膏腴鮮美話養蟳

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1981 / 1月

文‧梅滋 圖‧華台


蟳,是蟹類的一種,也是一種珍貴的海產食品。由於它的肉及卵味道鮮美,營養豐富,很受人喜愛,而中國人更將它視為一種滋補食品。最初,人們所食用的蟳都是從海邊捕捉來的,但由於捕捉不易,不但價錢極昂,而且往往求之也不可得。後來,養殖事業逐漸發展,人們開始在海邊圍起養蟹場,以人工科學方法來大量繁殖。今天在中華民國台灣,大量的蟳,在養蟹人家悉心的照顧下,長得肥美膏腴,海鮮餐廳不再擔心貨源不足,嗜食蟳的老饕亦經常可以大塊朵頤一番。


有趣的動物,美味的食品

蟳屬於節肢動物門的甲殼綱,頭胸甲呈開扇形,邊緣有鋸齒,體色呈青褐色或暗青綠色,甲面平滑無毛,有五對腳,其中第一對特別發達,稱螯腳,呈鉗狀,可做為捕食或防禦之用,其餘的四對稱步腳。

步腳具有步行、游泳、潛砂、鉤釣等功能。每一隻腳由七個環節組成,由於這些環節只能作橫向爬走的彎曲,所以蟳只能左右橫走,不能前進或後退。

從成熟卵孵出的蟳幼體,稱為水蚤期幼蟲,呈蝦狀,和母體形狀完全不同。水蚤期幼蟲脫皮後,變為具有蟹狀的蟹前期幼蟲,這兩種形態的幼蟲都是營浮游生活。之後,再經一次脫皮,變成稚蟳,營海底及游泳生活。到這時,這隻小蟹已在世上活了十天左右了。

和其他甲殼類一樣,包圍蟳身體外圍的甲殼固定不會長大,所以蟳長到某一程度就必須脫殼一次,初時一星期一次,愈大則間隔期愈久。

蟳用鰓吸進水中的氧而營呼吸作用。牠的鰓在甲殼下的身體兩側,一共八對,呈柔軟的羽毛狀,排列得很整齊。水由步腳基節處的空隙進入,流經鰓葉間,再由口部兩側的小孔出去。

蟳被捉到陸上後,能夠耐久不死,就是因為在海綿狀的鰓葉中,含有大量的水分,還能維持呼吸。但如時間過久,鰓部漸趨乾燥,仍會因呼吸困難而導致死亡。

控制成熟度,過與不及都賣不出好價錢

辨別蟳的雌雄可從腹臍的形狀看出。雄的臍呈尖三角形,雌的類似半圓形。一般將未交配的雌蟳稱「幼母」,由於腹臍呈灰黑色,又稱「黑幼母」,和雄蟳共稱為「菜蟳」。

食用上來說,菜蟳中以蟳殼堅硬且肉豐的為佳,而黑幼母雌蟳,甲內有膏,更是菜蟳中的上品,是講究吃蟳的人所喜愛的。

當然蟳中價錢最昂貴、最美味可口的,還是「紅蟳」——即甲內受精卵成熟在八分程度以上的雌蟳。一隻蟳脫殼至第十二次左右即成「幼母」,幼母交配後則稱「空母」,檢查空母的方法,可將一元錢幣壓開胸甲後緣與腹部中間,若有一白點,就是空母,那白點是交配後貯精囊所露出的部份。

從交配完成的空母,長成紅蟳,大約需一個月到四十天的時間。市面上所賣的紅蟳,又依其成熟度分:五分仁、八分仁、九分仁……等,愈成熟者價格愈高。但若過熟,而卵已排出體外者,俗稱「開花蟳」,則價值驟降。

紅蟳不但味道腴美,中國人更視為無上補品,坊間流傳的說法是:紅蟳的卵特別有「補腎」的功能;而對產後婦女亦極滋補,吃一隻紅蟳,就等於吃了兩隻老母雞。

經過科學分析,果真營養豐富

另外有人以紅蟳燉枸杞子,聽說吃了可以防止掉頭髮;與糙米同燉,則聽說可以來療內傷。

據營養專家分析蟳的養分,每一公斤蟳肉,含有甲種維生素八.九四○國際單位,蛋白質二十一克,脂肪八.九克,醣十一克,鈣、磷、鐵等共○.四三克,還有其他多種營養物質,的確是營養豐富。而蟹黃中更含有大量的荷爾蒙。

臺灣自民國三十年時就有人開始養蟳,那時都與虱目魚、草蝦等混養,以屏東縣的東港、林邊,臺南的安平、四草以及嘉義、雲林等地較多。後來慢慢有專業養蟹場,由於紅蟳價格極好,有人更專門收購已交配、但蟹黃尚未成熟的空母,細心地蓄養,並給予營養豐富的餌料,待卵巢充實飽滿時以好價錢出售。

