Photo by Jarrett Wrisley

This is a classic Shanghainese dish. It's rich and soothing, perfectly suited to the cold and damp winters there. It's available year round, but it's at its best from October to December, when the hairy crabs fatten themselves as the water temperatures drop. Serve this dish with wok-fried vegetables, a pork dish, soup, and some rice for a balanced Shanghai-style meal.

Xiefen Dofu

    • 10 hairy crabs (pang xie),cooked and picked, meat reserved
    • 800g silken tofu
    • Cooking oil, preferably peanut
    • 1-2 teaspoons ginger, minced
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon yellow wine
    • 1.5 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved into 1.5 Tbsp water
    • 2 tablespoon chives, chopped

Take 10 small hairy crabs and rinse them. Bring water with a few big chunks of ginger in it to a rolling boil. Place the crabs in the water and cook for 10 minutes. Don't overcook them; you want the meat to be firm but the eggs to still be soft and creamy.

After crabs have cooled, pick them clean. Discard fat that lines the shell, but reserve all the meat and the roe.

Heat about 3 tbsp oil in a wok on medium high heat. Add crabmeat and 1 tbsp minced ginger, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp of Chinese yellow cooking wine, and quickly stir-fry for 20-30 seconds. Set mixture aside.

Place 800g (two small Chinese packages) of drained and cubed silken tofu into the same wok, and add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1.5 tsp of sugar. Fry for a minute to mix.

Add the crabmeat mixture to the tofu in the wok, continue to cook over medium heat until mixed well. Add the cornstarch mixture too, and cook until it thickens, about a minute or two. Season with salt to taste.

Add 1 or 2 tbsp chopped chives to the tofu in a serving bowl and mix into the tofu. Serve with rice.