Step-by-Step Guide on how to make Hong Kong Style Imitation Shark Fin Soup (碗仔翅). Elevate this popular street food with techniques and simple ingredients yielding refined gourmet flavors. Umami thick soup packed with tender juicy pork, silky vermicelli, and meaty crunchy mushrooms with a hint of roasted sesame oil. Enjoy spoonfuls of deliciously complex flavors and satisfying textures.
Imitation Shark Fin Soup (Fake Shark Fin Soup; Faux Fin Soup) – 碗仔翅 “wun2 zai2 ci3″ – literally meaning “small bowl fin”. It’s a popular classic Hong Kong street food that originated in the 1940s.
Don’t worry! It doesn’t contain any shark fins or shark meat at all.
Real Shark Fin Soup is an ancient delicacy from as far back as Tang and Song Dynasties. Mostly served at banquets or special occasions. We’re grateful that there’s increasing awareness of the cruel practices of shark finning. So more and more people are saying no to real Shark Fin Soup.
On the other hand, Imitation Shark Fin Soup was invented by street food cart vendors as a grassroots rendition of this expensive delicacy.
They creatively used Chinese vermicelli (粉絲) to replace shark fins (魚翅). Essentially, created a savory shredded chicken or pork and vermicelli thick soup. Somewhat resembles Hot and Sour Soup except it’s savory without the “hot” and “sour”, and with vermicelli.
Born as street food for everyone to enjoy, it’s budget-friendly, easy to make yet deliciously satisfying, comforting, and filling to eat.
Amy + Jacky’s Wun Zai Ci
It’s a lovely walk down memory lane as we recreate and savor this nostalgic street food from our hometown.
If you know us, Amy + Jacky won’t settle for ordinary. We love to stay true to classics yet take it up a notch with our refined flavorful touch.
So, we designed this recipe’s soup base with 3 flavor-enhancing elements – pork, chicken, and shiitake mushrooms. This packs layers of flavors with depth and complexity you won’t find in a classic bowl of Wun Zai Ci from street food vendors.
If you wish for a different flavor profile, add a hint of tanginess with Chinese red vinegar, and sprinkle some ground white pepper for a kick.
How to Make Imitation Shark Fin Soup
Imitation Shark Fin Soup Ingredients
Pork Shoulder. One of our favorite cuts of pork because it’s beautifully marbled with enough fat to keep the meat juicy while cooking. Pick one that has some nice marbling for the best results. For reference, we crafted this recipe with a 1.5-inch thick pork shoulder.
Chinese Vermicelli (粉絲 / 粉條 / 冬粉). Also known as bean thread vermicelli, mung bean vermicelli, glass noodles, or cellophane noodles. They’re transparent noodles made from starch and water. Often used to make spring rolls! They’re not the same as Korean glass noodles used in japchae though.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (冬菇 / 香菇). They impart a unique fragrant, umami-earthy flavor, and meaty velvety texture to the soup. If possible, use higher quality shiitake mushrooms because there can be a big difference in flavor, aroma, and texture.
Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms (木耳). It’s also known as black fungus – edible fungi that add a satisfying crunch-chew texture to the soup.
Bamboo Shoots (竹筍). You may find edible bamboo shoots fresh, dried, or canned in various shapes. For convenience, consistency, and ease of access, we developed this recipe with canned bamboo shoots.
We’re using both regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce in this recipe. Among different brands of soy sauces, Lee Kum Kee is one of our favorite go-to soy sauces.
Dark Soy Sauce (老抽) – It’s mostly for adding color and sweetness. So if you don’t have dark soy sauce, you can substitute it by adding a bit of sugar in the end.
Unsalted Chicken Stock. We develop recipes with unsalted ingredients so we can better control the flavors. If you’re substituting it with salted chicken stock, keep in mind that the sodium level can vary a lot between different brands. Always taste and adjust accordingly.
Chinese Red Vinegar (大紅浙醋). A rice vinegar that’s different from Chinkiang vinegar or red wine vinegar. It has a distinctive yet delicate aroma and mellow tartness. It’s usually used as a condiment for soup, or dipping sauce for dumplings and seafood.
Amy + Jacky’s Money Saving Tips! If you have a nearby local Asian store, try to find the ingredients there first. You’ll most likely be able to get them at lower prices.
