Dried Scallop & Chicken Soup (瑤柱雞絲羹)

Your ethical, delectable answer to Shark Fin Soup!

flodesk gif
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Yields
4 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

You may have heard of Shark Fin Soup, once a revered delicacy enjoyed by Chinese royalty and elites, then a luxurious banquet food for modern celebrations, and now... nowhere to be found!

It took years of environmental activism and a lot of help from celebrity platforms, but the cruel and unsustainable practice of harvesting shark fins, and how ecologically destructive the overfishing of sharks is, has finally come to public attention in the last several years, leading to the practice being completely banned in some countries.

However, Shark Fin Soup has had such a cultural standing in food history that people still kind of want to celebrate with it. But how do we keep it ethical?

Try this lookalike "Imitation Shark Fin Soup", which tastes similar but actually better, and is so easy to make!

Check out a quick story summary of our recipe!

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
4

Main Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz dried scallop
  • 6 oz chicken breast
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 8 cup boiling water
  • 7 tbsp cornstarch (

    for slurry

    )
  • 5 tbsp water (

    for slurry

    )

Chicken Marinade

  • 0.50 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 0.25 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp oil

Soup Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2.5 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 0.50 tsp white pepper

Buying dried scallops

Daddy and Mommy Lau explain that the quality of dried scallops is actually not dependent on size. When you're shopping, the larger scallops are more expensive because they're attractive and visually appealing rather than because of their quality. There's not much to consider when buying a package, other than making sure they don't look discolored, moist, and too broken up already.

Check out the dried ingredients section of your local Chinese grocery store. If you don't see it, you can buy it online here:

Once you have purchased a package and have brought it home (yay, congratulations!), the best way to store it is in an airtight container in the freezer. If your freezer is full, it'll also keep great in the fridge, though not for quite as long.

Seasoning with fish sauce

Lots of people use soy sauce to season the soup, but we use fish sauce instead! The funky fermented flavor of fish sauce adds a delicious, deeper umami note to the soup. If you can't have fish sauce, or cannot find it, or you just don't like it, not to worry! Just replace the fish sauce with light soy sauce.

First, prepare dried scallops (1.5 oz). Using pliers, nutcrackers, or your favorite grippy smashy tool, break the dried scallops into pieces. Having the dried scallop in smaller pieces first will shorten the soaking time and make it easier for them to soften up.

Wash the small pieces of dried scallop, and then soak it in a small microwave-safe bowl full of hot water. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid (check out Daddy Lau's expert workaround of using a microwave-safe plate as a lid!), and microwave for about 1 minute, or until it's soft. Set it aside for at least 10 minutes to let it soften.

Next, prepare the chicken breast (6 oz). It's easiest to cut precisely when partially frozen/thawed. Fully frozen chicken is too hard, like trying to cut ice, while fully thawed chicken is soft and slippery. In between is perfection--it will be firm enough to stay still, but soft enough to cut through.

Trim away any excess fat. Too much fat will make the soup greasy.

Cut the chicken into several large pieces for easier handling. Cut each large piece into thin slices, stack up the slices, and then cut into thin strips. Place the thin strips into a bowl and marinate with salt (0.50 tsp), cornstarch (1 tbsp), water (2 tbsp), baking soda (0.25 tsp).

To avoid lumps of cornstarch, you can always use Daddy Lau's handy method of mixing the marinade ingredients together on the side of the bowl, dissolving any clumps, before spreading it with the rest of the chicken.

Continue stirring the chicken with the marinade until all the strips are well-coated.

By now, the scallops will have soaked for about 10 minutes. Drain the scallops and squeeze out any excess water. Make sure to save the soaking liquid! We will be using the reserved soaking liquid in the soup.

Shred the scallops by mashing down on them with a spoon or by pulling the pieces after by hand, until there are no big pieces left.

Turn stove on to medium heat, add oil (1 tsp) to the soup pot. Add the shredded dried scallops and stir them around to lightly fry them. You should start to smell the aroma as they start to fry in the oil. Make sure to keep stirring to prevent sticking and burning.

After stir-frying for 40-50 seconds, pour in reserved scallop soaking liquid, chicken broth (14 oz), and boiling water (8 cup). Cover the pot with a lid to help it come to a boil faster.

In the meantime, prepare the cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch (7 tbsp) and water (5 tbsp) in a bowl. It may seem like a lot, but we're thickening a large volume of soup, so keep in mind that you may need even more!

Once the soup has come to a boil, turn the heat off, and let it cook in its own heat for 5 minutes to allow for the flavor of dried scallops to develop.

Turn the stove back on high heat and bring the soup back to a boil. Give it a stir, and then we're ready to thicken the soup.

Turn the heat to the lowest setting, or even off, and slowly pour the cornstarch slurry in while constantly stirring bottom of the soup. Monitor the thickness of the soup. We like this soup very thick and textured, but you may prefer a thinner broth, in which case you may not want to use all of the slurry.

