Hairy Crab – From hate to love with UnTour

Hairy Crab season may be the most awaited food season in Shanghai. Everybody, everywhere at any time. The Hairy Crab, a sweat water crab, native to Yanchen Lake and other lakes in the Shanghai region, is, without doubt Shanghais favorite seafood. 

As true 上海人 apprentices that we are, we tried to eat the hairy crustaceans many times. However,  their meat stayed hidden from our toungs and chopsticks. After 3 years secretly watching us fail, Jamie and Kyle from UnTour finally decided to introduce a Hairy Crab Tour.

We meet our group of 8 at Xizang Lu. Jamie herself is our tour guide. We start the evening off with xiaolongbao, pork, pork and egg yolk, pork and crab, and pure hairy crab dumplings. Super delicious. Nothing more to say.

Next, we head east into the old town, towards the former city wall street and the Confucius Temple. We have not been here before and are appropriately excited. Jamie takes us to a true Shanghai institution, famous for their Huangjiu and their Shanghainese food. 

As the first dishes arrive, we taste ourselves through 5 kinds of Huangjiu between 15 years and age unknown. While the food is delicious, we are anxiously waiting for the main challenge, the hairy crab. 

Finally the crabs arrive. We will be tasked with one male and one femal crab each.

Jamie demonstrates how to eat the crab, its like watching an alchemist turn led into gold. Meat just pours out of the crab. Once she walks us through each step, it seems so simple that we wonder how we could have eaten the crabs any other way.

  1. Break legs and claws off and put aside
  2. Lift the bottom plate of. 
  3. From the butt, lift the top shell of. First meat can be found inside but beware to not eat the plasticy stomach.
  4. Remove gills (“deadmen’s fingers”)
  5. Place thumbs in indention of bottom plate and break the crab in half. Dip in vinager, suck meat and roe. Break further for more meat. 
  6. Cut legs at joints with siccors and push meat out with chopstick (claws are difficult to crack and yield little meat).

Its delicious and we can finally understand why Shanghainese go crazy for the Hairy Crab. However, its key to find high quality crab. Sh…y crab will not taste good, even if eaten correctly. Jamie took us to a great place, thanks for the experience.

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