Usually before Chinese New Year, fish maws will flood the Chinese New Year market. It is considered as one of the presentable gifts to friends and relatives as it is rather costly and not a common item in the dinner table during normal days because of its scarcity. It usually only appeared important feasts. Fish maw can be costly if it is of a good quality but what is sold in the supermarket are of average pricing and hence the price is much lower..
Every year, i will receive some fish maw from relatives and as far as I am concerned, i only cooked fish maw in napa cabbage soup like what late parents used to cook. (Recipe: Fish Maw Napa Cabbage Soup)
As per Wikipedia:
The swim bladder, gas bladder, fish maw or air bladder is an internal gas-filled organ that contributes to the ability of a fish to control its buoyancy, and thus to stay at the current water depth without having to waste energy in swimming. The swim bladder is also of use as a stabilizing agent because in the upright position the centre of mass is below the centre of volume due to the dorsal position of the swim bladder. Another function of the swim bladder is the use as a resonating chamber to produce or receive sound. In some Asian cultures, the swim bladders of certain large fishes are considered a food delicacy. In China they are known as fish maw, 花膠/鱼鳔, and are served in soups or stews. Swim bladders are also used in the food industry as a source of collagen. They can be made into a strong, water-resistant glue, or used to make isinglass for the clarification of beer. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swim_bladder)
I got to know this soup about 3 years ago when a Facebook member in Kuching (presumably he is a seafood wholesaler) asked me for a recipe for fish maws. I told him I did not have a recipe beside napa cabbage soup. Subsequently, I saw him posted this dish which I was told that he learned from a Sarawakian Foochow friend.
This year, since I have quite a lot of fish maws, I have decided to try out this soup. There are not many recipes in the internet but those who blogged are basically Malaysian bloggers who claimed that it is a Foochow delicacy. I cannot locate any more resources pertaining to this dish. I asked a Sarawak group whereby there are many Foochow residing in the town of Sibu and Sarikei, apparently there is such a dish in their local restaurants. In West Malaysia, this seems to be a common soup being served in Foochow restaurant in Sitiawan, Perak.
Whatever is the origin, it is a tasty. tangy and spicy soup and the fish maw provide a unique texture to the soup. This recipe is a guide as there are so many other additional ingredients that you can add into the soup. In addition, the quantities stated are also subject to individual preference. If you like an ingredient more, feel free to adjust to your liking. What I am sharing is more of a concept of cooking the dish..
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 6-8 adults
- 1 medium size of fish maw
- 1 litre of Chicken stock
- 8 scallops, soak and shredded
- 1/3 cup of minced meat
- 1/3 cup of shitake mushrooms or wood ear fungus , sliced thinly
- 1/3 cup of firm taukwa, sliced thinly
- 1/3 cup of sweet potatoes starch or corn starch diluted with 1/3 cup of water
- 1/3 cup of white vinegar or black vinegar
- 1/4 cup of tomato sauce
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of sesame chilli oil (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 2 sprigs of spring onion or coriander or Chinese celery, chopped
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of white pepper (depend on the spiciness required)
* All quantities listed is for reference and feel free to add more or reduce the quantities to suit your families’ taste buds.
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Blanch the fish maw in hot boiling water for 2-3 minutes until soft. Drain and cut into about 2 cm strips. Set aside.
- Cut the firm taukwa and wood ear fungus into about 1 cm strips. Set aside.
- In a pot, put 2 tablespoons of oil, sauté the minced garlic until aromatic. Add the firm taukwa, minced meat and wood ear fungus and stir fry for 1-2 minutes until the meat is set. To avoid the meat from sticking, you can add a bit of water to the minced meat to separate the meat first.
- Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce and vinegar. Bring to boil and once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes until the meat flavour is developed.
- Add the fish maw followed by starches and constant stirring is needed to ensure even distribution of the starch.
- Once the soup turns transparent, drizzle the egg slowly to the soup. When the soup boils, add the white pepper and salt. Off the heat. Transfer the soup to serving bowl, sprinkle with chopped coriander and drizzle with sesame oil or chilli sesame oil before serving.
If you like the Chinese Classic Hot And Sour Soup (酸辣汤）, chances are you will like this soup. I have decided to add the fish maw at the later stage as some fish maw cannot withstand long hours of cooking. However, better grade fish maw can withstand long cooking without disintegration. In fact you can add the fish maw at any juncture you feel like it. This soup is a good choice of soup during reunion dinner when shark fins when become rarer recently.
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