Shark’s Fin Soup: Is the Fin Worth the Cut?

After a delicious dim sum meal at Hung To Seafood restaurant, I decided to take a look at the banquet menus that were posted by the front door.  Shark’s Fin Soup was listed at $48… $48!  I can’t believe it!  I’m a Chinese American dude that’s been eating Shark’s Fin at most family special occasions, and I can’t figure out why an order of Shark’s Fin could or should even be that expensive.  This is nothing new, there has always been controversy over the treatment of sharks.  Sharks are caught at sea, fishermen cut their fins off, then release them back to the water.  This kills a bunch of sharks.  With the rise in middle-class Chinese in the world, we see much overfishing of many different species of sharks.

When I was a kid, I once asked my father why we drank Shark’s Fin Soup.  I always noticed that we always put a little Cognac or red vinegar into the soup.  This signified to me that the soup didn’t taste right.  Why then, was this soup so popular? My father mentioned that the Chinese believed that Shark’s fin was a sign of wealth and power.  How would this be a sign of wealth and power, when almost everyone is eating it?  To me, this is no longer a sign of wealth.  I would rather spend that $48 on something like Troya for a Turkish dinner for two.  Was it the texture?  The crunchy, gelatinous texture?  You could tell the cheap Shark’s Fin soup from the rich, by the texture and shape the Shark’s Fin was served in the soup.  As the Shark’s Fin’s shape was broken, the cheaper the bowl of Shark’s Fin.  Sometimes, you’d get the really cheap stuff, and it would just look like Vermicelli noodles.  Why then, can’t we just put Vermicelli noodles in our Chicken broth soup?  Let’s undercook that Vermicelli so that there’s the gelatinous and throw some chicken cartilage for that crunch.

As I pondered this, I saw a bus advertisement on my way home.  It was a picture of the Chinese Frankenstein, Yao Ming, covering a bowl of soup.  The text said, “Shark’s Fin Soup? Yao says no.”  There you have it, the most popular guy in China, next to Aaron Kwok says “No.”

What’s your take on Shark’s Fin soup?

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