Every year around this time you’ll see chiller cabinets in seafood shops displayed full of hairy crabs tied with straw rope neatly arranged.
For the past 4 years living here my friends have always arranged hairy crab dinner gatherings professionally prepared by restaurants. But this year, we decided to buy ourselves and experience cooking it on our own.
We tried out the HKTVMall app, you may have seen advertised around MTR stations. This is a one stop shop similar to Groupon but without the time limited deals! From daily groceries and fresh seafood to home and beauty products. Once in the app click on the Supermarket section and scroll to the Hairy Crab Fever section.
We chose the cheapest deal which came in at $28 per crab, you can choose male or female crabs, the difference being the consistency of the roe. Male tends to be more liquid whilst female roe is firmer. The only complaint I have with the deal is you need to print out one coupon per crab you purchase so for us that’s 20 sheets of paper to be scanned by the person making the delivery.
The crabs (still live!) were delivered direct to my door along with all the essential condiments to eat hairy crab including vinegar, ginger and perilla leaves.
Luckily, my in laws had a 3 layer steamer pan (not excessive if you have 20 crabs to steam)! If you fancy trying this out yourselves then no need to run out and buy layers of steamers, just use what you most likely have already; a large pan with a lid, a steamer stand and a plate that will fit inside the pan and you’re all set.
First things first, boil a pan of water with the steamer stand and plate already inside then use the leaves that came with the crabs to line the plate and place the crabs on top and cover with the lid. Depending on the size, steam the crabs for 15-20 minutes then DONE!
Actually the eating part doesn’t get easier, to be honest this is definitely a delicacy if you’re not that into the creamy texture of crab roe and more effort than crab meat then this may not be for you. My thoughts initially but year after year it’s almost become a tradition and plus you’re meant to finish off the meal with some Shaoxing wine (and ginger tea)!
Verdict: Definitely worth a try to buy and cook yourself since it’s cheap and everything is provided in terms of condiments and even the scissors/ meat poking out tools.
Happy Hairy Crab eating!