Monday, March 18, 2013

Shark Finning

I remember accompanying my parents to  Chinese wedding banquets when I was a child. In Manila a Chinese banquet is called a "lauriat."  I guess any banquet where there are typically 17 to 18 dishes served  one after the other must deserve a special name.

I remember eating my first "century egg" in one of those banquets. For those not in the know, century eggs are  cured and preserved duck eggs. The yolk is creamy and greenish while the white is  a gel-like translucent brown.  The egg has a slight sulfuric smell.

The odorous egg does not bother me. In fact I've developed a taste for it over the years.

What bothers me is the shark-fin soup which is usually served in "lauriats."  I did not realize until I was an adult that I had been an unwitting indirect participant to the cruel killing of sharks. By eating shark fin soup, I was patronizing the dish and encouraging shark finning.

A shark uses its fins to get oxygen from the water. When its fins are detached,  the shark  either slowly bleeds to death or quickly becomes snack or dinner for other predators. says that 3 sharks die every second so that we can eat shark-fin soup.

Mention the word "shark" and instantaneously we cringe in terror with thoughts of shark attacks, floating bloody legs or arms, or worse decapitated torsos.

Many do not realize that sharks also have an important role in balancing the eco-system. Take away the sharks and you have less shellfish.  Sharks eat other predators like Sting and Manta Rays that feed on shellfish. A low-number of shellfish means a decline in water quality as shellfish act as filters.

Though now banned in many Asian  restaurants and, the canned versions, in stores, shark fin soup is prized  for its alleged invigorating, rejuvenating and aphrodisiac-like qualities.  A bowl can easily cost $100.00.

From what I remember, the soup was nothing spectacular.  The fins were gelatinous and somewhat crunchy. The soup's flavor came from its stock.

Say, as in  a dark  and cold Alfred Hitchcock movie,  we start harvesting human  limbs for  prized human-limb soup, would we start taking "sanctity of life" seriously? 

Over ten thousand shark fins are dried on the rooftop of a factory building in Hong Kong, on January 2, 2013. Local sales of the luxurious gourmet food have fallen in recent years due to its controversial nature, but activists demand a total shark fin ban in the city, labelled by some as the shark fin capital of the world. The fins were shipped from an unknown location and unloaded at a nearby pier to be dried on the rooftop. (Reuters/Bobby Yip) -- Source:
 A Century Egg

 - Ariel Murphy


  1. I've never had either and never will, but have been reading much about the sharks on and other sites. I've seen the shark fin picture online before...ugh...sad...never knew about the "Century Egg" though. Sulfur smell never bothers me either - Yellowstone had some pretty strong smelling areas, and in the old days of practice, we used to used the straight Carbon Disulfide liquid via stomach tube to kill the stomach bots in horses' stomachs.

    1. I'll never eat shark-fin soup again. Thanks for commenting, Pete.

    2. Never had the soup. But I LIKE century eggs...and I am mega-picky about food!

    3. Century eggs are available in Montana?