Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fish Maw Soup

In Cantonese culinary, 鲍参翅肚 (abalone, sea cucumber, shark fin, and fish stomach) are considered the top four gourmet items from the sea. The fish stomach referenced here is the fish maw.

For those who don’t know, fish maw is the air bladder (also called swim bladder) that is found in all fish except sharks and rays. The maws served in restaurants are usually from the conger pikes. The cleaned maw is dried and then deep fried to make it puffy. In this state it will keep indefinitely. . The maw in itself is a texture ingredient only, it has no fishy taste, and is usually cooked with other strongly flavoured takes on the flavor of surrounding ingredients it is cooked with like a sponge.

Like a lot of ingredients in Chinese culinary traditions, the fish maw is an excellent source of collagen and is
regarded as a nourishing tonic that helps blood circulation and beneficial to the general health. 

Now we know what they are, how can we prepare them for cooking? 

Fish maws are sold dried in two forms – deep fried or non-deep fried. Deep fried fish maws are puffy, light and look like a yellow sponge or pork rind. Whereas the other type is in stiff, cream-colored sheet. For the deep fried ones, all you have to do is to soak them in cold water or simmer to reconstitute to rid of some of the oil.  For the non-deep fried ones,  deep fry them in moderately hot oil until it puffs up and become white. Then soak it until pliable and also to remove some of the oil.  Repeat the soaking if necessary.  The fish maw is now ready and good to go, just cut them into slices of desired size.


Fish maw , soaked and cut into bite size
4 large/small handful dried scallops - soaked
1 whole chicken
6 shitake mushrooms, soaked
1/2 handful yoke chook/solomon’s seal
6 - 8 pieces wai san/chinese yam slices
1 tbsp kei chi/wolfberries
2/4 cup dried longan
3 slices fresh ginger
1 tsp shaoxing wine


Wash and soak the yoke chook, wai san, kei chi and longan in cool water for at least one hour.

Wash and cut up the chicken into 8 big pieces.  Put them and the ginger slices in the pressure cooker and put enough water to cover the chicken.  Bring it to the boil over medium heat, occasionally skimming off the foam that rises to the top.  When most of the scum is removed, cover with lid and pressurized for 30 - 45 minutes.

Release the pressure and remove the lid.  Strain the soup and skim away the fat. 

Clean the pressure cooker.

Put the chicken stock into the pressure cooker together with dried scallops, yoke chook, wai san, kei chi, longan and shitake mushrooms.  Cover and pressurized for 30 minutes.  Release the pressure before removing the cover.

Add in the fish maw and boil until it is soft and tender.

Add shaoxing wine and season with salt if necessary(i normally do not like to add salt to herbal soup)

Serve soup hot.

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