菜蟳的養殖池一般都圍築在沿海處,每池在一千坪左右(紅蟳池較小,約三百坪左右),池底舖以含砂質較多的土壤,並向一邊傾斜,在較深的一方,需挖一條寬約一公尺的水溝通往水門,以便在排乾池水時能讓蟳逃入水溝集中捕捉。

以人力控制一個理想的養殖環境

蟹池的水深約半公尺多,而水的鹽分濃度需維持在20到30%之間。一般蟹池都裝有兩個水管和一個抽水機,一個水管是灌海水用的,另一則是灌淡水用的。養蟹人家利用水管和抽水機調節水的鹽度和保持水質的乾淨,以提供最適宜的生長環境。

由於世界上蟳的人工繁殖研究尚未成功,人們尚無法用人工養活浮游時期的幼蟹。因此,養蟹者的蟹苗都來自海中,這種蟹苗,就是已長成營游泳生活的稚蟳,臺灣沿海終年都有,但以六、七、八月最多,由沿海居民到海中撈捕賣給養蟹場。

這些蟹苗買回來後,不分雌雄和大小,統統放入同一池裡,業者稱為「總蟳池」,然後以螺類、雜魚為飼料加以餵食。

養殖得宜,一般大型蟹苗(身長四∼五公分)約經二個月,小型蟹苗(二∼三公分)約經三個月,部份雌蟳即開始交配成「空母」。

已交配的空母,因為身價不同,就把牠們撈出來,集中飼養,或賣給專養紅蟳的業者,給予特別的照顧,而飼養成價昂的紅蟳。

因為食螺肉的紅蟳,蟹黃呈赤紅,較受消費者歡迎,所以紅蟳餌料都以螺類為主。根據業者的經驗,紅蟳以每年五、六月和十、十一月最多,八月最少,而其中又以十月的紅蟳最大最好。

養殖過程,費心費力

至於雄蟳,一般選捕甲幅在十公分左右而硬殼的出售。如不適時收捕,任其自由生長,雄蟳經三次交配以後,就變成「騷公」,此時,不但蟳肉乾癟,色暗而黑,且殼極其厚、硬,就完全失去食用價值。

人工養殖的蟳,雖然來源較固定,但因需注意餵食、調整池水的鹽分與溫度,且必須在長成「騷公」或「開花蟳」以前出售,費去養蟹人家可觀的時間、金錢和精力,所以蟳的價格仍較一般海鮮為高。

除此而外,蟳的消費量且隨著各地海鮮店的林立而不斷的在增加,許多養蟹場都因此而致富了。位於屏東縣東港的吳忠義一家就是一個例子。

吳家從父親吳清江開始養蟹,十五年來,養蟹池已從起初的三十多坪拓展到今日的五甲地了。

吳清江年紀大了以後,三個兒子繼續養蟹的工作。由於長期的養蟹經驗,他們對蟳的生長過程已能完全掌握,他們養的蟳不但死亡率低,收穫量高,且養得又大、蟹黃又多,因而聲名遠播,不但替吳家帶來了大批的訂單,更替他們賺進了大把的鈔票。

每天清晨五點和下午三點,是他們撈蟳的時間。撈起來的蟳用黑粗的草繩把八隻腳、兩個鉗纏綑在一起,以保持腳的完整以及避免傷到人。

捕捉、養殖皆不易,價格因此居高不下

早晨撈起的蟳往嘉義以南的地區供銷。下午出池的,則送往高雄火車站,利用九點鐘的夜車北上,次日清晨五點以前到達萬華,有人會來接應,上午八時以前就送進了大臺北的各家餐廳。

吳家每日供銷的蟳在一萬隻以上,海產店的老闆都稱吳家為「養蟹大王」。

現在負責吳家養蟹場工作的吳忠義指出:蟳的售價是以「隻」計算的,而紅蟳更分大、中、小三個等級。體型的測定以甲殼寬幅為標準,寬四台寸以上的稱大蟳,產地批發售價約為新台幣二百一十元,但是到了台北的海產店,經過烹調端上餐桌,售價就要四百五十元左右。

四台寸以下的稱中蟳,產地價約為一百六十元。三寸七以下的小蟳,產地價約一百一十元,可是海產店都賣二百五十元左右。

蟳是一種高貴的海產,因為牠除了營養豐富而外,不論是養殖或捕捉都需付很大的代價,故售價不可能便宜。吳忠義說:「我能把養蟳生意做得這麼大、賣得這麼多,最主要還是因為現在大家錢都賺得多了,生活富裕注重美食,否則我養得再好、蟹黃再多也是銷不出去的。」