Heat up Instant Pot by using the “Sauté More” function. With newer Instant Pot models, you may have to press the “Start” button.
Wait until it says “HOT” on the screen. This takes roughly 8 minutes.
Amy + Jacky’s Tip! Make sure your Instant Pot is as hot as it can be to induce a Maillard reaction.
Pat dry the pork shoulder, then lightly season one side of the pork with salt and ground black pepper.
Then, add 1 tablespoon (15ml) peanut oil or vegetable oil in Instant Pot. Make sure the oil is coating the whole bottom of the pot.
Carefully place the seasoned side of pork shoulder in Instant Pot. Then, lightly season the other side of the pork with salt and ground black pepper.
Brown one side of the pork for 5 minutes before flipping over, then brown the other side for another 5 minutes. You don’t need to constantly flip the meat.
Set aside the beautifully browned pork shoulder in a large container.
Deglaze Instant Pot
Pour 1 tablespoon (15ml) Shaoxing wine and 1 cup (250ml) shiitake mushroom stock in Instant Pot, then completely deglaze the bottom of the pot by scrubbing the flavorful brown bits with a wooden spoon.
Amy + Jacky’s Notes: If you skipped Step 3 (the optional browning step), add the Shaoxing wine with the other ingredients in the next step.
When the soup is simmering, mix the cornstarch mixture into the Imitation Shark Fin Soup one-third at a time until desired thickness.
Add Egg, Season, and Serve Imitation Shark Fin Soup
Slowly add 1 large beaten egg to the soup while stirring with a continuous circular motion.
Add shredded pork back in the Instant Pot.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, and ground white pepper if needed.
To serve, drizzle extra roasted sesame oil on top if you like. Then, serve Imitation Shark Fin Soup with Chinese red vinegar on the side.
What to Serve with Imitation Shark Fin Soup
Even though Imitation Shark Fin Soup is a soup, it’s more of a street food snack than a soup to serve with dinner. Nowadays, it’s often sold with other street food like curry fish balls (咖喱魚蛋), fish shumai (魚肉燒買), rice noodle rolls (腸粉), soy sauce chow mein (豉油皇炒麵), or stinky tofu (臭豆腐).
Sometimes, you may find it in restaurants that serve quick cheap meals. While some restaurants serve a more gourmet version.
As a nostalgic comfort food for Hong Kongers, Imitation Shark Fin Soup is often an exciting crowd-pleaser if you bring it to potlucks, dinners, or parties.
Tasty Hong Kong Style recipes you can enjoy with Imitation Shark Fin Soup:
How to make Hong Kong Style Imitation Shark Fin Soup. Elevate this nostalgic street food with techniques that yield refined gourmet flavors. Enjoy silky umami thick soup packed with deliciously complex flavors and satisfying textures.
Rehydrate Dried Mushrooms and Vermicelli: Rinse dried shiitake mushrooms & wood ear mushrooms under tap water to remove any dirt or residue. In a 500ml measuring cup, rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms with 2 cups (500ml) 120°F warm water.In 2 separate bowls, rehydrate dried wood ear mushrooms and vermicelli with 2 cups (500ml) warm water in each bowl. Soak them for 30 to 60 minutes until softened.
Prepare Other Ingredients: To save time, prepare other ingredients while the dried ingredients are rehydrating.Shiitake Mushrooms: Once shiitake mushrooms are rehydrated and softened, squeeze all liquid out of the mushrooms, remove stems, then slice them thinly. Save the shiitake mushroom liquid, we'll use it as stock later in the recipe.Wood Ear Mushrooms: Roughly chop the wood ear mushrooms.Vermicelli: Cut rehydrated vermicelli to 4" - 6" long.
Optional - Brown Pork Shoulder: Heat up Instant Pot by using “Sauté More” function. Wait until it says "HOT" on the screen (~8 mins). Pat dry pork shoulder, then lightly season one side of pork with salt and ground black pepper. Add 1 tbsp (15ml) peanut oil or vegetable oil in Instant Pot. Make sure the oil is coating the whole bottom of the pot. Carefully place the seasoned side of pork in Instant Pot. Lightly season the other side of pork with salt and ground black pepper. Brown one side of pork for 5 minutes before flipping over, then brown the other side for another 5 minutes. You don't need to constantly flip the meat. Set aside the browned pork in a large container.
