Fish maw for your skin

Feb 10, 2021

Put Fish Maw in your Steamboat for your Skin


What is Fish maw?

Fish maw is the dried swim bladders that come from a large fish like Croaker or Sturgeon. The fish swim bladder is an unique organ of a fish which enables the fish to maintain buoyancy at their current water depth in the ocean. In Asian culture, it is considered to be one of the top four delicacies of the sea (abalone, sea cucumber, shark fin, and fish maw). In appearance, dried fish maw is light, yellowish in colour and has a spongy texture. Fish maw is either sun-dried, or dried and then deep fried.  Fish maw quality and prices varies depending on the type of fish it comes from. The most expensive fish maw comes from the Black-spotted Croaker or Sturgeon fish, which are large fishes and expensive hence the fish maw from these fishes are more pricey. Depending on the fish, the fish maw can be large or small and varies in the price. It has been shown that the fish maw from the Black-spotted Croaker contains higher amounts of essential amino acids compared to the Nile Perch Fish.

How to choose fish maw?

A good quality fish maw should be thick yet looks translucent when light shines thru and does not disintegrate into nothing while cooking, it should be soft and slippery. Fish maw from males can withstand long boiling times better while females become soft and and gelatinous much quicker. Dried fish maw is healthier than the deep fried kind and better for cooking nourishing soups. Deep fried fish maw is easy to reconstitute, absorbs sauce easily and gives a spongy texture to dishes.

Dried fish maw with rock sugar

Pic. 1 Dried Fish Maw with Rock Sugar

Fish maw is a good source of collagen, proteins, and trace elements such as calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and selenium. It contains up to 84.4% of protein and only 0.2% of fat. It is a good source of Collagen provides a wide variety of skin benefits, such as helping to improve your skin tone, tissue health & maintaining radiant skin. The collagen effect can be felt on the skin of both genders. It even works on the skin of babies when taken by pregnant women. It improves blood circulation in the body, helping to maintain radiant skin all year round.

In TCM, Fish maw is sweet and neutral, nourishes lungs, kidney and blood, nourishes Yin, essence, veins. It’s great especially for post-partum women, to strengthen the body and can be taken regularly. Any food that nourishes the lungs and blood generally have a good effect on our skin as these organs are related and the blood nourishes our skin with nutrition and improved blood circulation means more hydration and improved metabolism.

In terms of taste, dried fish maw is tasteless, which makes it a good complementary addition to many dishes since it can absorb the flavours of other ingredients it is cooked with. It is soft, chewy and gelatinous when cooked for a long time. 


Preparation of Fish Maw

Dried fish maw must first be rinsed and then soaked in a large bowl of water to soften the texture before use.  There should be enough water to allow room for the fish maw to expand. The period of soaking typically ranges from 6 to 12 hours or until it becomes softened.

Soaking dried fish maw in water overnight

Pic.2 Soaking the fish maw in water overnight

Afterward, squeeze out the water from the fish maw to rid it of any smell. Next, boil it together with some sliced ginger and green onions to get rid of the fishy smell for about 10 -15 mins.  Next, drain it and the fish maw can be cut into smaller pieces. Now it’s ready to be cooked or added to the soups or dishes of your choices.

Boil fish maw in water with ginger and spring onions

Pic.3 Boil the fish maw with ginger slices and spring onion

After being cooked, the fish maw will have a soft and slippery texture.

Fish maw is not suitable for those with poor appetite, dampness and phlegm in the stomach and it’s not recommended for young children below 8 years. Those with allergy to seafood should be cautious when taking fish maw.

You can cook fish maw in many ways, mainly in soups or in stir fried dishes. It is not so commonly cooked in desserts so I have found a simple and yummy way to enjoy fish maw as a dessert.

 Fish maw is usually cooked in soups and stews, and its added commonly to steamboat which is a favorite during Chinese New Year. Do remember to do the cleaning and preparation steps so your steamboat will not have any fishy smell/ taste. 


Fish maw double boiled in Milk (Serves 2)


  • Full Cream milk 500ml ( I feel that the low fat version doesn’t taste as nice)

  • Dried Fish Maw 50g

  • Red dates 4 pieces (seeds removed)

  • Rock Sugar 10g (adjust according to taste)

  • Goji berries 10 pieces

  • Ginger 2 slices

 Fish maw boiled in milk ingredients

fish maw in milk

Pic 4 & 5. Ingredients for fish maw boiled in milk


  • Soak the dried fish maw overnight and rinse it. If it smells fishy, boil it in water with some ginger and green onions for 10 mins before draining it and rinsing in cold water. Cut into smaller pieces.

  • Put the fish maw pieces into 2 small double boil containers. Add the milk, red dates and sliced ginger.

Ginger and red dates add milk & fish maw

Pic 6 & 7. Add ginger, red dates, milk and fish maw to bowl

  • Double boil/steam for 2 hours using low heat.

  • Add the rinsed Goji berries, add rock sugar to taste, boil for another 10-15 mins till rock sugar is dissolved.

  • Remove ginger slices and serve warm.

 Fish maw boiled in milk

Pic 8. Fragrance of the boiled milk with a hint of ginger with fish maw... Yums and hello smooth silky skin!!

Keeping our skin moisturized is also crucial for soft smooth silky skin. Our skin loses moisture throughout the day and this needs to be replenished through diet and also external hydration like applying a layer of moisturizing cream. This layer protects the skin and prevents loss of moisture thru the skin surface. When the skin barrier is strong and healthy, our body is also less sensitive to external irritants and immunity is strengthened. 

Read more about our Serenity Calming Repair Cream and how it can help to moisturize, calm and repair your dry and itchy skin back to its healthy state, especially great for sensitive or eczema-prone skin.