The southeast corridor of China is teeming with waterways and freshwater creatures, like the river crab, a beloved culinary specialty throughout the area. Prized for its sweet and delicate taste, the crustacean has entire festivals dedicated to it. However, eating it tends to get messy. The meat-to-shell ratio in a typical river crab isn’t ideal and often involves really digging in.
River crab is a must-have ingredient at any fine dining restaurant. To simplify the eating process for their patrons, chefs at Hong Kong’s prestigious Fook Lam Moon restaurant pioneered a stuffed crab dish. The crustacean meat is breaded, deep-fried, and then served in an empty crab shell.
“It was a dish invented specifically for the wealthy,” says Chef Tse Man, who used to work at Fook Lam Moon. When he was recruited to be the head chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s Ya Ge restaurant, he brought the dish with him to Taipei.
It’s remarkably simple. Most of the flavor lies in the crab meat and is only accented with a dash of salt. Tse Man says that’s entirely the point. After all, Southeastern Chinese cuisine is known for its dedication to the ingredients. Not much seasoning is added; the dishes are often naturally sweet.
Seating at Ya Ge, the flagship restaurant, is by reservation only and features a collection of private dining rooms. The dim sum menu is absolutely divine, and Man is adamant about sourcing his ingredients as locally as possible. Dining at Ya Ge is a must-try for brunch in Taipei, but if you can’t travel to Taiwan to indulge in the experience, this recipe will do.
Fried Stuffed Crab Meat
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Mandarin Oriental, Tapei: No. 158 Dunhua North Road , 10548 Taipei City, Taiwan
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