Friday, October 30, 2009

Sharks as Food.

Popcorn yesterday, shark today. Why not? I am currently exploring some of the small promotional cookbooks which focus on single, very specific, ingredients. A nice little book published by the US Bureau of Fisheries in 1918 called Sharks as Food; with Thirty Recipes, is our source for today.

Sharks have a reputation for eating humans whenever they get the opportunity, but the reality is that we eat them far often than they eat us (memo: keep a roasted pumpkin handy when swimming in shark-infested waters). Sometimes the eating of shark is opportunistic – one should not waste good protein, even if it is caught inadvertently, and especially when one is thoroughly sick of the alternatives, as the explorer William Dampier found in 1699. More often we eat it unknowingly (as, it could be argued, we eat many things).

Shark goes by the name of ‘flake’ in Australia, where it is commonly purchased from take-away establishments, battered and deep fried as an accompaniment to chips. It more often goes by no name at all, appearing anonymously in all sorts of vaguely piscatorial food ‘products’ such as fish fingers. The fins alone appear in the infamous Chinese Sharks’ Fin soup – a delicacy which supposedly gives a medicinal and aphrodisiac boost to those who believe in it, and a sense of outrage to those who find it cruel and immoral.

Here is my selection from the Bureau of Fisheries booklet: recipes for two salads, one using smoked shark, the other canned.

16. Shark Salad.
2 cupfuls smoked shark.
2 cupfuls potatoes.
1 tablespoonful onion,
1 cupful celery.
2 tablespoonfuls green peppers.
2 cupfuls mayonnaise.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Wash the smoked shark and boil until tender. Shred when cold, and add to the
potatoes, which have been diced. Then put in the minced onion, celery, and green
peppers. Mix thoroughly and add the mayonnaise, stirring slightly.
The addition of 3 hard-boiled eggs gives a more nutritious and palatable salad.

30. Shark Salad.
I pound can of shark.
1 cupful celery.
1 red pepper.
1 cucumber, sliced.
1 head chicory.
1 lemon.
1 onion.
Drain and flake the shark and add to the other ingredients. Mix all lightly with
the mayonnaise and garnish with olives.

Quotation for the Day

When you consider what a chance women have to poison their husbands, it's a wonder there isn't more of it done.
Kin Hubbard.


Anonymous said...

Nanna Rognvaldardottir has written a book on Icelandic cookery that you might find interesting (if you don't already have it). I'm sure it has information on the "preserved" shark (I forget what it's called). I know there's a few websites about it as well. Can't say I've ever tried it; apparently ammonia is the first word to come to mind when it is present.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Anonymous: I dont know the book, but I love getting suggestions for reading: I will try to track down a copy.Thanks!