Headline »

December 24, 2020 – 1:14 pm | 3,858 views

Soup Name:  Basic Chinese Chicken Soup Stock (Soup Base)

Traditional Chinese Name: 清雞湯 (qīng jī tāng)

Introduction: This is the base Chinese Chicken Soup stock that …

Read the full story »
Soups for Children

Soups that are designed and suitable for children of all ages.

Spring Soups

Soups designed to remove humidity and cleanse the body of toxins.

Summer Soups

Summer soups that help relieve heatiness, cool the body and provide additional internal moisture for those extra hot days.

Fall Soups

Soups that have have the balance of removing heatiness and are slightly warming. These soups are good transition soups into winter.

Winter Soups

Soups designed to be consumed in the dry and cold winter months where the body needs replenishment of moisture and warmth.

Home » Fish, Seafood

Fish Maw (dried)

Submitted by on July 16, 2009 – 2:23 pm31 Comments | 156,043 views

Ingredient Name: Fish Maw, Gas Bladder, Air Bladder, Swim Bladder

Traditional Chinese Name: 魚鰾 (yú biào) or 花膠 (fa gao)

What is this?
  • This is an internal gas-filled organ or swim bladder found in most fish
  • It is commonly used in chinese cooking and in chinese soups and some consider fish maw to be a luxury item (although the prices vary significantly depending on size, shape, thickness, and type of fish it came from)
  • When cooked, fish maw takes on the flavour of the surrounding ingredients
  • It is an excellent source of collagen
  • When purchased dried, it comes as a hard, solid, hollow, translucent tube (as shown above) and must be soaked to soften before use
  • When cooked, it has a soft, slippery texture
  • In general, fish maw has about 25% protein and 75% carbohydrate

How do I prepare it?

Where can I buy this?

  • You can find dried fish maw in most asian supermarkets and in asian herb shops
  • Although some people prefer lighter-coloured fish maw, the colour has no bearing on the quality of the product

What is the cost?

  • Fish maw prices vary widely depending on the size and type of fish
  • At a recent herbal shop in Hong Kong (timing at April 2018), prices ranged from $500 HKD per catty to $5000 HKD per catty.  The prices of fish maw have progressively been increasing over time.
  • You can find much more affordable fish maw in Canada, where 1-2 pieces can cost $10-$15 CAD.

Any benefits?

  • Fish maw is an excellent source of collagen
  • 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
  • Some also believe fish maw can help with fertility and will drink and eat fish maw when attempting to become pregnant
  • It is also thought to help with blood circulation
  • Fish maw has no fat

Any precautions?

  • None that I can think of except to ensure it is fully soft before eating (otherwise it can hurt to swallow!)



  • Jo says:

    Hi, I just bought fish maw in HK dry food shop. However, now I have a problem. I did some research online and found out that there are two types of fish maw: deep fried and non deep fried; and that non deep-fried should be deep fried at home before cooking. It seems to me that mine is not deep fried. It looks similar to the one at your photo. If I want to make chinese soup, shall I deep fry it first?

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Jo,
    You don’t need to deep fry it first. For soups, soak in warm water for about 24 hours to soften it and then you can also scrub wash it if you want it “cleaner” because it’s easier to clean when it’s soft. My mother actually cuts it into little slices (vertical against the elongated maw) for easier consumption and disintegration. Then just add it to your boiling water of the soup. I would recommend to boil it (or have it heated) for quite some time for it to soften. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • Jo says:

    Thanks LadyTong. Your answer calmed me down 🙂

  • leong lai yoke says:

    Is fish maw a high protein food?

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Leong Lai Yoke, it’s protein content is about a quarter, while the other three quarters is carbohydrates. I wouldn’t say it’s a high protein food. But it does have 0% fat! Lisa

  • niyaz bawa says:

    HI lisa’

    i just wan know’ to buy fish mow do v need to know which fish mow is it….or is all fish mow is same price..coz i know prices of fish go up depending on fish…an y is it dried?? cant v cook it frozen???? take care…:)

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Niyaz,

    Fish maw does vary in price – larger pieces more expensive. It doesn’t vary so much I think with supply of fish immediately, but I know it’s not cheap like dates! I wouldn’t ‘recommend cooking it frozen. You need time to soak it to make it soft. I haven’t tried just throwing frozen fish maw into a soup, but you can try it and let me know how it goes!! Hope this helps, Lisa

  • jas says:

    hi there is a type of fish maw sold, that is not fried and is sold in cubes or chips form? the med hall lady claimed its the purest form of fish maw. is it true?

  • zafar says:

    I would be highly obliged if you can tell me if all fish maw bladders have same characteristics. catfish all are used for eating purpose mainly, people say catfish fishmaw is used for beer making.
    I am interested for fishmaw recipe for INdia food.
    Thank you

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear zafar, most fish maw bladders do have the same characteristics, however some are probably better than others. The Chinese actually use them in dishes, soups and it is known as a semi delicacy in this cuisine. You can try to slice them up for Indian food, however that would be a first for me 🙂 Fish bladders have a very slippery, rubbery texture, so they don’t always pair with everything and truth to be told, is tasteless. They absorb the flavors of whatever sauce or ingredients they are cooked in. G’luck! Lisa

  • Txl says:

    Hi, I would like to buy fish maw.. Anyone can recommend me to buy genuine and cheaper ones ??
    Thank you / Txl

  • chua2540@yahoo.com says:

    Anyone have recipe of non fried fish maw stew and would like to share.

  • Kadotgasan says:

    how to process the fish maws from raw materials?
    could you explain the process?

  • joe stave says:

    hi,ni hao, can i add to chinese tonics? fish maw that is.

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Joe, yes you can. Fish maw don’t have taste naturally and absorb the taste of whatever soup, tonic, tea you have. Although I would highly recommend fish maw on a salty palate more than a sweet one. Hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions! Lisa

  • Ssenie Alex says:

    Can one supply fish maw in China? If yes how? Alex from Uganda, Africa. I can get fish maws in big qauntities. Thanks

  • Carl van der says:

    Hi Lady Tong

    I am based in Cape Town and have 2 Tons of high quality frozen fish Maw for sale every month, which I wish to offer out to a buyer who is honourable and professional. I have a permit to supply for 2 years, but I simply cannot find a potential buyer to whom I can make an offer.
    Please give me some advice!

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Carl, I’m sorry, but this site is merely for informational purposes. You should try using alibaba or other trading sites to reach out to a more focused and broad community. Lisa

  • Sami says:

    i am supplier of dried fish maw from Vietnam. If you are interested in it, please feel free to contact me via email sales08@sovimexco.com

    Many Thanks

  • Tony says:

    Hi CSL,

    I stumbled across your interesting site and found it very interesting and full of good ideas.

    I have a favor to ask however. I know that this is not a networking site and that you do not encourage information exchanges to encourage trade, but I am going to plead with you to make just ONE exception.

    I have being trying to connect with Maw traders in South Africa for a long time nowand I noticed Carl’s email asking for buyers for export.

    I deal in large imports of MAW to Asia and would love to connect with him..please, pretty please..can u give him my email and tell him I’m interested in connecting?

    I will be forever grateful..Thanks in advance.

    Kind regards,

    Tony Roberts.

  • ODENG DAVID says:

    connect me to fish maw buyers, i can supply 50 kgs every month of nile patch fish maw.

  • Jen says:

    Hi I a new in cooking fish maw ….Nil experience. I bought some non-fried fish maw recently and soaked for like 36 hours in room temperature. The water smelled very strong – can the fish maw still be consumed? I changed the water a few times tho’.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Jen, that process should be OK, but you’re right that the fish maw itself is a very fishy business. As soon as it’s fishy, change the water. Some people will also pre-boil it first. So that means, before you use it in soup, blanch it in boiling water for about 5 minutes (like you do with any of the soup bones). This will help remove some of the fishiness. How did it turn out in the end? Lisa

  • Mandy says:

    Do you know of any concerns of fish maw and mercury level?

  • Ho Sow Leng says:

    My sister gave me some raw fish maw they are thicker then the pic shown tried 1 piece soak, boil and cook. But it turns out like glue where is my mistake.

  • kenny lock says:

    Ho sow leng. Fish maw need to be clean and put to sun dry for a few days until u see them trasparent. When u want to cook them u need to deep fry them until puffy

  • kf says:

    Dear LadyTong,
    I think fish maw refers to ‘fa gao’, i.e. fish bladder (this the expensive one) and NOT ‘yu piew’ which is the air bladder (this is usually sold as fried). Fa gao is never fried and is quite slimy after cooking. Yu piew is usually fried and is quite spongy when cooked in soup. Correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.

  • MATHEW L says:

    Hi, sharing on how my mom or rather her hokkein chinese heritage cook this. It is always the fried form used and when soaked before cooking it becomes almost sponge like.beautiful golden “sponge”.This is cooked usually during the lunar new year as soup dish. One of my favorite soul dish.will share picture in a couple of weeks.

  • LadyTong says:

    Thanks, Mathew! Sharing would be awesome! Is it usually a thicker soup dish? Lisa

  • Oscar owino says:

    Hi my name is Oscar from Kenya,I have dried fish mass from Nile perch if interested please send me an email I will organise for the shipment please give your offer depending upon the size and your quotation

  • Oscar owino says:

    Hi my name is Oscar from Kenya,I have fish maw from Nile perch ready and willing to send you place offers they are a total of 70kgs feel free to contact me via email oscar2000oduor@yahoo.com I plan for the shipment

7 Pingbacks »

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also Comments Feed via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.