My Citizens, this recipe is going to be controversial to some of you – I ask that you read the entire post before commenting about its use of one particular ingredient. This recipe is considered the most opulent and luxurious dish in the entire Chinese canon – it will cost you a fortune to make and two full days of cooking time. That said, I salute your challenging spirit if you decide to take on this ultimate culinary challenge!
Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, also known as Buddha’s Temptation (Chinese: 佛跳墙; pinyin: fó tiào qiáng), is a variety of shark fin soup in Fujian cuisine. It was created by Zheng Chunfa, celebrated chef and proprietor of the Ju Chun Yuan Restaurant in Fuzhou, Fujian Province.
Zheng was private chef of a senior local official in his early years. Since its creation during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), the dish has been regarded as a Chinese delicacy known for its rich taste, usage of various high-quality ingredients and special manner of cooking.
There are many stories on the origin of the dish. A common one is about a scholar traveling by foot during the Qing dynasty. While he traveled with his friends, the scholar preserved all his food for the journey in a clay jar used for holding wine. Whenever he had a meal, he warmed up the jar with the ingredients over an open fire. Once they arrived in Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province, the scholar started cooking the dish.
The smells spread over to a nearby Buddhist monastery where monks were meditating. Although monks are not allowed to eat meat, one of the monks, tempted, jumped over the wall. A poet among the travelers said that even Buddha would jump the wall to eat the delicious dish.
Concerns over the sustainability and welfare of sharks have limited consumption and availability of the soup.
The soup or stew consists of many ingredients, especially animal products, and requires two full days to prepare. A typical recipe requires many ingredients including quail eggs, bamboo shoots, scallops, sea cucumber, abalone, shark fin, fish maw, chicken, Jinhua ham, pork tendon, ginseng, mushrooms, and taro.
Some recipes require up to thirty main ingredients and twelve condiments. According to the Guinness World Book of Records, the nearly $200 bowl of Buddha Jumps Over the Wall sold at Kai Mayfair in London holds the record for the most expensive soup in the world.
. I’ve made a few tiny changes, but its DNA is all hers.
Many of TFD readers may take exception to this recipe as it uses shark’s fin. I include this recipe for two reasons – one: it is one of the greatest dishes in the Chinese repertoire and deserves to be preserved and two: I specify using only ethically harvested shark fin.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- Day 1:
- ¼ pound ethically-harvested shark’s fin
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 cup stock
- ¼ cup Shao-Hsing wine or dry sherry
- 2 ounces lard (strongly preferred) or peanut oil
- One ½-inch-thick slice fresh ginger, lightly smashed
- 3 scallions, white parts only
- 4 whole abalone
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons Shao-Hsing wine or dry sherry
- 4 dry scallops, each 1 inch in diameter
- 2 tablespoons Shao-Hsing wine or dry sherry, for scallops
- 12 quail eggs
- 3 small fresh bamboo shoots
- 1 quart cold water, for bamboo shoots
- One 4-pound chicken
- ¼ cup salt
- 1 ½ pounds pork feet (3 halves) each half cut into 4 pieces by butcher
- 2 pounds lamb filet
- 2 ½ pounds pork (fresh ham)
- 1 pound Smithfield ham
- 2 quarts cold water, for Smithfield ham
- 12 Chinese black mushrooms
- Day 2:
- 2 ½ pounds Chinese turnips, peeeled, both ends discarded, cut into 4 pieces lengthwise, then into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound carrots (3 large), peeled, cut into 1-inch sections
- 2 3-inch-long cinnamon sticks
- 1 black cardamom
- 4 pieces eight-star anise
- 6 scallions, trimmed and cut into thirds
- 5 cups Shao-Hsing wine or dry sherry
- 7 cups chicken stock
- 6 ounces rock sugar (rock candy) – you can substitute granulated sugar
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 4 bamboo leaves, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, until softened, and washed
- 1 large lotus leaf, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes until softened, washed and dried
- 3 ½ cups peanut oil for frying
- Day 1
- To prepare the shark’s fin, the night before, soak the fins in a bowl of water with the white vinegar for a least 4 to 6 hours, rinse, and drain. Place the soaked shark’s fins in a steamproof dish with the stock, wine, lard, ginger, and scallions and steam for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, discard the ginger and scallions, strain off and discard the liquid, and reserve overnight, refrigerated.
- To prepare the abalone, the night before (at the same time you soak the shark’s fins), wash the abalone, place in a pot with 3 quarts water, bring to a boil over medium heat, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to rest in the liquid in the pot overnight. Place the abalone in a steamproof dish with the stock and wine and steam for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until softened. Discard the liquid and reserve the abalone overnight, refrigerated.
