Hairy crabs a sign of the times

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 23 Oct 2020

I had the good fortune to be treated to hairy crabs just after the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Chinese people like to eat what's in season, so being able to savor seasonal delicacies is joyful, and to do so ahead of everyone else will make you even happier.

This year's hairy crab supply is in trouble as serious flooding has washed away many baby crabs. Officials have even grimly predicted that this year's crab harvest could turn out to be the worst in years.

Less supply means higher prices, especially for premium crabs, which could make them up to 20 percent more expensive. If it is any consolation, the crab season this year has come earlier - by the better part of a month.

My first crab feast of the year took place at Liu Yuan Pavilion in Wan Chai. The shop's crab meat tofu is good, with the meat and fat fresh and delicious, and the tofu smooth. Its babaofan - eight treasure rice pudding - is also good.

Our host, an old customer of the shop, asked about the state of business this year. The manager said the season started early at the beginning of September, and supply peaked around the Mid-Autumn Festival. So this is a good time to enjoy the crustacean treat.

He said proudly that the shop was doing very brisk business despite the epidemic, and staff members have been kept busy collecting meat from the crabs as ingredients.

The shop's signature dish of hairy crab in two styles uses crab fat and crab meat as the main ingredients. A two-person portion is priced at just over HK$2,000.

The manager told us fans of these dishes include the second and third-generation offspring of rich people. Even famous local tycoons who themselves run starred establishments would come over to enjoy the delicacy, he said.

He was so confident about how delicious these dishes are that his words actually had a mouth-watering effect on the listeners.

In the past few decades, the local economy has seen a lot more good times than bad. Its fundamentals remain strong, so many people can still afford to spend.

What's important is that we keep our spirits high like the proud manager and maintain the conviction that we'll pull through, come what may.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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November 2020

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