The season for hairy crab is nearing its end. A delicacy that baffles the uninitiated, it is eaten for its rich roe (the term, here, including sperm) rather than its flesh, like other types of crab. The roe of the female crab is bright orange and has the consistency of hard-boiled egg yolk, while the male sperm is white and very sticky. Digging it out requires intimate knowledge of the crab's anatomy or much of it will go to waste.
Hairy crab is traditionally accompanied by Shanghainese yellow wine, which, when good, tastes similar to amontillado sherry. Other drinks will serve - but they need to able to stand up against the crab's intense succulent sweetness, and leave the palate feeling cleansed.
Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or, Scotland
This is one of the silkiest single malts around - just the dram for these cool evenings. It's also a great match for hairy crab. This Nectar d'Or was finished in casks used to age sauternes. The whisky is noticeably perfumed and lush, and marries well into the supple richness of the crab roe while offering heightened notes of lively freshness. The balanced and mellow alcohol tightens the finish, refreshing the palate long and seamlessly.
HK$600, Watson's Wine Cellar (tel: 2606 8828)
Krug Grande Cuvee, Reims, France
This is one of the best champagnes and sipping it is such a pleasure. It's great with hairy crab roe and tofu. The richness and elegance of the champagne serves to widen the focused weight of the crab roe, and the Krug has plenty of creamy gas to massage the velvety tofu. The combination is light in weight, but it fills the senses.
HK$1,250 at Watson's Wine Cellar
Martin Miller's Gin, England.
This is one of the best gins in the world. It is both full-flavoured and elegant. A martini made with this gin is the ultimate complement for steamed male hairy crab. The subtlety of the crab is washed through by the gin's delicate aromatics,. The intense stickiness of the crab is also perfectly balanced by the martini's refreshing temperature and the long, lingering finish.
HK$360 at Victoria Wines (tel: 3469 9988)
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