Hairy crab season is here! Nothing signifies fall, or 秋冬, like the joyous mid-autumn festival epitomised by the traditional culinary marvels of mooncakes followed by the must-have crustacean treat from Yang Cheng Lake in China’s Jiangsu province, the palm-sized hairy crabs.
I’d never had hairy crab before so this was a first time for me. Actually, what the heck is hairy crab!??!? Did some googling and found out that it is called hairy crab (or Chinese mitten crab) because for its furry claws that look like mittens. Cute. According to wiki, the crab is an autumn delicacy in Shanghai cuisine and eastern China. It is prized for the female crab roe, which ripen in the ninth lunar month and for the males in the tenth. The crab meat is believed by the Chinese to have a “cooling” (yin) effect on the body.
To celebrate the annual gourmet festival welcoming Autumn, Peony Jade’s culinary team is proud to present a range of classic Cantonese creations that display both a great respect for tradition and an enthusiastic nod to the future. This year’s menu features creations such as the Sea salt-baked hairy crab in golden pillow, which captures your heart and attention with its adorable crab-shaped handcrafted bread crust, and other choice treats at Peony Jade @ Keppel Club.
I was fortunate to attend a tasting and sampled some of these hairy crab dishes. Let’s dig in!
The Chinese believe that crabs have a yin, or cooling, effect on the body. To neutralise this yin effect, the Peony Jade team specially introduced sea salt-baked hairy crab in golden pillow 盐焗面包大闸蟹 (S$68++), as the yang-element sea salt helps to bring out the freshness and sweetness of the crab where the fresh roe can be showcased at its best.
The entire hairy crab is encased in an adorable crab-shaped handcrafted bread crust. In order to savour this prized treasure, you would have to peel the bread so that the aroma of the crab prepared with creamy low fat butter and freshly concocted chicken consommé will emanate.
Another way to enjoy the fresh hairy crab roe is with the use of egg white, as presented in this dish – steamed fresh scallop with hairy crab meat and egg white 玉河畔金杯西京蟹 (S$38++). Golden roe extracted from the hairy crab and soft egg whites are added to enhance the silky texture and laden the hairy crab meat with a full-bodied flavour and aroma.
Another must-try is Peony Jade’s steamed ‘xiao long bao’ with hairy crab meat & golden roe 蟹粉小笼包 (S$18++ for 3 pieces). The traditional xiao long bao is prepared with pork filling seasoned with ginger and shaoxing wine, and mixed with pork stock. Adding crab meat and crab roe from the hairy crab makes this truly decadent.
Wok fried ‘shanghai’ nian gao with hairy crab in xo sauce xo 酱大闸蟹上海年糕 (S$56++ per order).
Wok tossed fragrant rice with hand peeled hairy crab meat 粒粒飘香大闸蟹肉炒饭 (part of set menu).
Another part of the set menu: to balance the yin energy of this autumn/winter feast is the traditional sweet-and-spicy boiled hot ginger tea with glutinous rice dumplings. The heat of the ginger aids in digestion and it is believed that the ‘heaty’ aspect of the ginger soup can balance the ‘cooling’ effect of hairy crab meat. I love this ginger tea even though it has a spicy kick, but it cleanses the palate nicely after all the crabby-ness.
Durian-lovers can up the ante to a whole new level by sinking your teeth into Peony Jade’s Signature bittersweet Mao Shan Wang durian mochi. The chewy yet perfectly soft mochi skin encases the unadulterated Mao Shan Wang durian pulp inside.
Since I’m not hot on durian, I took this opportunity to sample Peony Jade’s Volcanic Egg Yolk Buns 流沙包. Can never go wrong with that! :9
This seasonal hairy crab promotion at Peony Jade @ Keppel Club is available from 19 October to 30 November 2013. Prices start from S$12++ for ala carte items, S$98++ per person for set menu and S$128++ per person for premium set menu.