Wong’s King is Justifiably Willamette Week’s Rogue
An article in Willamette Week spotlights a disturbing practice by a few Portland restaurants: the use of shark fins in cooking.
If you’ve never seen sharks being harvested for their fins, it is truly horrible. The shark is brought aboard the boat, the fins sliced off, and the shark is tossed back into the water to die.
I’ve been aware that this is a very common practice in some Asian countries, but never noticed shark dishes on Portland menus. Willamette Week has highlighted Wong’s King for five kinds of shark-fin soup, which go for $26 – $29.00 a bowl. Ocean City Seafood just down the street also serves the soup.
“Disgusting.” That’s how Phil Tobin, a Portland scuba diver who has encountered de-finned shark carcasses, summarizes the practice. In March, Tobin started a letter-writing campaign to Wong’s King to urge it to drop the soup from its menu.
A growing number of people globally object to this brutal trade. Last month, The New York Times reported on a disastrous credit-card promotion by Citibank Hong Kong. After the bank offered cardholders discounts on shark-fin soup, angry Hong Kongers waged an email and Facebook campaign, and Citibank ended the promotion.
I urge you to read the entire Willamette Week article here. It includes a video which isn’t for the faint of heart. Kudo’s to Willamette Week for bringing this up.
I guess the assumption is the rest of the shark was thrown back. However, there are places that have shark on the menu that don’t do shark fin soup. Does no one get the benefit of the doubt that perhaps the shark meat at one restaurant and the fin at another could have come from the same fish? I’m not saying it did or it didn’t, but this articles makes it sound like it did, when there is no proof offered to that effect.
Food Dude says
watch the video
I don’t disagree catching a shark, cutting off its fin, and throwing it back to die in the ocean is morally reprehensible. What I would like to see is a little journalism. Where does Wong King get their shark fins? Do they use the rest of the shark? If they don’t, do they know how their fins are obtained and what happens to the rest of the fish? That’s my point here. It’s easy to read this and assume Wong’s is doing something extremely wrong – and they might be, sure – but there is nothing here that proves it. That’s all I’m saying.
I suggest that you read the book “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer for a frank look at the way that 99% of food animals are slaughtered.
Food Dude says
I wouldn’t mind nearly as much, if they didn’t waste 95% of the shark by throwing overboard.
read the book.
1. It’s pretty tasteless
2. Almost 90 million (that’s 90 and 6 zeros) sharks are finned and dumped every year
3. Hawaii is the only US state to make it illegal to possess shark fins – why?
4. Rather than have the price go through the roof as illegal things have a tendency to do, give the boats quotas, like crab. Whole fish quotas. You probably can’t catch and store very much on your little boat if the shark is still attached to the fin, and the price will of course go up but not stupidly, and some people will feel less regulated.
5. Foer is a sanctimonious ass. Diane Sawyer was 20 years ahead of him, and, nobody cared then. Only a few more care now.
6. Support your local farmers. They’re the other 1%. They care.
Whether you think he’s sanctimonious or not there are real descriptions in the book of everyday practices in slaughterhouses that are bit as cruel and wasteful as shark fin harvesting.
KATU has had two recent stories on Wong’s King, Aug. 25 and July 8. After reading the Willamette Week story yesterday, lo and behold, today there was the televised interview with the chef, and the station is offering online coupons for the “Restaurant of the Week.”
I’ve eaten a lot of purported ‘delicacies’ during my six decades on this planet, including foie gras and calf brains, but I don’t believe I’ve ever had shark fin soup. I find it infinitely more offensive to cut off a shark’s fin and throw it back than to simply eat the fin along with other parts of the shark, which I have had.
After several years as a vegetarian back in the 1970’s, I started eating tuna, then the dolphin/net controversy happened. I carefully checked labels but still had my tuna sandwiches on sprouted wheat bread and alfalfa sprouts, until they discovered salmonella in the sprouts…..
Anyway you look at it, life in general is a hazard, no matter where you are on the food chain. (Ever read the “Secret Life of Plants?” — screaming vegetables, etc.)
apart from the fact that shark often has unbelievable high levels of heavy metals (e.g. mercury and cadmium) many shark species are threatened or endangered. some are now extinct.
Food Dude says
What Morris said
The Chinese room at the casino I worked at had Shark Fin Soup on the “secret” menu for the high rollers…$110 a bowl,and this was the late 90s.
KBOO Food Show probes this meaty issue today Sept. 15 at 11am. Phil Tobin and a China anthropologist join us in studio: