Fish maw is the dried form of fish air bladder. Fish maw can be divided into king fish maw, premium fish maw, grass seabass fish maw and fried fish maw in general. King fish maw and premium fish maw are the best quality and most valuable amongst the four types. Grass Seabass fish maw and fried fish maw are however more popular due to their economical pricing. Fish maw is also graded by their gender. Male fish bladder has thicker body and is soft and smooth, not easily dissolved in the mouth while female bladder has a thinner body and tender to bite.

Fish maw is one of the precious traditional Chinese ingredients rated along abalone, sea cucumber and shark’s fin due to it’s high nitritional content. Fish maw contains rich proteins and nutrients such as phosphor and calcium. It nourishes ‘yin’, replenishes kidney and boosts stamina. It is effective in healing weak lung and kidney, anemia, etc. It is suitable for consumption by any age group of either gender and is a kind of therapeutic food. The most important of all is that fish maw contains high viscosity gel protein and mucopolysaccharide which are important to lady’s skincare and capable of preserving fine complexion and invigorating blood circulation. Many Chinese people believe that drinking fish maw soup and eating fish maw will improve their skin and, for pregnant women, the skin of their babies. Furthermore, fish maw does not contain cholesterol and therefore it is a very valuable health enhancing ingredient suitable for long time consumption.

How to identify fake fish maw? 

Fake fish maw is common due to limited supply. Unethical businessmen use seafood such as squid, shark’s skin or head portion of fin soaked in hydrogen peroxide and sulphur followed by heat process to produce the imitations.  Also, it is common for substandard product to be disguised as top grade product. Unethical businessmen collect substandard, low value and broken fish maw and pour them into a special mold, gradually increase the thickness of the layers and add pressure. The finished product will get similar thickness of real fish maw. There have been cases of using pig’s skin and chemical plastic to imitate fish maw although uncommon. Look out for the following when making fish maw purchase:
– Colour :  Real fish maw has golden yellow colour whereas fake fish maw has light and whitish yellow unnatural colour.
– Grain :  Real fish maw has natural grain whereas fake fish maw does not have obvious and orderly grain.
– Smell :  Real fish maw has light sea water smell whereas fake fish maw has none and may carry chemical or plastic smell.

It is therefore strongly advised to buy fish maw from reputable shops.

How to store dried fish maw?

Store in cool and shaded area or refrigerated.

How to prepare fish maw before cooking?

Fish maw require pre-soaking before cooking. The soaking time will vary depending on the type of fish maw.

Premium fish maw :
– Soak fish maw in water for 12-18 hours until it soften.
– Change water from time to time and rinse with cool water to eliminate its fishy smell.
– Put ginger and shallot into a pot of fresh water and boil. Turn off the heat after the water is boiled.
– Put the soaked fish maw into the pot and tightly covered with the lid. Wait until the water cools down.
– Take out the fish maw and rinse with clean water then it is now ready for cooking.
– Soaked fish maw should be stored in the refrigerator at below 0℃ if not cooked. Thaw each time before serving.

Fish maw tubes :
– Soak fish maw in fresh water for 6-12 hours until it soften.
– Change water from time to time and rinse with cool water to eliminate its fishy smell.
– Put ginger and shallot into a pot of fresh water and boil. Turn off the heat after the water is boiled.
– Put the soaked fish maw into the pot and tightly covered with the lid. Wait until the water cools down.
– Take out the fish maw and rinse with clean water then it is now ready for cooking.
– Soaked fish maw should be stored in the refrigerator at below 0℃ if not cooked. Thaw each time before serving.

Fried fish maw :
– Soak fish maw in fresh water for about 10-15 minutes until it soften. Rinse with clean water and it is ready for cooking.
– Soaked fish maw should be stored in the refrigerator at below 0℃ if not cooked. Thaw each time before serving.

Why fish maw becomes thin and gel lacked after cooking?

Fish maw contains rich gel content which can be easily get melted if the cooking time is too long and the heat is too strong. We should pay attention to the control of soaking and cooking time and the heat temperatures. Avoid using hot water for soaking or cooking with strong heat in order to shorten the processing time. This will lead to loss of fish maw’s gel content.

Is older fish maw or fish maw having prolonged exposure to sunshine better in quality?

There is a saying that the older is the fish maw, the better is the quality. In fact, the length of storage does not affect the therapeutic value of fish maw. However, if the fish maw has been stored for a long time and exposed to long time sunshine, its texture will become stiffer and its golden yellow colour turns darker, that makes it look more appealing to customer. Moreover, its completely dry body can give bigger expandability after soaking.

source:http://www.emperorbrandbirdnest.com/our-news/product-knowledge/about-fish-maw.html

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