的技巧,從而錯過了這一人間美食。最美的蟹一定要在家裡吃,新鮮的蒸出來,和家人朋友溫馨地圍在一起,蘸著簡單而美味的醬汁,看誰能把蟹肉最完整的剝出來。
老公帶著這幾只比我手掌還大的無激素大閘蟹走進家門的時候我真幸福死了。馬上人道處決了它們(因為不夠花雕灌醉它們就用了快捷的“筷子入嘴”方法),肚皮向上蒸起來(這一點應該和“死蟹不能吃”一樣是常識吧,讓所有的蟹汁都留在殼里使味道更鮮美),旁邊再溫一壺陳年花雕,備上浙醋和細細的薑末。
蒸蟹:

  • 半瓶 花雕
  • 幾片 薑
  • 幾顆 花椒

水開後蒸15分鐘再悶5分鐘。用花雕來蒸蟹可以驅除蟹的寒氣,讓蟹肉更甜更嫰,蟹黃也沒那麼膩口。這又是一個西方人不能理解的東西:那又黃又膩的膏狀物真能吃嗎?甚至有朋友質疑過那是蟹的便便。事實上那是蟹的性腺,超高蛋白和營養的-當然了膽固醇也高。凡事不宜過量,偶爾吃吃還是好的。
蘸醬汁:

  • 浙醋
  • 細薑末

蟹有4個部位是不能吃的,除了大家都知道的嘴,腦和肺之外,還有胃-就是一顆灰色的四角星形的小東西,處在胸腔中間,有時候還蠻難發現的。不過胃聽說主要是因為寒涼的原因而不要吃,實在不小心吃了也不會怎麼樣。
大閘蟹就是要慢慢剝,慢慢品,就著一小口溫花雕,那個美呀。

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