Autumn, a Time for ‘Crab’
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