Simmered Fish Maw

Simmered Fish Maw, a perfect combination of color, aroma and taste, is a famous dish among Han Chinese. It falls into the Henan cuisine category. As the most important dish at the Fish Maw banquet, a traditional high-end banquet, Simmered Fish Maw embodies its standard and pursuit. The Process involves quick-boiling soft, white bright fish maw slices, laying them flat on a bamboo simmering grate, and simmering them in tip-top white broth over medium heat. The finished product is soft, tender, mellow, and gorgeous. The broth is bright white and smooth, hence the name Simmered White Fish Maw. Simmered Fish Maw is a famous traditional dish in Henan, and has been rated as a rarity for thousands of years. People generally speak favorably of it and take delight in talking about it. The other names of “fish maw” include “fish belly”, “fish bladder” and “fish glue”. It has been classified as one of the "Eight Treasured Delicacies of the Four Seas” since ancient times. Simmered Fish Maw was first recorded in Important Arts for the People’s Welfare written in the Northern Wei Dynasty. In the Tang and Song Dynasties, Simmered Fish Maw was already listed as a tribute to the emperor. Many books compiled and written in the Song Dynasty contain accounts of and introductions to Simmered Fish Maw.
70% of the success of Simmered Fish Maw rests with soaking (a consummate skill of Henan cuisine chefs), and 30% rests with cooking. Soaking is a very challenging task—especially so when it comes to soaking fish maw. It would be hard for a chef to handle it accurately if he does not have ten years of experience over the stove. Generally, soaking continues until the stuff becomes bulky and the interior is thoroughly soaked. When it is as fluffy as sponge, it is ready. Rinse it many times until it becomes pure white and has no foul odors. Now, the major ingredient—fluffy, crisp, pure white, and pale yellow fish maw— is ready to be made into the most important dish (first hot dish) at a traditional high-end banquet. The best cooking techniques for Simmered Fish Maw are braising and simmering. Bamboo grate simmering in Henan cuisine is a unique, world-famous technique. For hundreds of years, “simmering without liquid starch depends solely on time and effort” has become a shared pursuit and standard among chefs and gourmets. Soaked fish maw is flavorless in itself, so the dish is prepared by cooking it in top-quality tasty broth. After flavor has got into the fish maw and the latter has absorbed enough broth during braising and simmering, a dish of tender, smooth, and fragrant fish maw in bright white broth is ready.
Fish maw is rich in proteins and low in fat content. It tonifies the kidney, strengthens the lung, cures spontaneous emission and leukorrhagia, replenishes vigor, nourishes tendons, stops bleeding, and alleviates bruises. It is most suitable for those with weak lungs and kidneys, those with anemia and those who are weak. It is very helpful for those in bad health, but those suffering from "diseases caused by external factors" and “phlegm retention” are advised to refrain from eating it, for it will lead to "greasiness and stagnation”, compromise the expected efficacy, and cause harm instead of bringing benefit.
When Simmered Fish Maw is served as a finished product, its pure white and lithe body would dance between the chopsticks—reminiscent of a scene where “one feasts on beauty”. Once in the mouth, a mellow, delicious taste would linger on the tip of the tongue and stimulate the taste buds with such a lasting, refreshing fragrance that an edge is given to the appetite. As you chew the lithe, crisp fish maw, you experience a unique smooth and glutinous mouth feel that adds infinite fun to the meal.
If you can have a taste of “Simmered Fish Maw”, a treasured delicacy of Henan and “a sure success brought by constant effort”, it would be a major fortunate, happy, and good event in your diet.
Preparation Technique
Soaked fish maw: 800 grams; 10–12 flowering cabbages; 1 mushroom; winter bamboo shoots and sliced ham (2 pieces each); refined salt (8 grams); monosodium glutamate (2 grams); yellow wine (12 grams); ginger juice (10 grams); lard (80 grams); white broth (600 grams); a modicum of starch.
Nutrient value
The Process of Simmered Fish Maw is as follows:
1. Lay mushrooms, winter bamboo shoots, and sliced ham flat on the bamboo simmering grate in a beautiful pattern. Put broad fish maw slices in the middle first, then on both sides, and at last on the bottom. Make them form a circle. Press them with a plate. Scald them in broth for future use.
2. Put the sautéing pan on the stove. Pour in oil. Add white broth and seasonings when the oil heats up. Put fish maw into the pan. Wait until the broth boils. Simmer it over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Turn up the heat and cook it until the broth thickens and turns milky white. Remove the plate. Take out the bamboo grate. Place the fish maw into the plate upside down. Put thoroughly scalded flowering cabbages around the fish maw. Pour the remaining juice in the pan over the materials. The dish is ready!

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