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NORMAL CHEF: Shark Fin Soup

In honor of Shark Week, I thought that I would share an unusual recipe with everyone. I have to tell you up front this is not something that I would ever make or try because I do not approve of the methods used to obtain the fin meat. As I stated when I first started writing this article, I also hoped to educate people on some unique culinary dishes as well as some classics and some of my own.

Shark fin soup is mainly a  haute cuisine dish found in China and Vietnam, it gained popularity in the Song dynasty serving the imperial family and court members for special occasions. Once trade and commercial fishing became more viable, the soup gained popularity, especially among-st the higher income populace. But to what expense, the life of a magnificent predator just living its own life?

International concerns over the sustainability and welfare of the sharks, which breed later in life and only birth 2 to 3 pups at a time, have impacted the consumption and availability of the soup. In China alone it has been reduced by 50-70% between 2011 and 2013. Imitation shark fin has become popular alternative which uses substitute food products to replicate the fins chewy, gelatinous texture, and in some cases people will even use vermicelli. So then tell me why to this day we can still purchase the shark fin meat.

A variety of shark species are used for this soup. Raw fins are processed, removing the skins and scales, trimming them to shape and bleaching them to a more desirable color. The fins are sold dried, cooked, wet, and frozen. They are basically tasteless and the flavor of the soup comes from either the ham stock or the chicken stock used to make this soup.

In order to obtain the fin meat, they use any species of shark that they capture, removing the dorsal,pectoral, and caudal fins and then discarding the rest of the shark either throwing them back in the ocean where they are no longer capable of swimming and they die or just letting them whither and die on the docks. This is an atrocity and needs to be stopped. What if it was your own personal pet, being treated in such a heinous manner?

A traditional recipe for shark fin soup is:

  •   1 can of shark fin: Instead use vermicelli or cellophane noodles!
  •   1 can of drained bamboo shoots
  •    chopped scallions
  •    black Chinese mushrooms, 3 to 4 per bowl
  •    1-2 cups of chicken broth per serving
  •    pre-dissolve cornstartch
  •    1 package of bean thread

Natilie Cavnar is a cooking fanatic who loves to try new recipes, and create some of her own, ask her what you want at thenormalchef@gmail.com.