How to eat the male Shanghai hairy crab

Shanghai Hairy Crab (Male)

Previously, this blog illustrated the way to eat the female Shanghai hairy crab. This time, in an attempt to balance the karmic score, this blog shall illustrate how to do in the male.

Actually, the process for both genders are similar; the difference is how you fiddle with the reproductive organs to gain access. Much like the case for you Humans too.

Again, you should start by identifying the male of the masculine gender. This is pretty easy as all males have a sharp pointed “V”-shaped thingy (carapace? shell?) that is quite unlike the female of the species.

Shanghai Hairy Crab (Male)

One would imagine the armored female would be quite capable in fending off the amorous male.

Lifting the V-shaped flap, you expose what is known in the crabby world as “Gonopods” which are basically… (let me turn on Google here…) …copulatory organs. Intriguing.

Shanghai Hairy Crab (Male)

Anyway, after you tear off (ouch!) that flap with the gonopods, flip over the crab, seize one side of the legs and proceed to lift off the top carapace, thus exposing the insides of the male crab.

You will see the spindly, gray leg-like appendages; these are the gills which you do not eat. You can either fold them back with the legs or cut them off to reveal the roe and the rest of the edible parts.

Shanghai Hairy Crab (Male)

No. I have no idea why the male Shanghai hairy crab has roe in it. But I do know that it seems that Shanghainese women are mostly contemptuous of Shanghainese men because they are perceived to be homebodies.

Whichever is the case, you should also remember not to discard the carapace as it also contains roe-y goodness.

Shanghai Hairy Crab (Male)

Finally, you can snap the body in two as it’s easier to dip into the piquant vinegar and garlic sauce and suck every last drop out.

Shanghai Hairy Crab (Male)

And there you have it, an easy way to get the best out of the Shanghainese hairy crab.

The main objective about eating Shanghainese hairy crab is to get at the roe, this is because, I am told, that the proportion of roe to the size of the crab is enormous, i.e. you get more roe per crab than any other species. I must say this is true possibly because of the size of the crab itself. But no matter what, I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of eating the Shanghainese hairy crab.

Shanghai Hairy Crab (Male)

Posted on 23rd Dec 2009 in Fun, Shanghainese


There Are 5 Comments


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The Ninja commented on December 27, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Unfortunately I have not yet seen a hairy crab down in Australia (although I have seen many a hairy and crabby organism)but will be pulling this guide out if I ever do or when I come back to SG. You can’t have a how-to without photos : )


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Ataru no Miko commented on October 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm

> I have no idea why the male Shanghai hairy crab has roe in it.

Whereas a female crab’s roe is composed of her eggs, a male crab’s roe is his sperm. This is why male and female roe have different taste and consistency.


ivan commented on October 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

@Ataru no Miko: Thanks for the info, but it was more or less the same taste. And if I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be yellow in color. 🙂

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