Braised Fish Maw with Mushrooms
Chinese New Year is around the corner! Come February 8 2016, Chinese communities all around the world will be celebrating the coming of the brand spanking new Year of the Monkey, with well wishes and wonderfully delicious food flooding noisy households. This braised fish maw and mushrooms recipe is a dish that my mother never fails to whip up every CNY. About a month before Chinese New Year, local supermarkets will start pushing out traditional "Chinese New Year ingredients" such as Black Moss ("Faat Choy/發菜"), Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Fish Maw, Dried Mushrooms, Arrowhead ("qi gu/刺菇"), Rice Cake ("nian gao/年糕") etc. All of which are considered delicacies that are only eaten during Chinese New Year as a celebratory treat.
My mum and I absolutely LOVE fish maw, the texture of it is very similar to a sponge and as such it is able to absorb any broth or sauce that it is cooked in perfectly. With every bite that you take of the fish maw, amazing flavours just BURST out of it onto your palate, it is truly delicious. The next best thing about this amazing dish is that is it oh-so-simple to make - braising is really a wonderful way to get the most flavour out of simple ingredients with minimum effort. The toughest thing about this braised fish maw with mushrooms recipe is the waiting time, it takes about 45 minutes for the dish to be cooked to perfection but it is totally worth every second!
The protein used in this recipe is pork leg meat that has a substantial amount of lean meat but also a generous amount of fat and a thick layer of skin on top. Pork skin is loaded with collagen which is all the rage here in Asia because of its effectiveness in fighting the effects of ageing. Coincidentally, fish maw is also packed with collagen and when cooked together, the pork leg meat and fish maw contributes to the sticky, thick sauce that you get in this dish. The mushrooms that my mum uses in this recipe are the dried ones, and she actually insists on using the dried ones every time because according to her, dried mushrooms are more flavourful. While doing some research into dried mushrooms vs fresh mushrooms, I found this page - "The Bold Flavors of Dried Mushrooms" that encapsulates everything that my mum has said over the many years about dried mushrooms, do give it a read.
Well, here is it, my mum's recipe for a Chinese New Year favourite - Braised Fish Maw with Mushrooms. I really hope you will enjoy it as much as I have over the many years of eating it.