Cantonese Sizzling Fish Maw and Chicken Pot (CNY2021)
What is fish maw?
Fish maw, pronounced ‘fa-gau’ in Chinese Cantonese and ‘hua-jiao’ in Chinese Mandarin, is one of Cantonese’s favourite luxury food ingredients. I usually prepare it for important festival, such as Mid-Autumn Festival or Chinese New Year. Fish maw is dried swim bladder of large fish like croaker. In Cantonese cuisine, it is considered one of the four delicacies of the sea – abalone, sea cucumber, shark’s fin and fish maw. Among them, I like fish maw and sea cucumber the most but wouldn’t eat or purchase any shark’s fin, though I know it’s still commonly seen in many family gathering dinners or wedding banquettes.
Fish maw is a good source of collagen and low in fats. It helps with blood circulation, and is best for people with weak lungs and kidneys or suffering from anemia. It is soft and smooth, rich in gelatin and absorbs the flavors of other ingredients. Fish maw is such a luxury food ingredient that it needs to be taken good care. It usually requires more than 10 hours of reconstitution before it is soft and usable. Fish maw is suitable for making soup, stew, or even Cantonese dessert. I use small fish maw for soup and dessert and bigger size ones for stew and braising with other ingredients.
How to prepare fish maw
It takes a day to prepare fish maw. The larger and thicker it is, the longer time it needs to be soaked in water. In this recipe, I would use a so called ‘cold water reconstitution’, soak the fish maw in cold water mainly. It takes longer time, but it keeps collogen the most.
Ingredients – all ingredients can be obtained in Chinese grocery store
- Fish maw, in medium size, about a palm size long, 5, about 100g, enough for 4-6 serving
- Ginger, 50g
- Green onion, a bunch
- Cantonese rice wine, 5tbsp
How to do – Start the reconstitution procedure in the morning a day before cooking
- Wash dry fish maw in running water roughly; soak the fish maw in plenty of cold water for 6-8 hours till they are soft enough to bend. Change water twice in order to eliminate some fishy smell;
2. 50g of ginger slices and a bunch of green onion in a big soup pot, plenty of water, bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes; add about 5tbsp of rice wine into the ginger broth; put the fish maw in, poach for 1-2 minutes in medium-high heat; then remove the fish maw from the pot; remove the ginger and green onion from the broth, let the broth cool to room temperature; put the fish maw back to the broth, add a bit more cold water in so that there will be enough room for the fish maw to expand; soak for 8-12 hours. Keep in fridge if room temperature is too high;
(NOTE – the ginger broth should be completely cooled down before putting the fish maw back in.)
3. The fish maw should be soft enough before cooking the other day. I usually cut it apart into 4 pieces with scissors, about half palm size large. Clean carefully again, if there’s dirt on the surface of the hollow.
Braised Fish Maw and Shiitake Mushroom
In my previous recipe – Braised Fish Maw and Shiitake Mushroom, I use hot water to reconstitute dry fish maw –
“50g of ginger slices and a bunch of spring onion in a big soup pot, plenty of water, bring to boil. Then put in the fish maw, lid on and heat off immediately. Leave it and check the other day to see if they are soft enough. If not, change a pot of clean water and soak for a few more hours. It really depends on how thick and how big the fish maw is. “
Such way is better for thick fish maw. If your fish maw is in small size or you are uncertain, use ‘cold water‘ method in this recipe.
Braising is my favourite way of cooking fish maw. My previous fish maw recipe for Chinese New Year 2020, Braised Fish Maw and Shiitake Mushroom, is one of my top viewed recipes. In that recipe, fish maw was braised with other high quality dried seafood and dried shiitake mushroom. Its gelatine alike texture absorbs flavours of other ingredients.
In this recipe, I would reduce the sauce, stir-fry a lot of garlic, shallot and green onion to boost their aroma, and serve the dish in a hot, sizzling small pot. Cantonese call such cooking method ‘啫啫’, pronounced ‘jue-jue’ in Chinese Cantonese. This cooking method is very popular in Cantonese regions especially in cold seasons.
Ingredients – ingredients can be obtained in Chinese grocery store
- Fish maw
- Chicken, half, about 500g, better use good quality of fresh chicken
- Ginger, 10g
- Green onion, 1 bunch
- Garlic, 8 cloves
- Shallot, 8
- Red chili pepper, 1, for garnishing
- Oyster sauce, 3tbsp
- Abalone sauce, 3tbsp
- Light soy sauce, 3tbsp
- Cantonese rice wine, 6tbsp, or any Chinese cooking wine (liao-jiu)
- Salt, 1/2tsp
- Sugar, 1/2tsp
How to do – better use a non-stick wok
Prepare other ingredients –
- Chicken chopped to big pieces, mixed them with 1tsp of rice wine, cornstarch, light soy sauce, and 1/2tsp of salt and sugar, marinade for 10 minutes;
- A bunch of green onion cut to matchsticks, 10g of ginger sliced, shallot peeled and halved, red chili pepper seeded and sliced, garlic peeled;
- In a mixing bowl, put in 3tbsp of oyster sauce, abalone sauce, and light soy sauce, and 5tbsp of rice wine, mix well.
- Heat 2tbsp of oil on wok, in medium-high heat, stir-fry ginger, half portions of garlic and shallot till fragrant;
- Put in chicken chunks, also stir-fry till golden;
3. Put in the fish maw, seasoning sauce, and a bit more water, lid on, bring to boil then braise in medium heat. Check every 5 minutes and stir the ingredients, don’t overcook otherwise fish maw will just melt away. Fish maw will absorb liquid so add a little more water if needed. Braise 15 minutes till fish maw is tender and silky; Have a taste and you may adjust with a little more oyster sauce or abalone sauce;
4. Reduce the sauce in high heat but keep small amount of sauce; put in the white part of green onion and red chili pepper, flip the wok and mix well;
5. Heat 1tbsp of oil in a small casserole, such as a clay pot; in high heat, stir-fry the rest garlic, shallot and green onion till fragrant; transfer the braised fish maw and chicken into the pot, sprinkle 1tbsp of rice wine from the edge of the pot, lid on and serve right away;
6. This fish maw dish should be served with steamed jasmine rice.
- 花胶 约100克（4-6人份）
- 鲜鸡 半只，约500克
- 姜 50克
- 葱 2把
- 蒜 8瓣
- 红葱头 8颗
- 红辣椒 1个（装饰用）