3 Fish Maw Soup Recipe Ideas from 3 Chinese Ethnic Groups 鱼鳔汤谱

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3 fish maw soup recipe ideas from 3 different Chinese ethnic groups. Each has its own charm. Take your pick and enjoy this somewhat exotic dried seafood.  

There are some things I eat since I was a child and know nothing about. Fish maw is one of them. I love their spongy texture. It soaks up the soup and every bite drips flavour.

Fish maw is a common name for the swim bladder of large fishes. It helps the fish controls their buoyancy.

Fish maw is sold either dried or dried and fried. The dried version is known as 花膠 (hua jiao). The fried and dried version is known as 魚鰾 (yu biao). The fish maw is usually deep fried with oil but many people are concerned about the oil used. There is a new way to "fry" the fish maw. Using sand. Interesting right? 

The 魚鰾 (yu biao) version is the most common and affordable type in Singapore. It also meant that it does not have to be fried. 

There are several types of fish maw soup in Singapore. Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese and Hakka. There is also a Nonya style fish maw soup recipe at noobcook.com.

Recipe 1: Clear fish maw soup recipe

Hokkien and Teochew style fish maw soup tend to be clear soups. This recipe is a fairly basic one, using pork ribs to flavour the stock. It can be substituted with chicken.  


  • 500g pork ribs
  • 100g dried conpoy
  • 1 can of champagne mushrooms
  • 6-7 slices ginger
  • 3 small fried fish maw
  • 20 to 30 white pepper corns
  • 5 red dates
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2500ml water
  • Salt and white pepper to taste


  1. Parboil the pork ribs for 20 minutes. Rinse and clean
  2. Wash and clean all the other ingredients
  3. Soak the fish maw and conpoys till they are soft
  4. Cut the fish maw into 3-cm rings 
  5. Crush the pepper corns
  6. Peel and slice the carrot
  7. Cut the mushrooms in halves
  8. Bring the 2500ml water to a boil in a large soup pot
  9. Add the pork ribs, conpoy, white pepper corns, carrot, mushrooms, and ginger
  10. Cook for an hour
  11. Add the fish maw, red dates and cook for another 15 minutes
  12. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Recipe 2: Thickened fish maw soup recipe

This is a Cantonese style fish maw soup. It resembles shark fin soup. A nice alternative to that now-offensive-dish. Make sure you cut the ingredients thinly or finely so that you can get a bit of all the ingredients in one spoonful. 


  • 1 chicken thigh
  • 10 dried conpoy (scallops)
  • 2 to 3 slices back bacon
  • 3 small fried fish maw
  • 1 small bunch of bamboo fungus
  • 1 stalk chopped spring onion
  • 6 slices ginger
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 3 litres water


  1. Boil a big pot of water with 3 ginger slices and the spring onion
  2. Add the fish maw and simmer till they are soft
  3. Remove the fish maw, drain the water and cut them into short thin strips
  4. Soak the bamboo fungus and conpoy until soft and rehydrated
  5. Keep the water used to soak the conpoys to flavour the soup
  6. Cut the bamboo fungus into short thin strips and shred the conpoys
  7. Parboil the chicken thigh for about 10 minutes. Rinse off
  8. Bring the 3 litres of water to a boil in a big soup pot
  9. Add the chicken thigh, bacon and shredded conpoy
  10. Strain the conpoy soaking water and add that to the soup
  11. Simmer the soup for about 1 hour
  12. Remove the chicken thigh, shred the chicken meat and add it back to the soup
  13. Bring the pot back to a boil. Add the fish maw, bamboo fungus and shaoxing wine
  14. Make a cornstarch mixture like adding 3 tbsp of cornstarch to a small bowl of water
  15. Pour the mixture in the soup, stir gently to thicken it
  16. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving
  17. Drizzle a little dark vinegar if you like it

Recipe 3: Stuffed fish maw soup recipe

This is a Hakka cuisine. Stuffing the fish maw with minced meat


  • 300g minced pork
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 litres of chicken stock
  • 150g napa cabbage
  • 2 pieces of fried fish maw
  • 8 prawn balls
  • 8 fish balls
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • Chopped coriander and fried garlic as garnish


  1. Soak and wash the napa cabbage thoroughly. Cut into bite-sized pieces
  2. Cut the fish maw into 3 cm rings. Soak in water for another 20 minutes or when the fish maw is soft. Rinse it thoroughly to get rid of some of the oil
  3. Mix the minced pork, sesame seed oil, soy sauce and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Mix it till there is some stickiness to the mixture
  4. Stuff the pork mixture into the fish maw rings
  5. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large soup pot
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Add the fish maw rings, prawn balls, fish balls, and napa cabbage
  8. Bring the soup to a boil and cook till the napa cabbage is soft but still green
  9. Serve and garnish with the chopped coriander and fried garlic

Happy Souping, Phoebe