PETALING JAYA: A traditional dish that was once fit for the emperors and a status symbol on dining tables has become an “outcast” especially among the younger set.
Shark fin soup is increasingly being crossed out in menus for reunion dinners come Chinese New Year amid growing awareness of over-fishing and the cruel way in which the fins are harvested.
Apart from the high prices, Perak Chinese Restaurant and Chef Association president Chan Kam said the declining demand was due to greater awareness about shark fin harvesting in recent years.
(Shark fin soup for a table of 10 costs about RM300.)
“A majority of the younger generation is opting not to have it served at weddings and dinners.
“They will usually go for other soup alternatives with similar texture.
“Although there is still a small number of customers ordering the dish, many of the bookings at our member restaurants for the coming festive reunion dinner stated that there be no shark fin soup,” he said when contacted.
Chan said an eight-course set for 10 people had been the most popular among patrons who made reservations for reunion dinner on Feb 4.
Each set costs between RM1,000 and RM2,000 depending on the dishes which usually consist of yee sang, prawn, fish, chicken, pork and vegetables.
As for the Tai Thong Group, it has stopped offering shark fin soup for some time.
Its senior sales executive Cassandra Goh said they stopped serving it at its 10 outlets to save the environment.
“So far, our patrons are happy with it. I have never come across anyone who requested for the dish while taking bookings,” she said, adding that Tai Thong has one outlet in Ipoh and nine in the Klang Valley, of which five of them are pork-free.
When contacted, Malaysia Fish Industry General Association president Chia Tian Hee said that prices of seafood would likely remain stable this year but with a slight increase during the festive season.
“Last year, at this time, prices of seafood increased at least 20% due to bad weather and smaller catch. We predict it won’t be as bad this time,” he said.
Supplies of fish that are popular during the festive season such as Chinese pomfret, big prawns, Spanish mackerel, golden snapper and grouper had been good so far, he said.
“Big prawns are seeing a good catch now and the festive price increase will be less than 10%. Other types of fish is predicted to see about 10% increase in price.
“For as long as the weather pattern is decent, we will be able to have good catch and keep the prices reasonable,” he said.
Federation of Livestock Farmers Associations of Malaysia deputy president Tan Kuang Liang also assured that prices of local pork and pork-related products would remain stable.
“Slaughtered pigs are supplied to butchers nationwide with no increase in price.
“Butchers may adjust their price tag based on cost and demand but it shouldn’t be too much,” he said.
He said about 6,000 pigs were slaughtered every day but this could go up to more than 8,000 as the festive season drew close, adding that many parts of the pig were in demand as they could be made into various festive delicacies.
“Supply of local pork and pork-related products will not be an issue during the festive season,” he said.
Calling on consumers to choose local pork over imported ones, Tan said many businesses and families were already making early arrangements with butchers to ensure availability and avoid a long wait.