〔圖片說明〕

P.64、P.65

圖1:蟳是蟹類的一種,原來生長在海中,由於它的肉及卵味道鮮美、營養豐富,早就是人們喜愛的一種海鮮食品。圖2:由於人們對蟳的大量需求,海邊捕捉已不敷所需,近年來人工養殖的養蟹場在台灣沿海四處可見,而以屏東東港一帶為最多。圖3:捕捉成熟的蟳時,須先將池中的水放掉。

P.66、P.67

圖1:滿籮筐成熟肥大的紅蟳,將為蟹農帶來大筆的收入。圖2:捕捉紅蟳後,用手捂著甲面邊緣,在陽光下照視,以分辨卵的成熟度,愈成熟的售價愈高。圖3:紅蟳中的卵子味道腴美,含有多種的養份與荷爾蒙,是老饕吃蟳時的重點所在。圖4:將蟳和糯米、香菇、蔥、薑等配料一起蒸,便是一道美味可口的「八寶蟳飯」了。

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EN

Crab King


In the traditions of the Shanghai style of cuisine, a meal is not considered complete without a dish of crab. As more and more people have become able to afford this delicious and nutritious food, the supply of crabs has dwindled. To meet the rising demand in homes and restaurants, therefore, a flourishing crab culture industry has arisen in Taiwan.

The culture of crabs in fact began more than 50 years ago, during the period of the Japanese occupation of the island. At that time, crabs were often cultivated alongside milkfish in farms scattered in the coastal districts of Pingtung, Tainan, Chiayi and Yunlin counties. Farms specializing solely in crabs have only been established in recent years, as it was realized that fertilized female crabs can fetch a much higher price.

The average crab pond covers an area of about 3,000 square meters, wit h the bottom usually paved with sand. A one-meter-wide gutter at the end of the pond is served to trap the crabs when water of the pond is emptied. The water in the pond is maintained at 2.5 meters deep, while salinity is 20 to 30 percent. Each pond is equipped with a pump to keep it filled with salt or fresh water.

Since so far all efforts to breed crabs in captivity have failed, crab spawn must be collected from the sea. After being fed on snails and fish for two or three months, the crabs start to mate. Because fertilized female crabs fetch a much higher price, they are collected and sold to a specialized farm. Crabs fed with fresh-water snails turn bright red when cooked, and are particularly prized among gourmets. Male crabs are sold when they reach a width of about 10 centimeters. If they are allowed to mate more than three times, their shells become dark and hard, and their flesh is tough.

Because crabs need constant supervision, their culture is not an easy task. The supply of snails for their diet is also limited. But as standards of living have risen, and seafood restaurants have become more popular, crab farmers are assured of a handsome profit. Among the many such farmers who have become millionaires is Wu Chung-yi of Tungkang in Pingtung County in southern Taiwan.

Wu's farm was established 15 years ago by his father, Wu Ching-ching. Since then it has been expanded from an area of 100 square meters to 50,000 square meters. Wu Ching-ching's three sons have become masters at the trade since they took over the business several years ago. They have learned how to minimize the death rate among crabs, and they can grow bigger fertilized crabs in a much shorter period. As their reputation spread far and wide, they made a fortune from their business.

The Wu brothers start to gather their haul at 5 a.m., and bind the crabs' legs and bodies together with straw. The morning catch is sold to customers south of Chiayi, while the afternoon catch is sent to Kaohsiung and from there to Taipei by the night train. The crabs reach Taipei's major restaurants by 1 a.m. Since the Wus supply the market with more than 10,000 crabs a day, it is no wonder they have been dubbed "crab kings".

Under Wu Chung-yi's supervision, the crabs are sold according to size. A crab with a width of more than 5 inches is regarded as large, and fetches a price of NT$210 (US$5.80). It is resold by a restaurant in Taipei for as much as NT$450. A crab with a width of less than 5 inches is regarded as medium size, and sells for NT$160, while a small crab of less than 4.4 inches brings NT$110. The minimum price in a restaurant is like ly to be NT$250 per crab.

Says Wu matter-of-factly: "I am prosperous because the people are prosperous. Without the high standard of living in Taiwan, who could afford to buy my crabs?"

[Picture Caption]

1. The serrated type of crab is most prized by Chinese gourmets because of its delicious meat and nutritious roe. 2. As serrated crabs are in short supply, Taiwan farmers have begun to cultivate them in coastal areas. 3. Water is drained to harvest adult crabs.

1. Crabs bring a high market price for farmers. 2. Fertilized crabs being examined in the sun to determine the quantity of their eggs. A crab filled with roe can command a high price. 3. A fertilized crab is also cal led a red crab. Its red eggs are said to be rich in hormones. 4. Serrate d crabs stewed together with glutinous rice, mushroom, onion, ginger and three other ingredients in a dish known as "crabs with eight treasures. "

 

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