Chefs refuse to serve 'dead-and-alive fish'
The China Post
July 9, 2007, 12:00 am TWN
Most veteran chefs in Taiwan now refuse to serve a gourmet dish, which features a deep fried fish with its head still twitching, due to the great cruelty inflicted on the fish, as shown yesterday in a picture on the front page of the Chinese-language United Daily News.
The sources said that it was a popular dish by fish-specialty restaurants near the Shihmen Reservoirs in Taoyuan County some 30 years ago, when the restaurants compete fiercely to scramble for more customers.
This dish, called "yin yang fish" or "dead-and-alive fish," is now popular in China, where chefs use it to show customers how fresh the food is.
Wang Po-yu, a chief chef at a fish-specialty restaurant in Taoyuan County, said none of chefs are willing to cook such a dish again. "Even if customers want to order the dish, I will categorically turn down their request," Wang.
Another chef said that having a live fish head and a fried fish body on the same dish plate involves not only sophisticated skill, but also a bloody and unhealthy cooking practice.
The chef said that the dead-and-alive fish is quite an inhumane dish, and some customers would have their appetite seriously undermined when seeing such a dish served.
The chefs were responding to a report used yesterday by the UDN that a restaurant in the southern city of Chiayi began in June to serve carp with its body deep-fried and covered with sweet and sour sauce, and its head still twitching.
"When diners pick the fresh meat with their chopsticks, they can watch the fish's stirring mouth," the UDN report said.
"I have tried my best to offer my customers the finest dishes," the report quoted the chef, who was only identified by his surname, Wang, as saying.
But far from attracting booming business, the creation has brought the restaurant only trouble, with animal-rights groups and members of the public condemning the restaurant for its cruelty to fish.
"This is shocking and disgusting. How can someone be so cruel? It's alright if you want to eat a fish, but do you need to put the fish through so much torture?" the paper quoted a source identified as Miss Chen as saying.
Miss Chen urged the Chiayi City Government to ban the restaurant from serving "dead-and-alive fish," because though carp is not an endangered species, "the restaurant is still being cruel to animals and shows no respect for life."
Even Chiayi city authorities disapprove of serving the "dead-and-alive fish." One official, Huang Wen-hsien, called it inhuman to serve a fish while it is still alive.
"The fish's eyes stare at you when you're eating its meat. Do you have the heart to swallow its meat?" he asked.