Once thickened to your liking, turn the heat on high and bring the soup back to a boil. The soup will thin out a touch as it heats, so you can make and add more cornstarch slurry if it’s still not thick enough.

Season the soup and add color with salt (1 tbsp), fish sauce (1 tbsp), and dark soy sauce (2.5 tbsp). The original shark fin soup has translucent threads against a dark broth, so we're kind of mimicking that look here. If you'd like a darker broth, continue to add small amounts of dark soy sauce at a time until it's to your liking.

Add oil (1 tsp) to the marinated chicken and mix it in. Turn the heat to medium-low and gently add the chicken to soup while stirring to spread the chicken around and to prevent big clumps of chicken.

Finally, season the soup with sesame oil (1 tsp), sugar (1 tsp), and white pepper (0.50 tsp).

Because the chicken is in super thin strips, they should not take long at all to cook! Once they have turned color, the soup is complete. The pale chicken and the light yellow threads of dried scallop should contrast beautifully against the dark broth. If the broth is not dark enough, you can mix in a bit more dark soy sauce.

Taste to adjust for flavor (careful, it's hot!) and transfer to a serving bowl. Enjoy!

Summary

Dried Scallop & Chicken Soup (瑤柱雞絲羹)
Your ethical, delectable answer to Shark Fin Soup!
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 servings

Main Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz dried scallop
  • 6 oz chicken breast
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 8 cup boiling water
  • 7 tbsp cornstarch (

    for slurry

    )
  • 5 tbsp water (

    for slurry

    )

Chicken Marinade

  • 0.50 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 0.25 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp oil

Soup Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2.5 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 0.50 tsp white pepper

Step 1 - Prepare dried scallops

↑ Jump to details

First, prepare dried scallops (1.5 oz). Using pliers, break the dried scallops into pieces.

Wash the small pieces of dried scallop, and then soak it in a small microwave-safe bowl full of hot water. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid, and microwave for about 1 minute, or until it's soft. Set it aside for at least 10 minutes to let it soften.

Step 2 - Prepare chicken

↑ Jump to details

Next, prepare the chicken breast (6 oz). Trim away any excess fat.

Cut the chicken into several large pieces. Cut each large piece into thin slices, and then thin strips. Marinate with salt (0.50 tsp), cornstarch (1 tbsp), water (2 tbsp), baking soda (0.25 tsp).

Stir the chicken with the marinade until all the strips are well-coated.

Step 3 - Prepare rehydrated scallops

↑ Jump to details

By now, the scallops will have soaked for about 10 minutes. Drain the scallops and squeeze out any excess water. Save the soaking liquid for later use in the soup.

Shred the scallops by mashing down on them with a spoon or by pulling the pieces after by hand, until there are no big pieces left.

Step 4 - Stir-fry scallops & add water

↑ Jump to details

Turn stove on to medium heat, add oil (1 tsp) to the soup pot. Add the shredded dried scallops and stir them around to lightly fry them. Keep stirring to prevent sticking and burning.

After stir-frying for 40-50 seconds, pour in reserved scallop soaking liquid, chicken broth (14 oz), and boiling water (8 cup). Cover the pot with a lid.

Step 5 - Add slurry & seasoning

↑ Jump to details

In the meantime, prepare the cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch (7 tbsp) and water (5 tbsp) in a bowl.

Once the soup has come to a boil, turn the heat off, and let it cook for 5 minutes to allow for the flavor of dried scallops to develop.

Turn the stove back on high heat and bring the soup back to a boil. Give it a quick stir.

Turn the heat to the lowest setting, or even off, and slowly pour the cornstarch slurry in while constantly stirring bottom of the soup.

Once thickened to your liking, turn the heat on high and bring the soup back to a boil. The soup will thin out a touch as it heats, so you can make and add more cornstarch slurry if it’s still not thick enough.

Season the soup and add color with salt (1 tbsp), fish sauce (1 tbsp), and dark soy sauce (2.5 tbsp).

Step 6 - Add chicken & final seasonings

↑ Jump to details

Add oil (1 tsp) to the marinated chicken and mix it in. Turn the heat to medium-low and gently add the chicken to soup while stirring to spread the chicken around and to prevent big clumps of chicken.

Finally, season the soup with sesame oil (1 tsp), sugar (1 tsp), and white pepper (0.50 tsp).

Step 7 - Transfer to bowl & serve

↑ Jump to details

Once they have turned color, the soup is complete. If the broth is not dark enough, you can mix in a bit more dark soy sauce.

Taste to adjust for flavor (careful, it's hot!) and transfer to a serving bowl. Enjoy!

Step 8 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 9 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

We have many, many happy memories of enjoying this dish growing up.

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to eat with us and learn more about the dish, Chinese culture, and my family.

Cheers, and thanks for cooking with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.