You've heard that the best place to eat hairy crabs is at China's Yang Cheng Lake, situated northeast of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, but you gotta be out of your mind if you're willing to travel out of the country just for crabs.. or are you? After all, these are not just ordinary crabs. Oh, they're far from so. They have hair on them, cost a bomb, small in size and only available for 4 months per year.
But those are exactly the reasons why you must have it.
Thankfully, you can save yourself the trip because local restaurants in Singapore are stocking up on their supplies of hairy crabs from the famous lake, and one of them whom you can trust to hear your hairy cravings is Peony Jade, with their range of hairy crab dishes. Ooooh, hairy. I mean, yummy.
The array of hairy crab dishes we had that afternoon were prepared by none other than Executive Chef Ryan Shiu himself, who already has impressive culinary credentials under his belt with stints in China and a 1 Star Michelin restaurant in Macau. For health-conscious OpenRicers out there, you'll be glad to know that Peony Jade is particular about the quality and safety of their food, having hired Food Safety consultant, Charles Chen, to ensure things like no MSG is added.
We got ourselves seated in the corner of Peony Jade at Keppel Club on a quiet workday during lunch hour and waited in eager anticipation as our first dish, the Hand-peeled Crabmeat Roll with Shredded Radish($12), arrived. The hairy crab roe was wrapped in rice paper and deep fried till crispy like chinese eggroll style, except it was much slender in proportion and came in twos that were cut in halves. A great way to prepare our tastebuds for the following dishes to come.
From Left: Steamed Xiao Long Bao with Hairy Crab Golden Roe, Hand-peeled Crabmeat Roll with Shredded Radish
Just when we thought that nothing can beat the latest creation of multi-colored (and flavored) xiao long baos by Paradise Dynasty
(well, at least, not that soon), Peony Jade challenged us otherwise with their very own Steamed Xiao Long Bao with Hairy Crab Golden Roe ($18)
, which came in 3 pieces and looked deceivingly ordinary, but you'll soon learnt that it is anything but so. Was it us or did the crab roe absorbed all the soup within the bao? But go ahead, take a bite, and let the richness of crab roe engulf your mouth.From Left: Peony Jade Steamed Hairy Crab Golden Roe, Double boiled supreme sharks’ fin soup with hairy crab and chinese herbs, Peony Jade Steamed Hairy Crab
Then came our main dish: Double boiled supreme sharks’ fin soup with hairy crab and chinese herbs($58 /person)
How would you think a soup like that would taste? On first glance, you would think it'll have a tinge of bitterness like ginseng soup because of the herbs, but it was surprisingly sweet (it must have came from the sweet meat of the crab). There is not much meat in the hairy crab, but it is the creamy roe that you really ought to be looking out for.
I got myself a female crab, which most Shanghai locals would think is the better tasting crab, even though it is smaller than the males, because it has more eggs which makes it taste sweeter. How else can you differentiate between the male and female hairy crabs? I'm told that you can do so by looking at the bellies of the crabs. Interestingly, like human beings, if it has a "V" shape belly, then it is male. If it round, then you guessed it, it is female. Another interesting thing to note is that the best season to have female crabs are in September, and for males in October.
Then came the Braised supreme shark’s fin with hand-peeled hairy crabmeat, golden roe and egg white($78 /person)
. From the menu, I was expecting a soup based dish, but as usual, Chef Ryan Shiu, surprised us. Although we did not get down and dirty (which is one of the joys of eating crabs), the flavor of this dish was so sweet and robust that we crown it the winner in our eyes. A combination of two favorite Chinese delicacies in one? Perfect.
We finished off with Peony Jade's popular Steamed Custard Bun which is a ‘must-try’ for all Dim Sum lovers, but that is another story for another time.
Enough reading. Time to get your hands dirty with the Hairy Crab's creamy roe and sweet flesh! Why not start with Peony Jade?
- Peony Jade
- Address: Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Road, M level
- Tel. No.: 62769138 / 62768327
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