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秋日话蟹 鲜美浮现

2019-12-13王寒

文化交流 2019年11期
关键词:蟹黄台州螃蟹

王寒

螃蟹浑身披甲,面目狰狞,长得像夜叉,但恁地一身嫩肉却惹人爱煞。

蟹是人间的至味,谁说不是呢?咱的口福真好啊,一年到头,菜场上都有各种蟹卖,有什么梭子蟹、青蟹、大闸蟹、田蟹、岩头蟹(三眼蟹)、沙蟹等等,甚至还有棺材蟹——我们这里的人,把沙蟹中的“红钳头”称为棺材蟹,大概是取其身材像棺材板之意。早些年,梭子蟹名声在外,近年来,青蟹成了蟹中的名角儿,被誉为海蟹之王。宁波、舟山、台州的梭子蟹都很出名,但青蟹则以台州的三门为最。一说到青蟹,三门人往往口出狂言,搬出明代才子祝枝山的“真乃天下第一蟹也”这句话。这样,三门青蟹几成了三门的形象代言蟹,车子一到三门境,大凡眼尖的人都会看到路边竖着的巨大广告牌,上面写着骇人的一句话:三门青蟹横行天下!三门青蟹的产量占全国五分之一,三门人当然有理由口出狂言,傲视群蟹。

谁是第一个吃螃蟹的人已无从考证,鲁迅先生把第一个吃螃蟹的人封为勇士是有道理的,因为螃蟹面目可憎,玉环人就把螃蟹叫作“唧唧鬼”,言其凶恶。宋沈括在《梦溪笔谈》里记载:“关中无螃蟹,怖其恶,以为怪物。人家每有病疟者,则借去悬门户。”关中人把螃蟹挂在门上驱邪,沈括戏谑道:“不但人不识,鬼也不识也。”不但关中如此,在江南,螃蟹曾被称为“夹人虫”,披坚执锐横行田中,糟蹋稻物,百姓叫苦不迭,急得对螃蟹哭拜,后来清官海瑞带头烧煮“夹人虫”吃,“民亦竞相捕食”,一吃而不可收。

不知从何时起,这“唧唧鬼”“夹人虫”被文人上升到“生平独此求”的高度:“予于饮食之美,无一物不能言之,且无一物不穷其想象,竭其幽渺而言之,独于蟹螯一物,终其身皆不能忘之……至其可嗜可甘与不可忘之故,则绝口不能形容。”说到螃蟹,连李渔他老人家都嫌词穷了。他把买蟹的钱称为买命钱:“予嗜此一生,每岁于蟹未出时,即储钱以待,因家人笑予以蟹为命,即自呼其钱为买命钱。”看来李渔他老人家是惜命的,只是看到螃蟹就不要命了。

螃蟹生前横行霸道,但死于非命后却极尽哀荣,“食过螃蟹有菜无味”,做蟹做到这份上也算功德圆满了。历代文人咏叹螃蟹诗无数,而厨子们对付螃蟹的方法更多,蒸焗煎炒,往往能弄出个七七八八。周作人感叹螃蟹无头无颈只能腰斩,或是囫囵蒸煮,认为这是一种非刑,但无从改良。

关于蟹馔,各地都有高招,广东有潮式冻花蟹,京菜里有芙蓉蟹黄,四川有香辣蟹,杭帮菜里有蟹酿橙,台州有年糕炒蟹之类,林林总总不下五十种。

除此之外,一些大酒店还推出鱼翅牛油焗珍宝蟹、蟹黄鱼翅、XO酱蒸蟹之类,我颇不以为然。螃蟹是至味,何必加鱼翅画蛇添足;同样,蒸蟹用花雕已极尽鲜美,难道用了XO螃蟹身价就更高?大酒店里做菜喜欢化简为繁,像汉赋和骈文,极尽辞藻华丽之能事。

