Category Archives: Soups

Fish Maw Soup for Chinese New Year

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My mom sent us a package full of stuff for Chinese New Year. It had homemade dried pork, lop cheurng, dried dates, dried squid, melon candy, pork sung, and fish maw. My husband thought the fish maw looked like pork rinds. Well, they do, but I doubt they’d taste like pork rinds if he tried to eat them.

Fish maw, like tofu, is used more for its unique texture and ability to soak up other flavors it’s cooked with. It is almost tasteless in itself. It’s spongy, like sea cucumber. For Chinese New Year this would be an ideal soup to serve.

There are a couple ways fish maw is sold – processed and unprocessed. Processed means it is already fried and ready to be soaked in water. Unprocessed means it needs to be fried (by you) then soaked in water. You can tell if its processed if it looks puffed up, like pork rinds. The unprocessed ones look thinner and feel a lot harder.

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For other Chinese New Year Recipes, here are a few ideas:

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Fish Maw Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup processed fish maw, reconstituted in water and chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sliced ginger
  • 6-8 shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 dried scallops, reconstituted in water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 3 Tbsp water
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • red vinegar (optional)

Directions:

1) Soak the fish maw, mushrooms (if you are using the dried version) and scallops in a bowl of cold water until tender.

2) In a medium pot, boil a few (3 or 4) slices of ginger. Add the fish maw and boil for a minute or so. This will get rid of the remaining fishiness of the maw. Take out of boiling water and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Put fish maw back into the bowl of cold water.

3) Bring chicken broth to a boil. Add remaining ginger, fish maw, mushrooms, scallops, simmer for 10 minutes. Add cornstarch and water mixture to thicken soup. If you want it to thicken more, add more cornstarch + water. Stir in egg whites. Add salt and white pepper to your taste. Serve in bowls with red vinegar if your guests desire it.

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Soak the fish maw, mushrooms (if you are using the dried version) and scallops in a bowl of cold water until tender.

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In a medium pot, boil a few (3 or 4) slices of ginger.

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Add the fish maw and boil for a minute or so. This will get rid of the remaining fishiness of the maw.

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Take out of boiling water and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Put fish maw back into the bowl of cold water.

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Bring chicken broth to a boil. Add remaining ginger, fish maw, mushrooms, scallops, simmer for 10 minutes.

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Add cornstarch and water mixture to thicken soup. If you want it to thicken more, add more cornstarch + water. Stir in egg whites. Add salt and white pepper to your taste.

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Serve in bowls, with red vinegar and white pepper as condiments.

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Happy New Year!

Chinese Snow Ear Soup

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Snow Ear Soup, White Fungus Soup, Silver Ear Soup, White Wood Ear Soup, it goes by a variation of names. But there are no ears in this soup, nor any silver, wood or snow.

There are an endless amount of Chinese soups that are made with a light, simple broth, and most likely eaten with daily meals. Most of the ingredients have medicinal purposes, or help combat ‘yeet hay’. ‘Yeet Hay’ translates literally to ‘Hot Air’. This is incredibly hard to explain to non-speaking Cantonese people, because I swear this condition only exists with Cantonese people. Let me try to explain it the best I can. You can develop ‘yeet hay’ when you eat too many certain foods, like greasy foods, such as fried chicken, pizza, potato chips. After eating an excess of a greasy food, your breath becomes uncomfortably hot, like you’re developing the beginning stages of a sore throat, or even an actual sore throat. Sometimes, you might develop a canker sore, or in severe cases, a nosebleed. That’s because the balance of your ‘cool and ‘hot’ in your body has been affected. Fortunately, there are a number of soups that help counteract this ‘yeet hay’ to balance out your system.

Of course, hot foods aren’t the only culprit in giving you ‘hot air’. Fruits such as lychee, melon, or for me, strawberries can cause yeet hay. Eating too much of these fruits sometimes causes a mild allergic reaction. This is why most Cantonese people drink soup with every meal, so it helps balance out the other foods around them.

If you still don’t buy into all this, I’m not going to try to convince you. It’s hard enough to explain to my husband (a Caucasian). But think of it this way: when you’re sick, all you want is a bowl of warm chicken soup. Now think of how soothing it would be to have a bowl of soup with every meal for preventative purposes. Sometimes too much of a good thing (like fried chicken) is never good for you. So moderation and prevention is best.

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3 of the ingredients in this soup are shiitake mushrooms, dried red dates, and white fungus. You can buy them in most Asian grocery stores, dehydrated in bags like these. They are relatively cheap.

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White fungus is a type of mushroom that is mild in flavor with a unique, jelly-like texture. It has a cooling effect when eaten in the soup, and carries medicinal properties as well.

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Dried red dates are also used in many Chinese soups. They give the soup a sweet flavor.

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And everyone knows what shiitake mushrooms are.

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Snow Ear Soup (makes 8-10 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pieces of snow ear fungus
  • 4-5 shiitake mushrooms
  • 10 dried red dates
  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb. pork shoulder (pork butt), cut into cubes
  • 10 cups water
  • salt

Directions:

1) In a large pot, combine water, pork shoulder and dates. Bring to a boil, then cover with lid and lower the heat to low-medium low.

2) Soak the shiitake mushrooms and snow ear fungus in a bowl of water for 20 minutes or until reconstituted with water. Cut the stems off the shiitake and snow ear, and chop the snow ear into bite sized pieces. Add into the pot of soup and simmer for at least an hour and a half. After you are done simmering, salt to taste, adding half a teaspoon and tasting until you are satisfied with the flavor. Serve hot. Leftovers can be stored in tupperware for up to 3 days.

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DSC_0030 Just a picture of the pork shoulder and dates. I never eat the pork or dates in the soup, I just like how they flavor the broth. You can also use chicken if you don’t prefer pork.

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