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Shark Fin Cookery

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Unusual Ingredients

Summer Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(2) page(s): 33 and 34


Fish, and most particularly the fins of sharks, are considered beneficial to health. Much has been written about the latter over the centuries. In the last issue of this magazine (Volume 14 (1) on pages 5 and 26), an article detailed a few of these. Not enough space, a problem in more and more issues, curtailed things in that article. Such was the case for recipes for shark's fins, an honorific food probably eaten in China for more than two thousand years. It is a food that became the delicacy and 'must have' at banquets that Chinese believe they need to this day. The way they like this pu food best is in a superior soup.

Those with environmental concerns worry about over-fishing. That, yet they still want to see these fins grace their banquet tables. Some are using imitation or look-alike products so cultural context remains; others still want the real thing. Recipes for both follow, with the last recipe using a look-alike for the fins. The picture on this page is of a very fine Braised Shark's Fin Soup made in an ancient method. It graces part of a page in R & G Lounge's newest menu, and many of this restaurants banquet tables. For more about that restaurant, it was written about in this issue and can be found in the Restaurant reviews; there is more in an earlier article about this San Francisco eatery in Volume 12 (3); it was on pages 27 and 28.
Shark's Fin Soup II
Ingredients:
1 small shark's fin, three to four ounces
1 cup chicken bouillon
2 slices fresh ginger, minced and mixed with two tablespoons of hot water
1 Tablespoon good Chinese rice wine
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
4 cups superior chicken stock
1 Tablespoon minced Yunnan ham
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon premium thin soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup mung bean spouts, heads and tails removed
2 Tablespoons coriander, coarsely minced
Preparation:
1. Steam the shark's fin in chicken bouillon and ginger water for half an hour. Gently remove fin and cut it into four pieces, center to tip. Set aside.
2. Mix rice wine, bouillon powder, superior stock, ham, and vinegar, Put in a clay pot and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes then add oyster sauce, soy sauce, and ground pepper and stir well. Next add the shark's fin pieces, bean sprouts, and coriander, and stir again. Serve this soup in the pot it was cooked in.
Shark's Fin with Crab Meat
Ingredients:
6 ounces dried shark's fin
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 slices fresh ginger, minced and mixed with two tablespoons of hot water
1/2 cup crab meat, shredded
2 cups superior chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon bouillon powder
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of cold water
dash ground white pepper
Preparation:
1. In a bowl, steam shark's fin, wine, fresh ginger water, and one cup of water over boiling water for forty minutes. Remove and cool, then separate the needles, if desired, and set aside.
2. Blanch the shredded crab meat in three cups of boiling water for one minute, drain, and set aside. Strain the water, and set it aside.
3. Heat superior stock, in a heat-proof crock, then add strained crab water and the bouillon powder. Add the cornstarch water and the ground pepper, and as it starts to thicken, add shark's fin needles and the shredded crab, meat, and serve.
Shark's Fin with Crab Roe
Ingredients:
6 ounces dried shark's fin
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 slices fresh ginger, minced and mixed with two tablespoons of hot water
1/4 cup crab roe, blanched in boiling water for half minute, then drained
2 cups superior chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon bouillon powder
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of cold water
dash ground white pepper
Preparation:
1. Steam shark's fin, wine, fresh ginger water, and one cup of water in a bowl set over boiling water for forty minutes. Remove and cool, then separate the needles, and set aside.
2. Un-clump the roe by pulling it apart into small batches,. Set it aside.
3. Heat superior stock, in a heat-proof crock and add the bouillon powder. Add the cornstarch water and the ground pepper, and as it starts to thicken, add shark's fin needles and the crab roe, Do not stir, simply serve some needles and roe and liquid to each person.
Steamed Shark's Fin Bundles
Ingredients:
1/4 pound dried shark's fin
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 slices fresh ginger, minced and mixed with two tablespoons of hot water
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
2 scallions, blanched for one minute
1 ounce Yunnan ham, cut into eight sticks
1 cup superior stock
8 pieces bamboo fungus, soaked in hot water for five minutes
1 cup slivered zucchini with peel left on, steamed for one minute
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of cold water
dash ground white pepper
Preparation:
1. In a bowl, steam over boiling water, the shark's fin, wine, fresh ginger water, bouillon, and one cup of water for forty minutes over boiling water. Remove, drain, and cool, then separate into needles, and set aside.
2. Cut scallions into eight pieces of green.
3. Divide shark’s fin needles into eight batches, put one ham strip in each and wrap each batch in the center with a scallion green.
4. Bring superior stock to the boil, and add bamboo fungus and simmer for two minutes. Drain and set aside. Reserve stock in the pot.
5. Add zucchini to the stock, and bring to the boil, then drain it. Add the cornstarch water to the pot, and stir until thickened.
6. Plate the zucchini in the center of a round plate. Alternate bamboo fungus and shark's fin bundles around the outside of this; and sprinkle the ground pepper all over it. Then pour the thickened stock over the entire plate, and serve.
Imitation Shark's Fin Soup
Ingredients:
1/2 ounce dry mung bean noodles
2 Tablespoons imitation meat, cut into slivers
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 whole egg, beaten
2 Chinese black mushrooms, soaked, stems removed, and slivered
2 Tablespoons slivered cloud ear mushrooms
4 cups superior chicken stock
2 Tablespoons water chestnut flour mixed with two tablespoons of water
1 Tablespoon imitation oyster sauce
Preparation:
1. Soak bean thread noodles in warm water for twenty minutes. Drain, and cut them into two inch lengths, and mix with the slivers of imitation meat.
2. Heat oil, in a fry pan, add egg, and spread it all over the pan. Cook until just set, remove, and cut into thin two inch long slivers.
3. Heat chicken stock, add mushroom and cloud ear slivers and simmer for two minutes, then add imitation meat and bean thread noodles. Stir in the water chestnut flour and the imitation oyster sauce. Bring to the boil, then serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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