Rearranging books on my shelf to make room for another, I pulled out a small, red, hardcover book called The Fine Art of Chinese Cooking, by Lee Su Jan. It was published in 1962, or that’s what I’m guessing from the MCMLXII stamp near the copyright symbol.
Flipping through the book, I stopped on page 154. Fish Lips.
The ingredient list calls for 1/2 pound of treated fish lips. The first line under method says: soak fish lips for seven days, changing water daily.
Now, where does one get fish lips? What kind of fish have lips luscious enough for stewing?
The recipe also calls for chicken breasts and ham, part of the stewing mixture, but before the dish is served, the chicken and ham are discarded. Fascinating.
A bit of research tells me that groupers have fleshy lips, and are dried for preserving, hence the need for soaking for seven days to rehydrate. I also stumbled upon a recipe for fish maw. Maw is another word for bladder. I put the book back on the shelf.