Autumn is the season of many things: it’s a time where leaves turn into beautiful fiery shades of red and yellow, it’s the cooling down of the weather…except we live on the equator and none of these apply to us. One seasonal change we can get excited for, however, is food. We’re not talking about the (#basic) Pumpkin Spiced Latte. In Singapore, we’re smitten over the coveted hairy crab.
After all, how could we not? These petite crustaceans — mitten claws and all — come presented to us flushed in elegant bamboo steamers, before its torn apart to reveal sinfully buttery golden roe and unthinkably sweet (albeit little) flesh that’s elevated by the vinegar it’s served in with.
Here, both the male and the female crabs come with packed with roe: the former comes with a creamier, lava-like texture, while the latter is much denser and crumbly in nature.
Traditionally, hairy crabs served in Singapore are steamed whole to preserve their delicately sweet flavour and texture. While they this remains the most popular way to savour the transient delicacy, some restaurants around the island have taken the liberty to create full-blown menus surrounding the hairy crab.
Where to get the best hairy crabs in Singapore this year:
(Hero and featured image: Taste Paradise)
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Cantonese restaurant Yan Ting will offers a delightful six-course hairy crab set menu this season. Besides the iconic steamed hairy crab, the sweet flesh of the crustacean finds itself paired with meats like pork in a neat dumpling, as well as a salted egg yolk scallop. That isn’t all — diners can savour other signature dishes such as the Pan-fried Marble Goby ‘Soon Hock’ for some variety at the St. Regis establishment. A la carte options for the hairy crab are also available.
Multi-award-winning restaurant Min Jiang has dreamed up a slew of dishes for hairy crab connoisseurs. Here, the crustacean finds itself in mains like the Braised Hairy Crabmeat and Roe with Crystal Noodles and the Steamed Hairy Crab with Glutinous rice served in Bamboo Basket, both of which are sure to satisfy your cravings for it. Lighter, carb-free options include the Steamed Hairy Crab with Ginger Rice Wine and the Homemade Tofu with Hairy Crabmeat. Curated set menus featuring the delicacy are also available.
National Gallery’s Yan presents a superb range of hairy crab delicacies, available as a six-course set for those who can’t decide. The menu, created in conjunction with Yan’s seventh anniversary, features a medley of dishes — the traditional steamed crab from Lake Tai is served alongside other plates such as the Signature Wok-fried Spare Ribs with Dang Gui, Pan-fried Carrot Cake topped with Hairy Crab Meat and Roe and the Braised Fish Maw with Chef’s Special Sauce.
The exquisite hairy crab creations at Yì by Jereme Leung is exactly as it sounds. Fans of the coveted crustacean can expect the seasonal delicacy feast to begin with the Chilled Hairy Crab in Chinese Wine Brine served with Dried Longan, Wolfberry & Ginger Tea Jelly, before a serving of it is have it oven-baked and served with Longan & Osmanthus Ginger Tea. The indulgent meal is interlaced with dishes such as the Capellini with Hairy Crab Roe, Assorted Seafood & Vinegar Pearls, as well as the impressive Steamed Egg topped with Foie Gras, Hairy Crab Meat & Black Vinegar.
Not content with simply offering steamed hairy crabs, Taste Paradise and Paradise Teochew have also conjured up decadent six-course set menus that feature hairy crab sourced direct from Yangcheng Lake, China, known to be where the most prime crabs can be found. Here, the prized crabs and their creamy roe are presented in dishes like the Steamed Hairy Crab Xiao Long Bao, Stewed Hairy Crab Roe Vermicelli with Shredded Fish and Conpoy, and Braised Rice with Hairy Crab Roe topped with Crispy Rice in Casserole, making it an affair that everyone will enjoy.
The team behind Hairy Crab Singapore has moved beyond importing and distributing the delicacy to suppliers and restaurants — they’ve now launched their first online retail shop to bring the crustaceans directly to diners at home. Each order comes with live crabs (either male, female or both), bound tightly with straws so you just have to pop them in the steamer: no fuss needed. Inside the kit, they’ve also kindly included dried perilla leaves to steam the crabs with — which imparts a unique aroma and remove strong smells — as well as vinegar, ginger tea sachets and a deshelling kit and instructions.
Michelin-starred Shang Palace’s Chef Daniel Cheung has crafted a luxurious slew of dishes with the well-loved crustacean using various culinary techniques to showcase its distinctive and delicate flavours. On the a la carte menu, diners can expect opulent servings of Braised Imperial Bird’s Nest with Hairy Crab Roe and Braised Fish Maw with Hairy Crab Roe, dishes that are textural delights punctuated with the crab’s distinctive sweetness. Can’t decide? Make your life and meal a little easier with the Hairy Crab 6-course Set Menu.