Dear hairy crabs, I have waited for you for a year to be back. There are some things that I would have to wait for 300 days before I can savour again. One of which are the hairy crabs. These Chinese mitten crabs, which are Shanghai’s prized delicacy, only come during the days of Autumn.
Over at Min Jiang at Goodwood Park and One North, these hair crab creations are available from now till 30 November, not too long a period before they disappear back to the Yang Cheng Lake.
Min Jiang offers two special six-course set menus at $98++ and $118++ per person, for a minimum of two diners. If you have not tried these palm-sized creatures before, and am wondering “Why so expensive”, the Chinese can spend hundred of yuan just to have them. There are crabs, and there are craps – people would spend more to get their money’s worth for good quality ones.
My favourite version prepared by Master Chef Chan Hwee Kee is the Steamed Hairy Crab with Glutinous Rice Served in Lotus Leaves ($68++ each). For me, steaming works best for hairy crabs where the tastes and juices remain locked in, and the meat remains fresh and sweet. Imagine when some of the flavours of the crab meat flows and get absorbed by the glutinous rice.
Look at the rich bright orange roe – easily my favourite part in the entire crab. Do not remind me of the cholesterol level though. Just allow it to linger in your tongue while you relish the thick thick roe, a taste almost quite unforgettable. (I would best describe it as a texture similar to a creamy form of salted ice yolk but 10 times more delicate.)
The manager in charge Wai See was also skillful in cutting up the crustacean so you can eat it almost mess free. When I asked how long she trained for, she said “Ten years”.
The Baked Hair Crab Wrapped in Lotus Leaves is also a popular choice, while I did think that the smell of the leaves overpowered the true natural flavours of the crab at times.
For those who are too lazy to eat with your hands (how can?), you can have the Hairy Crab Meat and Row on Green Bean Noodles. I thought this is unusual take. These liang fen known as cold noodles eaten during summer is combined with this autumn treat, rather appetizing, especially when the crab meat braised with warm orangey starchy sauce sticks to the cool thin sheet noodles.
Reminder, these hairy crabs only come once a year. You really do not want to wait till next year again. Life is too short for messy regrets.
Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221, Tel: +65 6730 1704
Or Min Jiang at One North, No 5 Rochester Park
Opening Hours: 11am – 2:30pm (Lunch), 6pm – 10:30pm (Dinner)