Introduction to Fish Maw

What is Fish Maw?

  • Fish maw is the commercial term for the dried swim bladders of large fish like croaker, red snapper and threadfin.
  • It has no fishy taste and absorbs the flavors of other ingredients.
  • Red snapper is graded according to sex: male bladders being better than the female ones.
  • For the Chinese, it is considered one of the big four delicacies of the sea "鮑、參、翅、肚".
  • It is sold dried in two forms – deep fried or dried. Deep fried ones are light and puffy, looking a lot like a yellow sponge or pork rind.
  • Whereas the other dried type is in stiff, cream-colored sheets.

Are there any health benefits?

  • Fish maw is a good source of collagen, calcium, improves blood circulation, helps in speeding up the recovery of wounds and nourishes the lungs.
  • It is so high in collagen high that they are also used in the food industry as a source of collagen.

Fried Fish Maw

  • Fried fish maw or 沙爆魚肚 or 油炸魚肚 looks white and puffy. In the 沙爆 or “sand exploded” method, dried swim bladders are continuously stirred in hot sand until it becomes white and expanded. 油炸 or “oil fried” is simply deep frying dried fish maw to achieve the same puffy results.
  • It is also recommended for plated dishes because it can reconstitute quickly, absorbs sauce easily and gives a delightful spongy texture to the dishes. A popular soup recipe (often served at banquets) is fried fish maw thick soup or “fish maw gung."

Dried Fish Maw

  • Dried fish maw or 黃花膠 usually comes from croaker(双牙). Croaker fish maw has higher nutritional value and dried fish maw is better than fried maw for nourishing soups.

How do I prepare Fish Maw?

  • Fish maw must be soaked till soft in water (ensure no oil or rice water) for hours, usually overnight depending on the thickness before it can be prepared.
  • It is another alternative for shark's fin and bird's nest in soups or stews.
  • Most recipes that require fish maw will tell you how to prepare it although it may vary due to the method of cooking. Some requires you to simmer it while others simply soak it using cold water. Basically, all fish maw should be deep-fried before anything else. If you bought the non-deep fried one, deep fry it in moderately hot oil until it puffs up and become white. Then soak it until pliable, rinse and scrub clean. Squeeze out the excess water after the soak to remove the oil.

Fish Maw

Fish Maw

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