When people hear that Japanese eat turtles they almost freak out and consider it brutal. Most associate turtles with the “tortoise”, those fantastic large-sized sea turtles you see in the zoo, or see in Hawaii on the beach.
Well this turtle is not as friendly as it looks. A long time ago, I was at Daichi in Kyoto, perhaps the most famous suppon restaurant in Japan. I asked to see the turtle before dinner, and a green mid-sized turtle appeared. I went to touch it and the server said, “dame”, which meant don’t, or no, or stop. He took hashi (wooden chopsticks) and the turtle snapped them in half.
These turtles have powers so they say….according to archeological evidence, soft-shelled snapping turtles have been eaten in Japan since at least the 1st century and the cuisine has a history in China going back some 5000 years.
Since ancient times the Chinese considered suppon to be equivalent to medicine and the Japanese adopted this belief as well. Japanese doctors recommend turtle stew for late stage cancer patient ad it is also considered to promote sexual potency in men.
Turtle has very few parts that cannot be eaten; the hard part of the shell, nails, leg bones and bladder are discarded.