Now that mooncake season has passed, another local food craze is taking over Beijing: hairy crabs. While some of the swankier restaurants in town will serve you just a bit of the orange, fuzzy crustacean's meat, that always feels like cheating to us - for the full hairy crab experience you've got to do it yourself. Here's how to eat hairy crabs properly.
Step 1: Pick your crab
First you need to choose your crab. The females are larger, but it’s the males that are really in their prime this month. Make sure it’s lively; look for crabs that are foaming a bit and offer signs of movement.
Step 2: Open the crab
Once it’s been steamed, flip your crab over and crack open the flap on the crab’s belly (oval for females, triangular for males) to expose the bright orange roe inside. Remove the gills – you can’t eat them – and the pale heart.
Step 3: Eat the roe
Crack the body of the crab in half and you’ll expose more roe. You can eat this as it is or mix it with the traditional accompaniment of ginger and vinegar.
Step 4: Use a pair of scissors
Next up are the legs. If you don’t want to risk losing your dentures by cracking the legs open with your teeth you can flag down a waiter for a crab cracker, or simply use a pair of scissors. To access the meat inside, you can try sucking on the legs or use the scissors, a chopstick or another crab leg to push it out. We suggest that parents prepare the meat for children to prevent them getting cut by the sharp edges and spikes on the crust.
Step 5: Voila! Enjoy the crab