Crayfish!!! The first time I tried was when I was stationed in Shanghai. During summer, these crustaceans were the sold in abundance as the perfect companion to ice cold beer. But most of these crayfish were not native of China and were brought into China to help neutralise the heavy metals dissolved in sewerage. So, they were thought to be dirty and cause cancers. So some more expensive varieties, bred for consumption crayfish were brought in.
[This blogpost is written during the middle of the Covid-19 epidemic. I miss Shenzhen, and I miss eating in China!]
盱眙龙虾 XuYi Crayfish
Fast forward, Jiangsu government decided to invest in cultivation of crayfish in an industrial scale. Xuyi County is under the administration of Huai’an, Jiangsu province, China. The southernmost of Huai’an’s county-level divisions, it borders the prefecture-level cities of Suqian to the north and Chuzhou (Anhui) to the south and west. Xuyi is noted for production of crayfish 小龙虾.
Xuyi has established crayfish breeding demonstration areas along Douhu, Hongze Lake, and Mao’er Lake, and five high-efficiency ecological culture parks including Manjianghong, Renhe, Dalianhu. There are now also three wholesale markets, producing about 60,000 tons of Xuyi crayfish annually. However, due to the nature of lobster farming, feeding the right amount of bait is difficult; class size is also uncontrollable, making it hard to maximise lobster production.
And now the delicious results of breeding crayfish.
四川麻辣小龙虾🦞sichuan spicy crayfish
The grandpapa of all crayfish flavours – the sichuan spicy crayfish. You can customise the level of spiciness, from sweat to atomic. Crayfish on its own is almost tasteless. You need the spices to create the dish. So combining Sichuan flavours with crayfish became the logical choice.
This was the flavour I was introduced to, fell in love and I never looked at another crayfish again.
招牌十三香小龙虾🦞signature fragrant crayfish
What is 十三香 thirteen fragrances? It is a spice mix that consisted of thirteen spices that included cardamon, peppercorn, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger, etc. It is almost always found as a dry powder and used as a dry rub for meat and poultry. But some smart person used it for cooking the bland crayfish and created the classic thirteen fragrant crayfish.
I called this the entry level taste, with a sweet and savoury, yet not too spicy taste.
咸蛋黄焗小龙虾🦞salted egg yolk crayfish
Did I say I never look at another crayfish again? Salted egg yolk was introduced to many things recently, from fried fish skins to deep fried battered prawn. So it was a matter of time they came looking for crayfish. It was another match in heaven. How fickle minded I am when it comes to such deliciousness.
手撕包菜 stir fry cabbage
And to neutralise it all, cabbage with dried chili and garlic.
The First in Shenzhen
LongChao (which means “Dragon’s Nest”, taking the meaning from “little dragon shrimp” or crayfish) was the first to bring in Xuyi crayfish in Shenzhen. Since 2007, they have opened many branches, and because of its success, spawned off many copycats.
Some of these copycats were actually better than the original, so Longchao has since scaled back to a few direct stores. The service in this store was actually quite bad. The food may be good, and the environment was clean and airy, but the service really didn’t cut it. Maybe I should try another store.
LongChao Crayfish 龙巢盱眙龙虾 （香蜜湖）
Date Visited : Apr 2018