- To prepare the scallops, place the scallops and wine in a steamproof dish and steam for 20 minutes, until softened. Turn off the heat, discard the liquid, and reserve the scallops overnight, refrigerated.
- To prepare the quail eggs, cook them in boiling water for about 7 minutes, until hard boiled. Remove from the pot and cool. Shell and reserve overnight, refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature on Day 2.
- To prepare the bamboo shoots, remove all outer husks down to the tender, cream-white core. Place the whole shoots in a pot with the water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. If very tender, simmer for 7 minutes; if a bit tough, simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, run cold water into the pot, and drain. Allow to cool, cut each shoot lengthwise into 4 pieces, and reserve overnight, refrigerated.
- To prepare the chicken, wash and remove the fat and membranes. Rinse under cold running water and drain. Sprinkle the outside with the salt and rub in well. Rinse, drain, and dry. Cut the chicken into 12 pieces and reserve overnight, refrigerated.
- To prepare the duck, prepare precisely as the chicken in the preceeding step.
- To prepare the pork feet, cut up the pork feet, if necessary, and reserve overnight, refrigerated.
- To prepare the lamb and pork, cut the lamb into 12 equal pieces and reserve refrigerated, overnight. Cut the pork into 12 equal pieces and reserve refrigerated, overnight.
- To prepare the Smithfield ham, place the ham and water in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, allow to rest in the liquid, and return to room temperature. Remove, discard the liquid, cut into 12 equal pieces, and reserve, refrigerated, overnight.
- To prepare the mushrooms, soak the mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes, until softened. Wash, drain, remove the stems, and reserve overnight, refrigerated.
- Day 2
- Heat a wok over high heat for 1 minute. Add the peanut oil and heat to 350 degrees F. Place the turnips in a Chinese strainer and lower into the oil. Blanch for 2 minutes, remove, drain over a bowl, and reserve. Bring the oil back to 350 degrees F, blanch the carrots and bamboo shoots similarly for 3 minutes, remove and drain, and reserve.
- Bring the oil again to 350 degrees F., add the quail eggs to the wok, and deep-fry for 2 minutes or until the eggs brown lightly. Remove, strain, and reserve.
- Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok and set aside. Heat the wok over high heat for 20 seconds. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the cinnamon sticks, 2 pieces of star anise, and half the scallions. Stir-fry until the fragrance is released, about 1 minute. Add the reserved chicken and duck, stir, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the entire contents of the wok to a bowl, and reserve.
- Wash the wok and spatula. Heat the wok over high heat for 1 minute. Add the 3 tablespoons of the reserved peanut oil and coat the wok with it using a spatula. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the black cardamom, anise, and scallions and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the pork feet, lamb, and pork and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Place the contents of the wok into a large pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and rock sugar and stir. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add ½ cup of the soy sauce and stir well. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the reserved chicken an duck and the contents of the bowl, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Allow all the contents of the pot to rest in the liquid for 10 minutes. Empty the contents into a bowl, including the cooking liquid, discard the scallions, and allow to cool sufficiently to handle.
- While all the meats are cooking, place the reserved blanched turnips, carrots, and bamboo shoots in a wok. Add the stock. Raise the heat to high, mix well, stirring, and bring to a boil. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce and stir. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, strain, and reserve. Reserve the liquid for another use.
- Wrap the reserved shark’s fin, abalone, scallops, and Smithfield ham in cheesecloth. Sew or tie to close.
- For this final step, a large pot, about 3-gallon capacity, should be used. Pour 2 cups of reserved cooking liquid from the bowl into the pot. Place a rack on the bottom and cover with bamboo leaves trimmed to fit the shape of the rack.
- Begin layering ingredients:
- Place the pork feet in a single layer on the bamboo leaf-lined rack. Place a single layer of lamb atop the pork feet. Place a single layer of chicken atop the lamb. Place a single layer of duck atop the chicken. Place a single layer of pork atop the duck.
- Place the cheesecloth bundle atop the pork. Ladle 1 quart of cooking liquid over the layers. Place the mushrooms over the bundle. Layer the turnips, carrots, and bamboo shoots over the mushrooms. Pour the remaining liquid, including the spices, over the top. Lay the lotus leaf over the top of the pot. Place the pot cover on the leaf to seal the pot.
- Over low heat, allow the contents of the pot to simmer for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to rest for 10 minutes. Remove all the foods from the pot to a large heated serving platter.
- Garnish the platter with the quail eggs. Place the liquid, now a rich broth, in a heated tureen. Remove the cheesecloth bundle to another heated plate, discard the cheesecloth, remove the contents, slice the abalone thinly, and arrange it with the other ingredients as an accompaniment.
- Serve in the Chinese manner: the meats and vegetables together, with some of the broth poured over them, the rest of the broth divided into bowls to drink.
- Category: Recipes
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