Buddha Jumps Over the Wall
Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, or fo tiao qiang, is a variety of
shark fin soup in Cantonese and Fujian cuisine. 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.
Left: Buddha Jumps Over the Wall.
The dish's name is an allusion
to the dish's ability to entice the vegetarian monks from their temples to
partake in the meat-based dish. It is high in protein and calcium.
The soup or stew consists of many ingredients of
non-vegetarian origin and requires one to two full days to prepare. A typical
recipe requires many ingredients including quail eggs, bamboo shoots, scallops,
sea cucumber, abalone, shark fin, chicken, Jinhua ham, pork tendon, ginseng,
mushrooms, and taro. Some recipes require up to thirty main ingredients and
twelve condiments. Use of shark fin, which is sometimes harvested by shark
finning, and abalone, which is implicated in destructive fishing practices are
controversial for both environmental and ethical reasons.
There are many stories on the origin of the dish. Among them,
a common story 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 who was tempted by the smell
jumped over the wall to where the scholar gathered for cooking. A poet among the
travelers said that even Buddha would jump the wall to eat the delicious dish.
Kai Mayfair in London was dubbed "home of the world's most
expensive soup" when it unveiled its £108 version of Buddha Jumps Over the Wall
in 2005. The dish includes shark's fin, Japanese flower mushroom, sea cucumber,
dried scallops, chicken, Hunan ham, pork, and ginseng.