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Shark Fin Soup Harms Shark Population

Posted Oct 16 2010 6:39am

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?

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