Just as strawberry season comes to a sad end, crayfish take center stage on the menu. Once the weather starts looking up in April, buckets of live crayfish appear on every street. They are sold by weight, thrown into boiling water right in front of you and prepared in various styles including spicy, garlic-flavored or plain with sauces.
Restaurants will bring you gloves because eating crayfish can be extremely messy… The trick is to pull off the head, pull out the gross poopy intestine, dip in a sauce and munch away. Crayfish are incredibly popular and it’s impressive how many a single Chinese person can put away!
If you’ve never had crayfish before, expect them to taste like a cross between shrimp and lobster. Although I think they taste great, I get bored battling the outer layers pretty quickly. You only end up eating about 20% of the body and the rest becomes a mess of legs, intestines and brains. Why do people love crayfish but fear eating insects, I will never understand!
A popular side-dish to crayfish include rice, fish, giant peas, tofu and eggs. Crayfish season lasts through summer, with the poor creatures sizzling in the hot sun, and starts to end in September/October. There are no more crayfish just as strawberries begin to appear on the market.
It’s funny really, because China doesn’t really have spring or fall. There is only scorching summer and cold-to-the-bone winter. When it’s hot there’s crayfish. When it’s cold there’s strawberries.