Do you want to try Chinese turtle soup? I found this old recipe from “The Chinese Cook Book.” It tells you to boil three live turtles, then fry them in “Fun Wine.” This little gem was published in 1917. Here is the recipe mostly verbatim.

Turtle Soup

3 turtles 
2 cups mushrooms 
2 cups chestnuts 
½ pound Chinese roast pork 
½ cup Fun Wine
1 teaspoonful ginger root juice 
25 cents' worth of Bug Kay


(a) Put the live turtles into a cooking-pan of cold water. Bring to a boil slowly.

(b) Remove the shell and interior. Wash. Cut the meat into pieces 1 inch by 1 inch by 1½ inches.

(c) Have a hot fire. Put 2 tablespoonfuls of oil into a frying-pan. When the oil is very hot put in the meat. Fun Wine, and ginger root juice. Fry for 10 minutes. Turn constantly.

(d) Cut the bamboo shoots into pieces ¾ inch by 1½ inches by 1/16 inch. Cut the pork into pieces ¾ inch by 1½ inches by ¾ inch.

(e) Add to the meat in the frying-pan, the mushrooms, chestnuts, bamboo shoots, pork and enough primary soup to cover. Bring to a boil.

(f) Put into a suitable bowl, add the Bug Kay, Dong Sum, Gay Gee, Yen York and steam for 1¾ hours.

(g) Skim off any oil which may be on the top. Salt to taste. Serve the soup in bowls.

Bug Kay is a plant and can be bought in any Chinese grocery store. It is used both for nourishment and for its flavor. Bug Kay and Dong Sum look like wooden sticks and must be removed before the soup is served.

THE CHINESE COOK BOOK, by Shiu Wong Chan of New York. Pages 99-100

“Put the live turtles into a cooking-pan of cold water. Bring to a boil slowly.”

My Notes

I looked up some of the strange-sounding ingredients. Here they are:

You can read “The Chinese Cook Book” in digital formats on the Internet Archive. This excellent website has a collection of historical cookbooks.

I’ve never tried turtle soup, but I was once forced to drink snake soup.