Deglaze Instant Pot: Pour 1 tbsp (15ml) Shaoxing wine and 1 cup (250ml) shiitake mushroom stock in Instant Pot, then completely deglaze the bottom of the pot by scrubbing the flavorful brown bits with a wooden spoon. Amy + Jacky's Notes: If you skipped Step 3, add Shaoxing wine with other ingredients in the next step.
Pressure Cook Imitation Shark Fin Soup: Press "Cancel" button to turn off Instant Pot. Add browned pork in Instant Pot. Add in sliced rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, sliced ginger, minced garlic, 1 tbsp (15ml) fish sauce, 1 tbsp (15ml) regular soy sauce, 2 tsp (10ml) dark soy sauce, 1 tsp (5ml) roasted sesame oil, ½ tsp (4g) fine salt, 5g rock sugar or granulated sugar, and ⅛ tsp (0.4g) ground white pepper. Add in remaining shiitake mushroom stock and 4 cups (1L) unsalted chicken stock.Close lid and turn the Venting Knob to Sealing position. Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 18 minutes, then Natural Release for 15 minutes. Release the remaining pressure by turning the Venting Knob to Venting position. When Floating Valve drops, open the lid carefully.
Shred Pork and Add Ingredients: Place pork in a large bowl. Discard ginger slices. Add bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, and vermicelli to the soup. Bring the soup back to a boil using "Saute High" function. Allow the soup to boil for 1 to 2 minutes. While you're waiting for the soup to boil, shred the pork with two forks.Amy + Jacky's Vermicelli Tips: If you're planning to boil the soup for longer, add the vermicelli later so they don't lose their bounciness and get too soft.
Thicken Soup: In a mixing bowl, combine 5 tbsp (45g) cornstarch with ~⅓ cup (93ml) cold water. Stir thoroughly. When the soup is simmering, mix the cornstarch mixture into the soup one-third at a time until desired thickness.
Add Egg, Season, and Serve Imitation Shark Fin Soup: Slowly add 1 large beaten egg to the soup while stirring with a continuous circular motion. Add shredded pork back in the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, and ground white pepper if needed. To serve, drizzle extra roasted sesame oil on top if you like. And serve Imitation Shark Fin Soup with Chinese red vinegar on the side. Enjoy~
1) Pork Shoulder: Pick one that has some nice marbling for the best results.2) Chinese Vermicelli (粉絲 / 粉條 / 冬粉): Aka bean thread vermicelli, mung bean vermicelli, glass noodles, or cellophane noodles. They're transparent noodles made from starch and water. Not the Korean glass noodles used in japchae.3) Bamboo Shoots (竹筍): For convenience, consistency, and ease of access, we used canned bamboo shoots.4) Soy Sauce: We used both regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce in this recipe. If you don’t have dark soy sauce, you can substitute it by adding a bit of sugar in the end.5) Unsalted Chicken Stock: We develop recipes with unsalted ingredients so we can better control the flavors. If you’re substituting it with salted chicken stock, keep in mind that the sodium level can vary a lot between different brands. Taste and adjust accordingly.6) Chinese Red Vinegar (大紅浙醋): A rice vinegar that's different from Chinkiang vinegar or red wine vinegar. It's an optional topping that adds a distinctive yet delicate aroma and light & refreshing tartness to the soup.7) Preparing Shiitake Mushrooms (Step 1): When rehydrating the dried shiitake mushrooms, place a small mixing bowl on top of the shiitake mushrooms to make sure the mushrooms are fully submerged in the warm water.8) Glass Lid (Step 6): If you have a glass lid, cover the soup as you bring it back to a boil. It'll speed up the process.9) Thicker Soup: If you enjoy a thicker soup, use an extra tbsp (9g) cornstarch and 1 tbsp (15ml) cold water.10) Total Cook Time: The time doesn't include rehydrating time.Rate Amy + Jacky's Recipe: If you've tried our recipe, rate the recipe in the Comments section. Thank you!
Course: Snack, Soup
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Hong Kong
Keyword: Imitation Shark Fin Soup, imitation shark fin soup instant pot
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