I find myself a bit of a hypocrite sometimes when it comes to food. Always thinking that I would never eat anything that could also be a pet, I gave in and ate some turtle soup last month at the Chinese restaurant inside of Le Meridian Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.
It was a good friend’s birthday banquet and she especially ordered this turtle dish that took many hours for the kitchen to prepare as a special treat to share with good friends. At first I resisted eating it because I explained I have 3 turtles in my pond at home, at which time my friends asked me if I weren’t going to eat fish either because I also have fish in my pond? Okay, point taken, so I went ahead and ate my turtle soup and it was quite delicious.
Turtle is popular in Chinese cuisine as a delicacy that is also believed to be good for your health and beauty. Only soft shell turtles (鱉or 甲魚) are consumed in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China while hard shell turtles (龜) are reverend for their legendary longevity and power. They are usually cooked chopped up in large pieces (with skin and meat still attached to the bone) in a clear soup with Chinese medicine and herbs. I think the meat has the texture of frog legs while the skin is gelatinous, the taste is subtle like chicken white meat, not at all fishy as I originally assumed it would be.
Incidentally, I learned from going to school in the USA that Americans also eat turtle soup as well. I spent years in Philadelphia going to the University of Pennsylvania and I was quite surprised to discover that most diners in the Delaware Valley serve something called the Snapper Soup which is a creamy, brownish soup made with snapping turtles, hence the name, Snapper Soup. This soup seems to be quite popular locally since every time I would go to a diner with friends from school, someone in our group would get this soup. I tasted it a little once and it was like eating a hearty beef gravy, with finely chopped meat that had the texture of chicken, and the taste was indiscriminate since the soup was so heavy.
I love traveling around the world, and think of myself as a little adventurist. I have visited more than 60 countries, with multiple trips to certain destinations. I enjoy writing and analysing things … more
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Turtle soup is soup or stews made from the flesh of the turtle. The dish is existent in many cultures and is viewed as a luxury or delicacy.
The green turtle was commonly used for turtle soup in the United States and United Kingdom. Soup made from the snapping turtle was found mainly in the United States. Chinese and other East Asian cuisines use primarily soft-shelled turtles for turtle soup.
In countries such as Singapore with large Chinese populations, turtle soup is a Chinese delicacy known for its rich herbal taste. The meat, skin and innards of the turtle are used in the soup. Soft-shelled turtles (鱉) such as Pelodiscus sinensis is commonly consumed in this manner in Chinese cuisine, while consumption of hard-shelled turtles (龜) are often avoided due to mythical connotations associated with the latter. However, the hard shells of certain turtles is used in the preparation of the so-called "turtle jelly", or Guilinggao.