Eco-island a crab, rice and tangerine dream
Chongming Island is a world-class eco-island. It boasts an abundance of natural beauty, seasonal delicacies. The ongoing Crab, Tangerine and Hybrid Rice Festival has much to offer during the golden autumn season.
Once considered a cheap food because they were small and bony, Chongming crabs are on the comeback trail thanks to scientific breeding. The indigenous crustacean is bigger, meatier and with more roe nowadays and can compare with hairy crab, the more famous species in the Yangtze River Delta region. The two are close relatives and look similar.
Lying at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Chongming is the breeding ground of crabs and other aquatic animals because of good water and rich food resources. Thanks to the special area where fresh and salty sea water meet, the crab tastes a little salty and you don’t need to eat with sauces. With tasty roe and fragrant flesh, these delicious crustaceans are a must-have in autumn.
Chongming has a long history of breeding crabs and many of the island’s specialty dishes include crab meat. This year, Baodao Crab Farm in Luhua Town has built a 40-mu (2.7-hectare) “crab breeding forest” featuring more than 8,000 pond cypress. This well-protected ecological environment gives the crabs a wildlife-like living area. This new breeding style has been applied to the 600-mu area on the farm too.
“Chongming crab used to be nicknamed wuxiaoxie — or dark small crab. Most male crabs used to weigh less than 150 grams, while females were less than 100 grams. But things are different these years,” said Huang Chun, president of Shanghai Baodao Crab Farm and Shanghai River Crab Industry Association.
At the opening ceremony of the festival, the farm announced the male king crab was weighing in at 344 grams while the female queen crab was averaging around 220 grams.
Meanwhile, you can try to fish the crabs on the pond. The farm also provides accommodation for visitors. More importantly, this is the place for a hearty feast on crabs.
Walking under the tangerine trees laden with fragrant, ripening fruits is a sheer delight for urban dwellers. Tangerine season on Chongming Island usually runs from October to December, and now is the best time to enjoy these delightful trees and their refreshing fruit.
Chongming started large-scale tangerine growing nearly 30 years ago and now has more than 5,000 hectares of fields, accounting for over 80 percent of Shanghai’s tangerine growing area. The largest three fields are in Luhua Town, Changxing Town and Hengsha Village.
Chongming tangerines have received numerous awards and accolades over the years thanks to their delicious taste and eco-friendly growing practices. With thin peels and juicy flesh, the tangerines are both delicious and a good source of vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene.
Visitors are welcome to come and admire the tangerine blossoms, and even pick a few tangerines themselves. You can go cycling in the town and pick tangerines to eat. They can also learn how to make a tangerine lamp.
Chongming’s harvest season has produced a new hybrid rice from its land that uses only organic fertilizer. The brand “Chongming Rice” is prized for its good taste and smell. The paddies where it is grown are all weeded by hand. Ducks, frogs and solar-powered bug-zappers are used for pest control. The farm also set up an online retrospective system that allows consumers to check growth process of rice.
With the concept of non-chemistry-fertilizer and non-pesticide, Chongming will bring more green products to the public including vegetables and fruits.