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Sunday, 31 March 2013

A touch of Fuzhou

Fish maw is one of the delicacies that is typically eaten during Chinese New Year.   For those who are not familiar, it's an internal organ of the fish, also known as the swim or air bladder.  If you have ever wondered how a fish can stay put at a certain level so effortlessly, you have the answer now :)  And for the things that we Chinese eat...

Although fish maws is considered pricy, most of the times still cheaper than birds' nests or sea cucumbers.  Compared to the bird nest for its collagen quality and to sea cucumbers for its texture.   They are quite tasteless and odorless (except if you are unlucky enough to get one with fishy odors if they are not properly cleaned or rancid from oil used for deep frying).  They basically act like a sponge absorbing the flavors of soups or stews that they are cooked in.    

The different chinese clans have different ways of cooking fish maw.  In my Hokkien home, they are mostly added into soups, which i think is quite common with the Cantonese too (might be wrong, but as far as I know, the Cantonese in Hong Kong soaps love their Fa Kau (花胶) soups).   Quite some time ago, I had this opportunity to try out fish maw in a sweet and sour like stew in a town named Sitiawan where a majority of their Chinese are descendants of the Fuzhou clan.  A nice change compared to the taste that I am more used to.   Moreover I love sweet and sours, they are always very appetizing.

This was made sometime after the recent Chinese New Year and since it fits the theme for this month's Aspiring Bakers, here goes.

Since I am not from the Fuzhou clan, I made some references by looking up some recipes (among them Simply Beautiful and Healthy Living), and found that they were mostly quite similar.  With a rough idea of the key ingredients (fish maw, a protein (meat/prawns) plus tomato/chilli sauce) and memories of the one I had, I played by ear from there.   And I added some roast pork which I had on hand that particular day :) In short, this is not any heirloom recipe but i believe it does have a touch of Fuzhou in it!

Verdict? Delicious, the family loved it!

  • 300g ready fried fish maw (rinse, soak for 30 minutes, drain, squeeze out water and cut into smaller pieces)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup minced meat (season with a pinch of salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of cornflour)
  • 200g roast pork
  • 4 shitake mushrooms (soak until soften then sliced)
  • 1 can button mushrooms (wash and sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, julienned 
  • 800 ml water
  • Plum Sauce (3 tbsp)
  • Combination of tomato sauce (Around 1/2 cup) and tomato puree (Around 1/4 cup) or just tomato sauce 
  • Sweet chilli sauce (Around 1/3 cup)
  • Sugar (2 tbsp)
  • Soy sauce (1 tbsp)
  • Salt

  1. Heat up some oil in a flat and slightly wide based pot and saute garlic and ginger until fragrant.
  2. Add in carrot, minced meat and mushrooms.  Fry until meat is no longer reddish.
  3. Add in fish maw and mix well.
  4. Add in water and let simmer for around 30 minutes or until fish maw is soft.   Add in roast pork half way through so that it will not be too soft from all the simmering.
  5. Add in sauces and seasonings.  Taste to suit preference.

I am submitting this dish to Aspiring Bakers #29:Heirloom and Local Dialect Recipes 家传菜/籍贯菜 (March 2013) hosted by FHL of Faith Hope Love.


Hi Adeline, my hubby's family is foo chow, so i get to enjoy this once a while, esp during CNY. Its very appetizing isnt it. My MIL makes a simple one with tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar. We attack it in big bowls all by itself :)

Looks hearty and flavoursome!

Adeline , I wouldn't mind a bowl or three of your hearty and tasty stew :D I just can imagine how good it is paired with steamed rice !

I love fish maw, your dish sounds very appetizing. We usually stock up during CNY so we can still cook it a few months after CNY :)

Hi, this look very appetizing and delicious. Love to have extra mushroom, please. :)

Have a nice week ahead.

I am FuZhou, and I love this dish very much.

It sure looks very delicious. I have seen fish maw but don't know how they are cooked. I guess the next time I come across it, I will buy and try this recipe.

@Esther: Totally agree with you that you can eat this on its own :)

@Angie:Thank you!

@Anne: Come, come, my pleasure to share some with you :)

@Yen: Worth stocking up right, they have the best stocks during CNY don't they?

@Amelia : Thank you!

@Caca : I hope mind is not too far from the authentic ones :)

@PH : Yes, do try this version when you decide to cook some fish maw :)

Thanks for submitting your post.. =)

This looks great! I love all the mushrooms in here!

hi ade, i do have a packet of fish maw at home. Initially i wanted to make some soup during cny ..of course it didnt happen. I might like to try this out..kiv first!

I cooked this during CNY but using half bottle of Kampung Koh of chili sauce..hehehe..

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