Ingredient Name:  Soft shell turtle or Trionychidae

Chinese Name: 水魚 (shuǐ yú)

This is the first time that I have bought and tried soft shell turtle (to my knowledge).  These types of turtles are actually bred for consumption and considered a prize delicacy in East Asia (ie: China).  They are also harvested in the US (with set limits) for breeding and consumption as well (especially common to have Turtle soup in New Orleans).  Ever since coming to Asia, I have developed an open mind to the types of food that is culturally different from my upbringing.  The turtle definitely falls into this category.  It is so commonplace that you can find soft shell turtles at your local wet marts. 

What is this?

  • A species of fresh water turtle that has a soft shell (feels like leather)
  • They have an elongated snout and a relatively long neck for their size
  • Soft shell turtles have webbed feet and 3 claws
  • There are many soft turtle farms in China (producing around 150,000 tonnes per year)
  • Found in East Asian cuisine in stews and soups (Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan)

How do I prepare it?

  • Have your vendor clean and chop up the meat into manageable pieces
  • Rinse in warm water and then with some ginger and oil, fry it on high heat in a wok or pan until cooked

Where can I buy this?

  • Most wet marts in Hong Kong will carry them
  • I have yet to see this product available in Canada

What is the cost

  • 1 medium-sized soft shell turtle cost around $150 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Said to be a healing meat (on the warm side)
  • Ideal for pregnant women (pre 33 weeks) and confinement soups
  • Highly nutritious
  • High amounts of collagen from the turtle’s shell (so the shell is also cooked or stewed together) 

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to thoroughly clean and wash the turtle meat
  • Some farms are said to inject steroids and growth hormones into their meats, although difficult to determine, eat in moderation