Saturday, November 18, 2006

Delicious hairy crabs

Delicious hairy crabs

ASKING Chinese gourmands what is the big fuss about hairy crabs is like asking the French why they go ga-ga over foie gras. Come late autumn, no food connoisseurs in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or even Malaysia will forgo the chance of savouring these distinctive grey-green crabs with furry claws.

This year’s hairy crab season has even clawed its way into international news headlines, triggered by a furore in Taiwan where a batch of hairy crabs was allegedly detected with nitrofuran, a cancer-causing agent. Consequently, this prompted a Chinese crab exporter to offer one million yuan (about RM469,000) to Taiwanese health inspectors who find traces of carcinogen in other hairy crab consignments as a measure to restore consumers’ confidence.

Steamed hairy crabsBack at the famed Yangcheng Lake in the Chinese eastern province of Jiangsu – home of the hairy crabs – counterfeit crabs appeared on the market despite numerous identification measures undertaken by the Yangcheng Lake Crab Farmers Association. In Hong Kong, a thief was nabbed by local police after he tried unsuccessfully to pinch 70 of these gourmet crabs worth a princely US$1,280 (RM4,736) from a restaurant.

These incidents only served to elevate the snob appeal of these pricey creatures. According to The Asian Wall Street Journal food writer, Stan Sesser, some Hong Kongers have even gone to the extent of eating hairy crabs “tycoon-style” – consuming only the orange-hued roe without eating the rest of the crab. Which is truly a waste considering how sweet and sublime the meat is, especially when it is skillfully prepared by experts like Shang Palace’s executive Chinese chef, Leung Sing Cheung.

Local hairy crab lovers can indulge in a splendid six-course menu (RM238++ per person), featuring this seasonal delicacy in the Shang Palace’s imperial setting. A warm, satisfying bowl of Braised Shark’s Fin with Hairy Crab Roe and Sea Urchin comprising thick strands of shark’s fin, rich roe, chunky crab meat and delicate sea urchin is the perfect dish to whet your appetite.

Deep-fried beancurd roll with minced meat and hairy crab meatDiners will find sinking their teeth into the piece de resistance – a whole hairy crab steamed the traditional way – a breeze at the Shang Palace. The service staff will cut the crabs up with surgical precision and present them to you, ready for consumption. What a luxury it is to simply scoop up the scrumptious roe from within the shell.

While the crab meat is exquisite on its own, its inherent sweetness is heightened when complemented by the black vinegar and minced ginger dip. Since the Chinese believe the consumption of hairy crabs has a cooling effect on the body, a warm cup of sweetened ginger tea is served to neutralise this effect.

The Deep-fried Beancurd Roll Stuffed with Minced Meat and Crab Meat stands out in nice contrast with the Stewed Dried Fish Maw with Hairy Crab Roe and Wolfberries. Wonderfully crisp on the outside, the beancurd roll yields a delectable filling inside.
The fish maw’s bland, spongy texture is the perfect foil to offset the flavourful crab roe and meat against the wolfberries’ subtle sweetness.

Fish maw with hairy crab meat and wolfberriesDelicious stewed noodles with shredded chicken, hairy crab meat and suet choy (a type of preserved vegetable) and glutinous balls stuffed with black sesame paste in sweetened ginger tea round off this menu.

The Hairy Crab promotion will run until Nov 30 so hurry for a taste of these highly sought-after crabs. W

SHANG PALACE Shangri-la Hotel 11 Jalan Sultan Ismail 50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel (6) 03-2074 3904
Business hours:
Monday-Saturday – Noon to 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 10.30pm
Sunday & public holidays – 10.30am to 2.30 pm

News Source : STAR

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