Shark Fin Soup Harms Shark Population

The other day, I read a TIME magazine article titled “Killer Cuisine” that shed light on shark fin consumption in China. Apparently, sharks are captured and “finned” for food, leaving mutilated sharks left to die.

Chinese culture prizes these shark fins for a special dish known as shark-fin soup. Sometimes, these soups are priced as high as $100 per bowl. They’re normally served during special occasions such as weddings. Krista Mahr, the author of the aforementioned article, claims that she was “underwhelmed by the dish, the flavor of which comes mostly from the broth.” Furthermore, the article stated that “73 million sharks are killed for their fins” yearly, “despite the fact that 30% of the shark species are threatened… with extinction.”

Shark-fin soups make no sense logically. They are atrociously detrimental to the environment and should be banned, along with the practice of mutilating a shark for its fins. While many countries have enacted laws against shark finning, China is not as strict on shark finning due to the cultural value of shark fins.

One of the more interesting steps taken to eliminate the damaging effects of shark fin soup is the application of molecular gastronomy to produce faux shark fin soup. In this video, Corey Lee, a chef at wildly-popular restaurant French Laundry, has worked with others chefs to utilize techniques such as calcium ion precipitation to create a sustainable shark-fin soup. The video does not indicate what liquid he used for the actual shark fin however.

Shark fin is slivered into noodles when served in shark-fin soup. In the video, Corey Lee shows the use of ham and chicken to create a savory broth for the shark fin.

What are your thoughts on shark-fin soup consumption? Should China take drastic measures to stop the practice or are cultural ties too strong to sacrifice in the name of environmental health?

About Earl

Hi, my name is Earl. I am a student who loves to analyze food and eat healthy. My careful eye for food has caused me to become interested in the science behind food and cooking, and I write about my explorations into food on my website Toastable.com. While I believe in sticking to whole, natural foods, I'm not afraid to work with avant-garde ingredients and equipment such as constant temperature water baths and sodium alginate. I also love photography, technology, and journalism.

16. October 2010 von Earl
Categories: Life, Molecular Gastronomy | Tags: , , , | 4 comments

  • handson

    "Shark-fin soup makes no sense logically"?

    a bit extreme and passionate there eh buddy?

    • http://toastable.com earl lee

      Yes, yes! You should be too.

  • Cynthia

    Dude why don't they just use normal noodles =.=

    I hope they eventually realize that they're just gonna run out of sharks to slice up. What THEN?

    The same thing is sort of happening with tuna. Sadface
    http://en.rian.ru/world/20100319/158248604.html

    • http://toastable.com earl lee

      Yes. Unfortunately, seafood is quite endangered nowadays. However, I recently read an article about genetically engineered salmon (not salmon that are injected with chemicals) that have genes allowing them to grow twice as fast and twice as big as normal salmon. Last I checked, the approval for these salmon is still undergoing review but could open the way for a plethora of other genetically modified foods. I'm really excited about this new genetic technology and its effects on the food industry!