The picture above shows what appear to be three very different things but, in fact, they are just different forms of a product used in Chinese and South-East Asian cookery, and commonly referred to as ‘Fish Maw’. The word maw actually means stomach, or gullet, and, as such, the term for this product is a bit of a misnomer as it is really the ‘Swim bladder’ of certain bony (non-cartilaginous) species of fish. The swim bladder, is a gas filled sac that lies in the belly and allows the fish that possess them to maintain and control buoyancy at different depths.
As with a number of products in Chinese cookery, this item is used primarily for its texture. Some sources state bluntly that it has no taste of its own but, like tofu, takes on the flavors of other ingredients in a dish. In fact, it does have a certain, mild, ‘fishiness’, but it is still the texture that is important. It is rich in collagen, which not only gives a pleasant texture itself, but the collagen will dissolve into soups and braising liquids to lend added richness.
Several species are harvested for their bladders (Yellow Croaker is a favored type), but I do not know what from what fish any of the ones you see picture were taken… the packages I have, all written exclusively in Chinese characters, are silent on that point… In any event, the two basic forms are the plain dried article (the yellowish things at the bottom right of the picture), and the sort that consists of the same thing that has been deep-fried before being packaged for sale… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Fish Maw – 魚肚 (or 魚漂 or 花膠)”
Almost five years ago now, I posted a recipe for a Prawn Curry that was my take on a dish I first ate as a small child. That dish, mostly Indian in character, incorporated Belacan to enhance the rich prawn flavour and used tomato to make a thick sauce. Today, I am using some lovely giant prawns to make something similar, except that I am using Filipino Bagoong instead of the fermented dried shrimp paste, and producing a result that is less a ‘curry’ than a spicy, stir-fried dish… [ Continue reading “Spicy Bagoong Prawns”
Today’s recipe is something of an experiment and you may want to read the notes carefully. The Chinese classic ‘Dong Po Pork’ is one of my all-time favourite dishes in Asian cuisine but, as unctuous and decadent as it is, it tends to contain a lot of sugar, which is something I try to avoid these days. Accordingly, I wanted to try something along the same lines but not so diabetic unfriendly. It is still basically pork-belly red-cooked in soy, but I have played around with the flavourings and needed to make an adjustment or two to the technique… Continue reading “Spiced-Soy Pork”
I’m really not sure how to classify today’s dish… It draws heavily on the Rendang style of curry in that the main ingredients are cooked in coconut milk which is reduced to form a very thick sauce but beyond that, it has a little bit of India and other parts of east and south-east Asia. The name, admittedly, is not very inspired, but it turned out nicely… Continue reading “Pan-Asian Lamb”
158 East Pender Street, Vancouver
Date of Visit: July, 2017
I was first tempted by Sai Woo because of their interesting menu. It is clearly Asian inspired, and features some traditional fare such as Cantonese Dried Shrimp Fried Rice, but the majority of the dishes are fusions of ingredients and techniques from both east and west. The place has had some good reviews but, after my visit, I was left a little underwhelmed… Continue reading “Review: Sai Woo – Vancouver”
Years ago, I was intending to make Plum Sauce, but ended up using cantaloupe as there were no decent plums available at the time. In fact, other fruits are often substituted for the plums in commercial versions of the sauce and, ‘VH’ , the brand with which I am most familiar, while containing some plums, actually lists pumpkin as the primary fruit ingredient.
Last week, when the urge to whip up a batch came over me again, I could have chosen plums, if I wanted, as there were some nice ones available but, instead, I opted for cantaloupe again. The end result is every bit as good as using the traditional plum (hard to tell apart, in fact), and it is a good deal simpler to slice and dice a single melon than it is to peel and destone a crap-load of individual plums… Continue reading “Home-made Cantaloupe Sauce”
Way back last summer, I found myself the only guest at the Tujormovik Hotel in Igloolik and, on the weekend, I ended up cooking for myself. I had some chicken pieces but, lacking a wire rack to bake them on, I improvised using celery stalks I found in the fridge. I only meant to use the celery to keep the pieces from sticking to the pan but, as it happened, the result of the stalks baking in the chicken juices was delicious and I made a note to experiment with the idea in the future.
Yesterday, I finally got around to playing around with the basic theme again, this time using chicken drumettes, which are the end part of the wing that looks like a little leg. Instead of using whole celery stalks, I cut the celery into short batons and spread them over the bottom of a baking dish. I was aiming for a vaguely Asian end result here and to keep the celery moist an add a little flavor, I sprinkled these with a tablespoon or two of dry sherry (having no rice wine at the time). Next, I tossed the drumettes with a little salt, garlic puree and Hoisin Sauce, and arranged them in a circle on top of the celery and sprinkled everything with just a little finely diced red pepper. This last step was more for appearance than anything else but you could easily substitute fresh red chili for an additional flavor boost.
Anyway, I baked the dish in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes and the result was delicious. I ate every piece of chicken and every bit of celery all by myself with just a little bread to mop up the juice. Once again, the celery baked in chicken juices really turned out nicely. I think a little more could be done to make the final dish a little more visually appealing, maybe, but the idea is worth working with and you could easily adapt the general idea with a whole host of other flavorings…
Sometime ago, I came across a Balinese recipe employing the technique of cooking chicken in a spiced Coconut Water broth before frying it. I haven’t tried to reproduce the spice blend (which I can’t recall in any event) but I have selected what seems to be an appropriate mix for today’s dish. Naturally, if you try the same technique yourselves you can play around with the flavorings as much as you like… Continue reading “Recipe: Balinese Chicken”
The inspiration for this dish originally came from a Vietnamese recipe I came across for a salad of pork and shrimp. Aside from replacing the pork with thin slices of Japanese Tataki Style Beef, I ended up changing the heavily acidic, lime juice based dressing to something quite different. Accordingly, I ultimately strayed so far from the original production that the resemblance is purely coincidental, as they say. It really can no longer be called a Vietnamese dish, exactly, but it is certainly Asian in spirit… Continue reading “Minted Tataki Beef with Shrimp”
This particular dish is Asian in spirit but doesn’t belong to any specific cuisine. It calls for the long, slender types of eggplant common to Japanese, or south-east Asian kitchens rather than the fatter, deep purple eggplants more familiar in the west. It could easily be served as a side dish as part of a more complex meal, or eaten alone as a snack or even a simple breakfast… Continue reading “Eggs with Eggplant and Basil”