As of the new year, this Chinese delicacy is now illegal in the great state of Nevada. On January 1st, 2018 shark fin soup became illegal due to a bill passed back in June of last year.
The dish is usually served at weddings or other special occasions, such as the Lunar New Year. While the actual shark fin, itself, is essentially flavorless, the delicacy relies on its broth, which is typically made with Yunnan ham, ginger, and chicken. It is rich and smooth, and sometimes includes Cognac for added taste. Its texture is overwhelmingly chewy. The fin is usually soaked and boiled so that it will easily break up into pieces.
Fisherman harvest shark fins through a method called “finning,” which involves removing a shark’s fin then tossing it back into the water, unable to swim or survive any longer on its own. In fact, sharks are being driven to fewer and fewer overall numbers on behalf of both commercial fishing efforts and the fact sharks don’t normally give birth to many offspring.
Shark fin soup originated in mainland China and Hong Kong but has since fallen out of popularity. More recently, Nevada saw an increase in its consumption, however. The marine conservation group, Shark Stewards claim that the increase was due to “visitors consuming shark fin and new casinos catering to them.”
Nevada has joined 11 other states to outlaw shark fin soup and other related products. However, in November of 2017 President, Donald Trump had shark fin soup at a state dinner in Vietnam. Reno has consistently served shark fin soup as either a menu or specialty item for years. Since the ban, a number of local restaurants have been preparing imitation shark fin soup. The fake soup is fairly easy to spot, considering that it is made of bean thread noodles and costs a mere $10 a bowl, compared to the actual soup’s price of $50 a bowl. Moreover, shark fins can sell for over $300 a pound.