One of my favourite Chinese New Year (CNY) ingredients is fish maw. I like to eat it throughout the year, and not just during this festive season. It’s actually the swim bladder found in certain fish, and scary as it may sound to some, I love the taste and texture. They are delicious when braised or in steamboat, but one of my favourite ways of eating it is to make fish maw soup, like those chunky shark fin soup served during Chinese wedding dinners. Another good news for fish maw lovers is that it is said to be high in collagen.
When buying fish maw, go for higher grade ones without the “greasy stink” though I know some people actually like this smell. Soaking the fish maw in hot water until softened then squeezing out the liquid and repeating this process help greatly to remove the smell. My favourite are threadfin fish maw which is soft without weird smell and cooks quickly.
Crab meat, chicken and abalone lends an luxurious touch to the soup, but you may omit them if preferred.
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
800ml of good soup broth (I use a mixture of chicken broth and some broth from the abalone can)
25g fish maw soaked in hot water until softened, then cut to small pieces
3 slices ginger
4 pieces of woodear fungus soaked in hot water to soften and sliced thinly (discard the hard part on the centre underside of the fungus)
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms stems removed and caps sliced
200g cooked crab meat
1 tsp dark soy sauce for the colour, adjust to your preference
cornstarch solution mix 2 heaped tbsp corn flour with 4 tbsp water
salt or light soy sauce to taste
shredded chicken (boil a piece of chicken breast for about 15 minutes, shred when the chicken is cooled)
white pepper powder
Bring soup broth to a boil, add fish maw and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add fungus and shiitake mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add crab meat and bring to a simmer for another 3 minutes. Add dark soy sauce (1/4 tsp at a time) to acheive a slightly darker colour (adjust to your preference).
Before using cornstarch solution, stir again to dissolve cornflour in the mixture. Slowly pour in the cornstarch solution while stirring until you reach the consistency desired. For thicker and starchier soup, add more cornstarch solution; for a more watery and soupy consistency, add more broth.
Season with salt or light soy sauce if needed. Dish into serving bowls and top with abalone, chicken and coriander. Serve on the side white pepper powder and black vinegar.