No Shark Fin Soup For Our Wedding Banquet

Braised sea cucumber in superior sauce
Braised sea cucumber in superior sauce

When is a Chinese wedding banquet not a Chinese wedding banquet? Does the exclusion of shark fin soup and braised sea cucumber with abalone make it any less traditional? These exotic marine products cooked in various ways are as staple in Chinese wedding banquets as the copious amount of free-flowing brandy and shouts of yam seng punctuating the already jovial atmosphere.

Chinese banquets are all about “face” of the hosts. Therefore, the hosts will always attempt to go all out at serving dishes with ingredients that are exotic and expensive at banquets. Anything less and the hosts will lose face before their guests. As for me, I am more concerned about how the ingredients used are being harvested to extinction than losing face.

A while back, I watched on the Discovery channel how fins were hacked off and the sharks thrown back into the sea still alive to die a slow agonizing death. It was there and then that I decided that if I ever hold a wedding banquet, I will never serve shark fin soup. Likewise, abalones and sea cucumbers have become endangered species due to over-exploitation.

If not shark fin, sea cucumber and abalone then what? Changing times demand a change in traditions. Although I have grown up with the impression that these are must-haves at wedding banquets, I am sure the restaurants will be able to come out with alternative dishes for the menu. There are so many other commonly available ingredients to cook up delicious dishes with.