蟹馔里的香辣蟹曾经在许多城市风靡一时,我以为是暴殄天物,在辣味的猛烈进攻下,螃蟹的元气大伤。

我在上海的城隍庙吃过蟹粉小笼和蟹黄烧卖,一星星的蟹肉混合了少许肉馅,打着蟹粉、蟹黄的牌子,像名家作序题签的三流作家的作品。据说还有人拿虾蛄的黄冒充蟹黄。在西安吃饺子宴时,我也品尝过蟹黄饺子,味道甚至比不上白菜猪肉饺。

青蟹的学名叫锯缘青蟹,有些地方叫它蝤蠓。刚工作不久,去饭店点菜,我还闹了个笑话:菜单上有道蝤蛑炒糕,我闹不清蝤蠓是什么,遂问服务员,服务员白了我一眼,说蝤蠓就是青蟹呗。我只能怪自己道行还不深,连青蟹就是蝤蠓,蝤蠓就是青蟹都不知。

芙蓉蝤蠓是我们台州的名菜,以蝤蠓、鸡蛋、青菜,加鸡汤、绍酒及调料烹成,色香味俱全。当地人视黄酒烹对蟹为大补——对蟹就是青蟹交配季节,雄蟹伏在雌蟹背上时被捕捉的一对鸳鸯蟹,把这对鸳鸯蟹用黄酒烹食,据说能治虚补肾。

青蟹汤面也是鲜美无比,选上等三门青蟹(别的什么蟹都烧不出这个味),将其腰斩,裹上淀粉,放油锅里过一下,然后待水滚时放入手打面和天萝丝。一碗面,有红有绿有白,其鲜无比,蟹味跑入面条,味道远甚于螃蟹炒年糕。

在新荣记饭店吃过一道菜,叫蟹肉粉丝煲,我觉得它的“艺名”应该叫“银须将军”,螃蟹横行,有将军的霸气,而粉丝白而细长,如将军之银须。“银须将军”里的“银须”味道鲜美无比,它将蟹的鲜味全盘吸收,而且极为爽滑软嫩。

五月,蟹籽上市,餐桌上又多了一道蟹籽炒咸菜。蟹籽粒粒饱满,入口有沙沙的感觉,甚是爽脆。温岭人很好这一口。

海边人做几个蟹菜不在话下,但山里人不太会烧蟹。外子是山里人,某日同学送他一箱青蟹,他一股脑儿扔进锅里,来了个一窝端。切开后,见不熟,便将螃蟹腰斩了重新煮过,弄得蟹黄满锅横流,烧落的蟹脚到处都是,我看了,痛心疾首,这简直是暴殄天物啊。

青蟹、湖蟹味美,但價格不低。有些人嗜蟹,但出不起这个价,就拿溪坑蟹和蟛蜞下酒。溪坑蟹和蟛蜞不是稀罕物,小时候到溪坑里玩水,翻开石头底,多半能找到溪坑蟹,竖着两只圆眼瞪人。有时玩着玩着,冷不防脚丫子就被溪坑蟹夹住了,拼命甩也甩不脱。前些年,我还带着孩子到灵江边的滩涂上捉蟛蜞,退潮后的滩涂上,蟛蜞到处乱爬。螃蟹大多横行,因而被人们称为“横行介士”。黄昏时候,几乎所有的蟛蜞都倾穴而出,三五成群,自得其乐地横爬着,那双潜望镜似的眼睛,总是警惕地向四周张望,稍有响动,就遁入洞里。

滩涂上的蟛蜞密密麻麻,手一伸,蟛蜞就被捉住了,把它放到玻璃瓶里,看着它吐着泡泡,怪有意思的。那些买不起上好螃蟹又想解馋的人,便将蟛蜞糊上面芡,下到油锅里炸了来咀嚼,据说味道不错。作家阿成说它“小球球一样,可以一吃一口,吃在嘴里香香的,脆脆的,如同古怪的小吃、美妙的糖丸”。夏天的晚上到望江门散步,江边人家把桌椅搬出闷热的老屋,在露天下吃晚餐,桌上往往有一碟子蟛蜞当下酒菜。不过我总觉得,蟛蜞比大衣纽扣大不了多少,似乎没多少肉可供咀嚼的。除了油炸,有人还将它腌了过饭。

