In a New York Times article from September, 2008, food critic Michelle Green writes of one such meal when she partook of hairy crab on a visit to Shanghai.
Is it the fact that you choose your hairy crab live and are thus assured of its freshness? Is the name itself, the blatantly sexual sound of it, part of the reason that foodies worldwide proclaim its virtues as a heavenly, must-try food?
Green and her friends did everything right. They chose a restaurant – Wang Bao He – much loved among hairy crab fanatics. They questioned the waitress to make sure they were ordering the most succulent preparation. They ordered the wine that is said to be the perfect compliment.
“The smell,” said Terry, “is like dirty river water.” Under the carapaces lurked gelatinous black deposits; instead of sweet meat, we discovered stringy, bland flesh.
Apparently the hairy crab has fallen victim to not so stringent pollution regulations, the market for it rife with counterfeiters.
Don’t ask me how to counterfeit a hairy crab. I couldn’t begin to tell you.