This is truly a sensational broth. The fish flavour is indiscernable but the consistency is extremely thick or almost gelatinous. It's like as if everything concentrated is being carefully held for the delicious introduction to our taste buds.

The gelling/thickening agent comes from the fish maw or the fish swim bladder. These are preserved by deep frying and then drying prior to packaging. Typically available in cellophane bags looking a little like puffed pork skin but a much lighter colour. Fish-maw or, in Thai, grapraow pla is a commonly available ingredient and is also used extensively in other Asian cuisines. Some recipes add vinegar into the mix instead of a condiment to be added by the diner and there is some resemblance to the classical Chinese Hot & Sour Soup. Worth your while exploring!

  • 960 ml (4 cups) water
  • 1 whole chicken breast, about 450 gm (1 lb)
  • 225 gm (8 oz) dried fish belly/fish maw (grapraow pla), soaked in hot water until soft
  • 120 ml (⅓ cup) light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
  • 120 ml (½ cup) bamboo shoot strips
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 4 small hard-boiled eggs, shelled and, if desired, sliced (Quail eggs are the traditional)
  • ~60 ml (¼ cup) cilantro/coriander, chopped
  1. Heat the water to boiling in a large saucepan and simmer the chicken breast for about 10 to 15 minutes or until done. Reserve the chicken stock. Place the cooked chicken breast in cold water to cool. Remove the meat from the bone and discard the skin. Shred the meat and set aside. Wings and giblets maybe added to the pot.
  2. Drain the dried fish maw, squeeze out any excess water and cut into 1 inch pieces. Heat the chicken stock to boiling, add the dried fish maw and all the remaining ingredients except the eggs and the cilantro/coriander. Stir in the shredded chicken and cook until hot. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with egg and cilantro.