Hed Chef: Fish maw soup
With just six weeks to Chinese New Year, it is not too early to plan your festive menu.
Eating out may seem convenient, but there is something special about hosting a home-cooked festive meal, especially the reunion dinner.
And it is possible to dine well without burning a hole in your wallet.
Today's recipe is for a fish maw (dried swim bladder) soup made from superior chicken stock.
You do not have to splurge on the finest fish maw - you can get a decent grade of fish maw at affordable prices.
Ready-to-use canned crab meat is a tad pricey, but it is value for money if you think about the time and effort you save from not having to boil the crabs and pick through the shells.
If you do not have cognac or brandy, use Shaoxing wine.
The most time-consuming part of this recipe is simmering the stock for over three hours. The result is amazingly tasty and flavourful. Plus, you get to control the amount of salt used.
Chicken feet give the stock a natural gumminess.
If you shop at the wet market, try buying a mother hen. This is a traditional favourite for making superior stock. It is not readily available though.
Check with your chicken seller if you can pre-order one. Or make do with the usual chicken, which is what I used in this recipe.
Tip: To get more mileage out of the stock ingredients, do not discard them after setting aside your superior stock. Add 3 litres of water to the chicken meat and bones and boil over low heat for another 40 minutes. Strain and keep this chicken stock for cooking other dishes.
Watch this space for more festive recipes in the coming weeks.
- 12.2 litres water
- 1 whole chicken (1.2kg), skinned and cut into large pieces
- 20 chicken feet (600g)
- 50g ginger, smashed
- 50g garlic, skin on and lightly crushed
- 50g dried fish maw
- 454g crab claw meat
- 4 egg whites
- 1 flat tbsp salt
- 5 tbsp potato starch
- 3 tbsp cognac
- Dash of pepper
- 10g coriander, coarsely chopped
1. In a pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Blanch chicken and chicken feet until there is no visible blood.
2. Discard water and give chicken and chicken feet a rinse under the tap.
3. In a large and sturdy pot, bring 8.5 litres of water to a boil on high heat. Place chicken and chicken feet into pot with ginger and garlic.
4. Cover pot and allow water to come to a boil.
5. Lower heat to medium-low and boil for 3½ hours. (A)
6. Turn off heat.
7. Pour stock through a sieve into a clean pot. Skim and discard any visible oil. Set aside.
8. Discard boiled meat, bones, ginger and garlic.
9. In another pot, bring 1.5 litres of water to a boil.
10. Add in dried fish maw. (B)
11. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until softened.
12. Discard boiling liquid and rinse fish maw.
13. Slice fish maw into 1cm-thick strips. Set aside.
14. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add in fish maw and allow mixture to come to a boil. (C)
15. Boil on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
16. Add in crab meat and allow mixture to come to a boil.
17. Gradually pour in the egg whites into mixture, stirring continuously.
18. Add in salt and stir. Allow mixture to come to a simmer.
19. In a bowl, mix potato starch with 200ml of water. Stir until starch is dissolved.
20. Add starch mixture into soup, stirring continuously.
21. Add in cognac and pepper.
22. Let soup come to a boil.
23. Garnish with coriander just before serving.
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