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A delicacy in Shanghai. Shanghainese cuisine is geared heavily toward seafood, and the hairy crab is one of its more exotic dishes. Although I find it to be a waste of money, many people seem to love this particular dish. Must be my Cantonese upbringing.

Hairy crab is named so for its "mane" of soft, delicate hairs on the underside. It is a smallish, freshwater crab, much smaller than the usual crab served in Chinese seafood restaurants. I would say it is around 10cm in length, compared to the over 20cm long "meat crabs". They contain minimal amounts of meat (which is what I prefer in crab), instead, the main edible part of the crab is the yellow-orange eggs inside, which I admit to be extremely tasty.

The crabs are steamed in boiled water containing a bit of seasoning, including Chinese onions, giving it flavor. However, that is for the bits of meat, since the eggs are very flavorful by themselves. The hairs on the crab usually don't get in the way, because you pry off the underside in one motion. However, bits of hair remaining on the sides interfere with the eating of the rest of the crab, what little there is.

Having sampled this dish several times, I decided to stick with the meatier crabs (or better yet, lobster). This type of crab contains only eggs and slivers of meat. I can understand the delicacy part because the eggs are extremely tasty, however, I don't believe it justifies the exorbitant cost of the meal.

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