There is a rumor that you haven’t experienced living in Shanghai until you’ve eaten a world of buttery crab meat and roe during hairy crab season. And this is the simple truth.
Throughout fall (between 9th and 10th months of the lunar calendar), all Asian culinary mastery is all about the hairy crab. This time is one of the most important gastronomic periods, particularly in Shanghai. The most valued crab species come from Yangcheng Lake, Jiangsu Province, and the most appreciated ones (called 'dazha xie') are those weighing 150 g or more.
Between October and December, hairy crabs can be found in every restaurant and market, being even sold in vending machines at subway stations. Just mind that the finest specimens of large female crabs may cost you more than prime steak.
One of the most popular traditional recipes is a steamed crab with perilla leaves. However, local restaurants have hundreds of their own specialties, so you won't get bored easily. Usually, crab dishes are best paired with champagne or with local white wines such as Shaoxing, Huadiao, and Nu'er hong. The allure of crab season is also the prized golden roe. It matures in female crabs by the end of September and in male species—by the end of October.