How to eat hairy crab

Follow our step-by-step guide to eating the local delicacy

Shanghai is set to be swamped by an infestation of furry crustaceans this month as hairy crabs come into season at the nearby Yangcheng Lake. While some of the swankier restaurants in town will serve you just the crab meat, that always feels a bit like cheating to us – for the full hairy crab experience you’ve got to do it yourself. And if you really want to immerse yourself in the hairy crab phenomenon, you can head to Yangcheng Lake to dine in one of the floating restaurants there.


Click through the photo gallery to see how to eat hairy crabs properly. 


1. Pick your crab
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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.

2. Open the crab
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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.

3. Eat the roe
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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.

4. Use the scissors
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4. Use the 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.

5. Enjoy!
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5. Enjoy!

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