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Dried seafood trading in Hong Kong

Ever wondered why there are so many dried seafood shops in Hong Kong, especially in Sheung Wan? This is because 50 years ago, the district was prominently selling salty fish that had previously been dried on rooftops or pavements. Locals were particularly fond of the snack and as the area became more residential, stores extended their offering to other promising options such as abalone, sea cucumber, shark fins, fish maw bladders, and numerous other seafood delicacies.

Although eating such ingredients is often perceived as bizarre to the western world, dried seafood has been used in the making of Traditional Chinese Medicine tonics for thousands of years. For example, fish maw is said to be full of collagen and to improve fertility. It also relieves circulatory and skin problems.

The Sea Cucumber is another popular Hong Kong cooking ingredient but not only! It is also used in Chinese medicine.

In fact, it is known to relieve chronic joint pain thanks to its high level of Chondroitin Sulfate, the main component of cartilage. That same component also helps prevent blood clotting. It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and also provides wound healing properties in gum disease. It is an excellent boost for the immune system. Consumed as food its high level of protein makes it one of the highest source of protein only second to egg whites. So, ready to swap your protein milkshake for a sea cucumber concoction?

The area comes to life in the morning when trucks deliver new arrivals to be spread on the streets and dried in the open sun. This is another unusual habit that always surprises visitors.

While some of these products come from endangered species or are simply banned, the demand for dried seafood is not diminishing, sometimes reaching very high prices. Hong Kong has been one of the main centres of the trade for years and looking at the connections that exist between government agencies, fishermen, poachers and Chinese traffickers; the business is not set to disappear anytime soon.

To learn more about our dried seafood tours or if you fancy trying this local delicacy, contact Hong Kong A La Carte at contact@hkalacarte.com