Shark Fin Soup
Shark Fin Soup © Wikimedia Commons, Andrew Fung.

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Asia and plays an important role within a centuries old Chinese tradition.

Shark fin soup, known in Asia as Yu Tu (fish wing) is traditionally served to honour special guests and celebrations. Immense pressure may be put on couples to serve this delicacy at weddings in order to fittingly honour their guests. The dish is seen as a prestigious commodity and acts as a symbol of high status; one bowl of shark fin soup can cost as much as £100, depending on the quality of the shark fin used.

Although the fin itself is tasteless and the soup is flavoured with pork or chicken, the fibres from the fins provide a glutinous texture, which defines the dish. There are however alternative imitation recipes available and it is possible to recreate the texture by substituting fins for melon. However these substitutes fail to exude the same prestige as the original dish. Shark fin soup is also viewed as a type of health tonic equivalent to chicken soup in western cultures. As well as this the cartilage in shark fins is believed to cure cancer and dried shark fins are often used as an aphrodisiac.

In Asia many people may be unaware that ‘celebration soup’ contains shark fins and that high demand for the product is impacting on shark populations. Although there is an emerging awareness and some individuals are making a stand by refusing to serve or consume this dish, some restaurants have even removed shark fin soup from their menu.

➤ Join the Shark Trust's Stop Shark Finning Campaign today.