Feasting season kicks off for delicious hairy crabs
Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs, one of China’s autumn delicacies, officially hit the market on Friday following the opening ceremony of the crab harvest in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.
According to Yan Jinhu, secretary-general of the Yangcheng Lake Crab Industry Association, the lake will produce about 2,000 metric tons of hairy crabs this year. The price of big crabs will increase by 40 percent while the output has been reduced by 100 tons.
“The waters used to farm crabs have been reduced by the local government’s environmental protection actions,” Yan said.
According to the association, the area of water to farm crabs will be cut in half, from 2,130 hectares to 1,065 hectares by the end of this year. It predicts that the price of Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs will increase further in 2017.
Though China harvests around 800,000 tons of hairy crabs each year, the catch from Yangcheng Lake is considered the best due to good water quality.
The crabs, well known for their green-blue top shell, snow-white bellies, and golden hair on their legs and pincers, are loved by many when autumn comes.
Locals prefer to eat the crabs without dipping sauce, which is generally made of vinegar and ginger, to enjoy the freshness and delicate flavor of the specialty.
With the boom of e-commerce and delivery services, nearly 70 percent of the hairy crabs are now sold on the internet. A large proportion is exported to East and Southeast Asia, including Japan and Hong Kong.
On Jingdong, a popular e-commerce platform in China, eight crabs, about 0.25 kilograms each, are sold for 1,388 yuan ($208). At food markets, a crab about 0.1 to 0.15 kilograms is sold for around 30 yuan.
“The big crabs are too expensive right now,” said Feng Bing, a Suzhou high school teacher. “I’ll start with some small ones and buy the big ones when the prices fall.” Hang Xuefei contributed to this story.