Cool season for crustacean

It is that time of the year again – hairy crab is back on the menu for two months.

Michelin one-starred restaurant, Yat Tung Heen in Jordan, has launched a limited-time seven-course hairy crab set menu (HK$1,588), as well as an eight-course mud crab tasting menu (HK$660), available until November 30.

“Mud crabs can be found all year round in Hong Kong, but hairy crabs are seasonal and cultivated in Jiangsu, China,” said executive chef Tam Tung. “Famous for its fatty, golden roe and succulent white flesh, hairy crab is definitely worth trying every year at this time.”

For starters, enjoy a three-course assorted appetizer which includes their signature roasted pork belly, chilled tomatoes marinated with preserved plum juice and, best of all, steamed Shanghainese pork dumpling with hairy crab roe.

Demonstrating the chef’s impressive handiwork, the dumpling has meat and roe from nearly half a crab, filling your mouth with a umami flavor.

After a nourishing double-boiled abalone soup with fish maw, sea whelk and matsutake mushroom, it’s time to get your hands dirty with two five-tael steamed hairy crabs.

If you can only handle so much crab, there’s always the pan-fried fresh scallops stuffed with minced prawn, topped with hairy crab roe, to give you the satisfaction of all that seafood goodness in one bite.

If you’re a native Cantonese like me, a meal is incomplete without leafy greens and carbohydrates – which the stewed Chinese lettuce with soybean sauce and fried glutinous rice with preserved sausages and assorted air-dried meat will satisfy.

The Chinese believe that crab is a “cool” food and must be balanced with “hot” elements like ginger. Tam recommends ending the feast with sesame dumplings in ginger sweet soup.

Across the harbor, Old Bailey in Central is offering 14 limited-time dishes featuring seasonal Shanghainese hairy crabs farmed in Hokkaido, Japan, until mid-December.

Feed your nostalgia with a dish of fried mung bean sheets with hairy crab milt (HK$1,888), which captures the flavor of in-season male hairy crabs with roughly 130 grams of rich hairy crab milt and 57 grams of crab meat and roe.

Sauteed hairy crab meat with hairy crab roe (HK$788) is your go-to dish if you are not up for cracking shells, as the chef has skillfully de-shelled all the flesh and roe by hand and sauteed them with ginger, crab vinegar and huadiao wine.

Wash that down with a 15-year-old Gu Yue Long Shan Long Wen huadiao yellow wine, available for an additional HK$880 for 500 milliliters, to warm up your stomach.

Japanese eatery Shikigiku at The Royal Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui East also offers hairy crab flown in fresh from Hokkaido, with three newly inspired dishes on its winter menu.

The Hokkaido hairy crab vinegar dish (HK$980) offers a sweet start to your meal.

Or try the Hokkaido kegani crab kamameshi rice (HK$980), where each kernel of rice is infused with the succulent and sweet flavors of hairy crab meat.

The heart-warming Hokkaido kegani crab hot pot (HK$1,180) packs a sweet flavor from hairy crabs and nourishing fresh vegetables, simply delicious when you add in some rice to make a congee.

Room for a little more?

The nearby Cafe on M has put out a dinner buffet (from HK$628) overflowing with crustaceans from around the globe – including Japanese snow crab, Canadian brown crab, and local blue flower crab – available until November 30.

Crabs are the main attraction but the spread also includes appetizers like sashimi and sushi as well as freshly-shucked oysters, roasted suckling pig, and carved roast beef.

(This article was published at The Standard on November 29, 2019: Weekend Glitz: Cool season for crustacean )

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