Shark fried rice

An Indonesian chef is making soup and other dishes from the flesh of the big fish whose survival is under threat.

by: Lenita Sulthani: Reuters | 02 Jun 2008

Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Indonesia, while the meat of the fish often seen as a ferocious sea predator is largely shunned because of its strong taste.

Bali-based chef Budi Susilo says he's come up with a way to make shark more palatable, and less vulnerable to being discarded in the ocean after its lucrative fin has been carved out.

"I came up with the idea while working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and discovered people there ate shark meat. It was tasteless," says Susilo, who owns "Pak Item Restaurant" in Bali's Jimbaran resort.

"When I returned, I saw none of the restaurants here serve shark meat. So, I opened my restaurant and tried to be creative with shark meat," said the 42-year-old Susilo, who is better known as Mr Black, because he wears black every day.

Environmentalists say booming demand for shark fin soup, especially in China, is threatening the existence of several species, with fishers all over the world, and especially Spain and Indonesia, catching sharks for their lucrative fin and then discarding the carcasses.

Shark fried rice
Pak Item has been going strong since 2005 and serves shark meat in several ways: stewed, barbequed, fried or mixed in with a local favourite, fried rice.

Susilo uses blacktip reef sharks that are less than 4 meters long for his dishes and buys his daily supply from local fishermen in Bali, where most of the sharks caught are too small for restaurants selling fin soup.

Indonesia is considered one of the main culprits when it comes to overfishing sharks and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia official Dewi Satriani said even low-value sharks were being discarded at sea, either whole or with fins removed.

Sharks, which inhabit all of the world's oceans, are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they have long life cycles and reproduce slowly.

Would you eat shark meat?

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