The Chinese written character for ‘shark’s fin’ should also stand for ‘special occasion’. Any recipe involving shark’s fin means a formal banquet in a restaurant or at home, celebrating something special.
In my childhood, we rarely had shark’s fin – it was much too expensive for our limited household budget. But I had an uncle who loved to gamble, and he especially loved the ‘sport of kings’. Whenever one of his long shots came in, we all celebrated by eating shark’s fin. We would enjoy the delicacy in a soup, double-steamed for many hours with a fresh whole chicken. My mother would soak the fins for hours and then braise them for another few hours with spring onions and ginger before cooking them with the soup. However, my favourite was and remains shark’s fin simply stir-fried with eggs, as in this version. The rich, soft egg contrasts nicely with the al dente texture of the shark’s fin. Fortunately, the hours of soaking and braising are no longer necessary: it is possible now to buy ready-prepared shark’s fins. They may be found in the frozen-food section of most Chinese grocers or supermarkets.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs lightly with the sesame oil and salt and reserve.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, toss in the ham and shark’s fin and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Now pour in the beaten eggs and fry, stirring constantly, until the eggs begin to set, in about 2–3 minutes. Toss in the spring onions and continue to stir-fry for another minute. Quickly place on a platter and serve at once.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.