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Aaron Sta Maria
Written by Aaron Sta Maria

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan

Try These Nutritious and Tasty Fish Maw Soup Recipes for Better Health

Fish maw soup can pack a healthy and flavourful punch. Experimenting with different recipes can help you decide which cooking style suits you best.

Fish maw soup cooked with chicken in a floral ceramic container alongside a green bowl with dried fish maw.

Fish maw soup is a nutritious dish. Also known as the dried form of a fish’s swim bladder, fish maw is highly prized for its abundance of gelatine and health benefits. 

The Compendium of Materia Medica – a comprehensive encyclopaedia of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – states that fish maw can nourish the Kidneys, blood, and yin (passive energy). In addition, it can help boost energy levels and maintain skin health.

Be mindful that high demand and limited supply have led to the production of imitations. Recognising the specific traits of real fish maw can help you tell it apart from fakes.

Real fish maw has a golden yellow colour, but fake fish maw has an abnormal whitish-yellow shade. The former also has a natural grainy texture, but not the latter. The authenticity of fish maw can also be certified by a light sea smell, unlike the chemical or plastic smell associated with imitations.

Read on to discover tasty soup recipes that combine the right amount of flavour and nutrition.

Comfort Food with a Herbal Twist

Slices of Solomon’s seal on a white plate
Solomon’s seal is one of many ingredients used in herbal fish maw soup.

The preparation and cooking of this Chicken and Fish Maw soup recipe will take approximately six hours and 15 minutes. To give it a go, you’ll need:  

  • Two whole chickens 
  • A piece of chicken breast 
  • 2.5 litres of water  
  • 30 grams (g) Solomon’s Seal (huang jing, 黃精) 
  • 20g wild yam (shan yao, 山药) 
  • 20g dried longan 
  • 10g goji berries (gou qi zi, 枸杞子) 
  • 30g jujubes (da zao, 大枣) 
  • 100g dried arrowroot (ge gen, 葛根) 
  • 50g fish maw (soaked and cut into smaller pieces) 
  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of salt 

First, soak the fish maw in a bowl of water for an hour or until it softens. Cut them into smaller pieces. 

Next, blanch the chickens before rinsing them alongside herbs. Then, place them and the water into a slow cooker. Set on high and cook the ingredients for five and a half hours. 

Add the fish maw to the mixture and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Season with salt and serve. You may substitute the arrowroot, Solomon’s seal, and wild yam with tangerine peel

Keeping it Traditional  

The preparation of this Fish Maw and Shrimp Nyonya soup recipe has three separate components. These include:  

  • Shrimp balls 
  • Crispy garlic oil 
  • Soup with fish maw and mushrooms  

Making the shrimp balls  

You’ll need:  

  • 300g fresh prawns 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/8 tsp of ground black pepper  
  • 1 teaspoon tsp sesame oil 
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch  

Peel and devein the shrimp, put them into a food processor and grind them into a paste-like consistency. Add the rest of the ingredients and use a chopstick to stir until it forms a paste.

Next, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Pinch off a bit of the paste and drop it into the water. Taste to see if the seasoning is sufficient. If it is, cover the paste and refrigerate until the time of use.

Before cooking the soup, boil a medium-sized pot of water. Wet both your palms to prevent the paste from sticking to your hands. Roll them into balls and drop them into the water pot. When you see them rising to the top, let them cook for another minute before removing them. Lastly, dunk the balls into a plate of ice water.

Making the garlic oil  

A quarter cup of oil and five finely minced garlic cloves are needed to prepare the condiment.

Put the oil and minced garlic in a pan. Turn on the stove heat to low-medium and allow the oil to come to a bubble.

Once the garlic turns golden brown, remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the garlic to a jar or bowl to cool.

Making the soup

Fish maw and mushroom soup in a glass bowl on a folded rattan mat
A broth containing fish maw and mushrooms is one of three components of a Nyonya soup recipe.

You’ll need:  

  • 50g fish maw 
  • 1/4 tsp sugar 
  • 1 large carrot cut into half-inch slices 
  • 4 large-sized shiitake mushrooms soaked in warm water  
  • 6 cups chicken broth 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Pour the chicken broth into a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer. Add the fish maw, carrots, and mushrooms, and bring the stock to a boil. Then, lower the heat and cover the pot for 15 minutes.

Check to see if the fish maw has softened after 15 minutes. Add the cooked shrimp balls and cook for another minute before turning off the heat. Garnish with the crispy garlic and drizzle with the garlic oil before serving.

Using Herbal Ingredients in Different Fish Maw Recipes  

Dried arrowroot will enhance the sweetness of a soup. The herb is usually used to manage fever, diarrhoea, thirst, diabetes, acute intestine infection, or cardiovascular disease.

Solomon’s seal can alleviate fatigue and improve appetite by tonifying Spleen and Stomach qi. It may also treat a dry cough or sore throat by moistening the Lungs. The herb’s ability to regulate the Kidneys can help fix lower back pain, diabetes, and weakness.

Wild yam can address Qi Deficiencies. It’s a suitable remedy for poor appetite, chronic diarrhoea, asthma, diabetes, frequent urination, and a dry cough. Consumption of goji berries may benefit the eyes and the Kidney, Liver, and Lung organ systems.

Fish maw soup is a healthy addition to your diet. Trying out different recipes will help you identify preferable flavours and how best to adapt them to your schedule. You may also consume a fish essence tonic to supplement your body with protein, taurine, amino acids, and minerals. If you wish to combine the delicacy with herbal ingredients, speak to a licensed TCM practitioner.

References

  1. Imperial Bird’s Nest International Company Limited. FISH MAW. [online] [Accessed 30 September 2022]
  2. New Malaysian Kitchen. Fish Maw Herbal Soup. [online] [Accessed 30 September 2022]
  3. What to Cook Today. NYONYA FISH MAW SOUP (HU PIOH / YU PIU SOUP. [online] [Accessed 30 September 2022]
  4. Chinese Herbs Healing. 2022. Kudzu Root (Ge Gen). [online] [Accessed 30 September 2022]
  5. White Rabbit Institute of Healing. Solomon’s Seal. [online] [Accessed 30 September 2022]
  6. TCM Blog by GinSen. Wild Yam (Shan Yao): Properties & Benefits. [online] [Accessed 30 September 2022]
  7. Gaia Herbs Farm. Goji. [online] [Accessed 30 September 2022]

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