Can Tilapia Take the Place of Shark in Shark Fin Soup?

California has made international news with our recent effort to ban the sale of shark fin soup, the Chinese delicacy that unfortunately is leading to the extinction of too many shark species. Now comes word from a Taiwanese fish farmer that he has a perfect solution, one that doesn't necessarily ban the soup: substitute tilapia fins for the shark fin.

Skeptical? Tell that to Wang Yi-feng.

He told Taiwan Today

that, after a year of trying, he discovered that a tilapia's caudal fin (otherwise known as the tail fin) is almost an exact match to the shark's pectoral and dorsal fins once prepared in soup form.

"Wang, who graduated from Da-Yeh University's Department of Food Science and Technology, said tilapia fins--just like shark fins--are composed mainly of cartilage, which is flavorless but has a chewy consistency favored by diners," Taiwan Today reported.

Hmm...maybe one of you chefs out there who have tried shark fin soup can report back to us if this is the case. But the bigger problem I see is that, even if true, how many people want to buy tilapia fin soup as a substitute for shark fin? The cachet of the dish, of course, is its exotic nature (like foie gras and caviar), and tilapia ain't exactly a rarity. Still, one can dream...

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