Sichuan spiced fried mud crab is a heavenly dish, although very different to Hong Kong’s bei fung tong (typhoon shelter crab), which is topped with fried garlic. The Sichuan version is not for the faint of heart; it’s loaded with numbing peppercorns, black pepper and chilli. The seasonings are perfect with the succulent meatiness of mud crab. Eating it is a messy business, but part of the joy is that it’s finger-licking good. The crabs are cut into sections, deep-fried to seal in the sweet juices, then tossed in the chilli mixture. A drink to go with this dish needs to have freshness and purity to mix and shine through the chilli spice but, more importantly, to enhance the sweetness of the crab. The tannins in red wine will destroy the delicate crab meat and kick the whole dish out of balance.
Martin Miller’s Gin, Britain
Do you remember the craze for Bombay Sapphire gin a decade ago? Well, now it’s Martin Miller’s turn. This gin is just so pure it has all the elegance of fine wine and it’s aromatic yet restrained. Take a sip and you’ll taste loads of herbs and spices blossoming. It’s well balanced and the alcohol does not seem out of place or hot. It’s a great complement for Sichuan crab; the spices in the gin and the crab mutually extend and expand each other. The gin freshness lifts the crab’s succulence. Try the gin as a straight martini to get the true benefit of this classy, complex and stylish drink. Available for HK$360 at Victoria Wines (tel: 3469 9988)
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand
This is the name that started the New Zealand sauvignon blanc craze – and it’s still going strong, 30 years later. Cloudy Bay, from the picturesque Marlborough Sounds on New Zealand’s north island, has an abundance of freshness and lively fruit. It’s a wonderful wine to go with Sichuan crab. The sweet fruit elevates the chilli spice while the wine’s freshness supports that of the crab. Don’t serve it too cold or you’ll get more than the intended dose of crisp natural acidity.
Available for HK$268 at Watson’s Wine Cellar (tel: 2606 8828)
Charles Melton Rosé of Virginia 2011, Barossa Valley, Australia
Made of the flavourful grenache grape from the Barossa Valley, this is one of the most “wine-like” of rosés. It’s seriously fruity and structured, and goes superbly with Sichuan crab. It has richness without being excessive and there is plenty of fruit to match the Sichuan spices. Serve the rosé chilled and the crab hot.
Available for HK$230 at Oliver’s (tel: 2869 5119)
Simon Tam is Christie’s head of wine, China. Flavour Colours, his iPhone Chinese food and wine pairing app, can be found on www. iwinecentre.com/iwine-en/flavour-colours.php