Au­tumn, a Time for ‘Crab’

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS -

The dish saipangxie (crab-flavoured fish or egg) looks and tastes like crab, but to be hon­est, has lit­tle to do with it.

Au­tumn is the sea­son for cool breezes, chrysan­the­mum blos­soms, and fat crabs. The Chi­nese re­gard Septem­ber on the lu­nar cal­en­dar as a “golden time” and Oc­to­ber, a “sil­ver time,” and it is in these two months that crabs pro­duce the juici­est meat and the rich­est roe. “Eat­ing crab is the first pri­or­ity in au­tumn,” one Chi­nese gourmet re­marked, “Crab has been a pop­u­lar in­gre­di­ent of dishes since an­cient times be­cause of its del­i­cacy and sweet­ness.

How­ever, this de­li­cious food is not a reg­u­lar part of most peo­ple’s daily meals, be­cause the fresh­est crabs are avail­able for only a two-month pe­riod. They cost a lot, and the crabs are from cold wa­ter. So, the love of crab meat lead to the cre­ation of saipangxie (crab-flavoured fish or egg), an amaz­ing dish of sim­ple, or­di­nary in­gre­di­ents that man­ages to recre­ate the rich flavour of real crab. Just think of the say­ing, “The real be­comes un­real where the un­real’s real.”

Saipangxie can be found on the menus of both north­ern and south­ern Chi­nese cuisines. Shan­dong Cui­sine rep­re­sents North China, while the city of Shang­hai’s lo­cal cui­sine is the finest in South China. The veg­e­tar­ian ver­sion of saipangxie is made from chicken eggs, duck egg yolk, mashed car­rots, mashed pota­toes, and gin­ger vine­gar, while the meat ver­sion has a bit more fi­nesse. It uses boned fish in ad­di­tion to the chicken egg, duck egg yolk, and gin­ger vine­gar to give a white colour sim­i­lar to crab meat and a yel­low colour sim­i­lar to crab roe.

In tra­di­tional Chi­nese cui­sine, there are var­i­ous ap­proaches. One is to cook in a way that ei­ther brings out the nat­u­ral flavour of

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