A Shanghai Delicacy, Hairy Crab!?

Have you ever seen or even heard about a hairy crab?? Chinese people go crazy over these little hairy crustaceans. This fresh water creature is native to parts of Korea and China. The hairy crab is also known as the Dahza crab or Chinese mitten crab.  

I had this particular crab in Shanghai while I was on visit in October of 2008. My friends and I took a train from Shanghai to Wuxi. There we met up with my a local friend and toured the only city that I visited, that I actually consider beautiful in China. I mean beautiful in a environmental sense. Wuxi was on a huge lake, surrounded by lots of trees. The air, roads, buildings were much cleaner, and people seemed more environmentally conscious. We ended up getting about a dozen of these little guys and brought them back on the train to Shanghai. When we got back to our apartment our in home helper cooked them up for us. I had no idea how these were traditionally prepared.  She was so amazed that we had these crabs that she had never tasted before, and let alone have a dozen in right in front of her. 

These are a delicacy in this region of China from about September into December. Traditionally these are delicately steamed and then complimented with ginger pieces in a sweet vinegar. These crabs are completely different than what I'm used to back at home. For starters, the size is not the same. I'm used to huge Alaskan King Crabs, or local Dungeness Crab. But then I realized these are not salt water crabs, and that they are fresh water and about the size of my palm isn't too disappointing at all. Secondly, these little guys were a little more difficult to eat because of their size, and being covered heavily with tiny hairs didn't make the situation very pleasant. But as soon as I cracked open my first claw, dipped it into the vinegar, and savoured my first piece I was hooked. I now knew what all the hype was around this crab. The difference between the salt water and fresh water was very clear. The perfectly tender crab meat was so sweet and succulent it made me look at crab in a whole new light.

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