Autumn is China's biggest crab season. That's very much because the most popular freshwater crabs are at their delicious peak now — meaty and loaded with roe. There's no better time than right now to eat these delicious crustaceans. Beijing's restaurants and hotels are busy presenting their best crab dishes.
Xie Lao Song, a specialized crab restaurant, is holding its 13th annual Crab Festival. Its secret of success is a special "fragrant and spicy" sauce — the recipe, the restaurant says, is as valuable as Coca-Cola's. The signature dish at Xie Lao Song is a meaty Burmese mud crab, which is freshly prepared with oil, then fried with ginger, shallots and the special sauce. Besides mud crab, the restaurant has king crab, Dungeness crab, green hard-shell crab and common box crab as well as river and lake crab to choose from. The most popular way of cooking is the "fragrant and spicy" pot with special sauce. The restaurant also uses the cooking method for shrimp, wild duck and quail. There are quite a few tasty cold dishes available.
Chinese gourmets believe female lake crabs are best in the ninth lunar month, while male crabs are best in the 10th. These occur about half a month later than they do on the solar calendar. The restaurant says its mitten crab raised in Yangcheng Lake is "green food" — healthy and sustainable. Last but not least, Beijing's fish markets are full of fresh river and sea crabs at this time. Chinese people believe in "putting autumn fat" onto yourself, to prepare for a colder season. So when in China, eat as the Chinese eat: feast on crabs!
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