到寧波、舟山、温州等地出差,常能吃到醉枪蟹。醉枪蟹是用糯米酒、盐、糖、姜、葱、花椒、八角、茴香等腌制而成的,吃时极为清爽,但很多人不敢吃,怕坏了肚子。我还吃过蟹酱,咸极。二千多年前的《周礼》中就载有“蟹胥”,据说就是螃蟹酱,不知宁波的蟹酱是否师出其中?

The crab looks hideous and ferocious. Some people in China even go so far as to compare it to Yaksha, the malevolent spirit in Buddhism. But it is a yummy delicacy especially in Zhejiang. Some gourmets even go so far as to say crabs are the best flavor in the world. Fortunately in Sanmen in eastern Zhejiang where I live, various kinds of crabs are available in food markets all the year round. 

In the past, the swimming crab (portunid) was the most favorite of gourmets. It is now replaced by the mud crab (scylla serrata). Some diners even claim the mud crab is the king of sea crabs. Sanmen is celebrated for the best mud crab in Zhejiang. The residents of Sanmen are so proud of the mud crab that they sometimes arrogantly quote Zhu Zhishan (1461-1527), a celebrated scholar of the Mind Dynasty who presumably said the mud crab of Sanmen was the best delicacy under the sun. The mud crab is the very call card of Sanmen. Outsiders approaching Sanmen by car are often amazed by the sheer conceit of some local people who trumpet in roadside billboards that the mud crabs of Sanmen run crabwise amuck in the world. The local people have the right to be proud: 20% of the countrys mud crabs are produced in Sanmen.

It would be impossible to determine who first tried the crab as food. Lu Xun (1881-1936), presumably Chinas greatest writer of the 20th century, conjectured that the first one who ate a crab must have been a hero. The statement is reasonable enough. Who would have thought of putting such a hideous creature into the mouth? In the dialect of Yuhuan in southern Zhejiang, the crab is called a ghost. Shen Kuo (1031-1095), a scientist of the Song Dynasty, noted in his  that the people in Guanzhong considered the crab horrendous and hang it on the door to exorcise the evil when someone at home fell ill. Shen joked that people didnt know what it was and believed even the ghosts didnt know what it was. In Jiangnan, crabs used to flourish in rice paddies and farmers hated them for their fierce pincers hurting farmers feet. It is said that Hai Rui, a honest government official of the Qing Dynasty, demonstrated that the crabs could be food and people followed his example. It was in the Ming Dynasty (1358-1644) that the literati favored crabs as the best delicacy in the world. Li Yu (1611-1680), a playwright of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), liked the delicacy so much that he saved money all the year round to enjoy as many as crabs in the autumn. In the past, scholars wrote so many poems about the delicacy and invented numerous recipes. In modern times, chefs across the country have cooked crabs in more innovative ways. It is estimated that there are about 50 ways to prepare crabs in the most elaborate ways in regional cuisines across the country. Some top-class restaurants even go so far as to cook crabs with western ingredients such as butter and brandy, which in my opinion is redundant. And I abhor the hot and spicy crab, a dish that was popular for a while in some cities. I dont think it is right to allow strong seasonings to destroy the original flavor of crabs.

The mud crabs are expensive. Some people turn to smaller creek crabs and amphibious crabs on the mudflat. These mini crabs are as large as a buttons. Some people wrap them in flour and fry them. Some just pickle them. Local people have their memories of how they waded into a creek and searched for creek crabs and how they saw and tried to catch numerous amphibious crabs on a mudflat after the river was at low ebb.

In coastal cities such as Ningbo, Wenzhou and Zhoushan in Zhejiang, diners like the crabs pickled in wine. In Ningbo, the crab paste, extremely salty, is a also delicacy favored by many gourmets for breakfast.

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