Why do Chinese enterprises import a large number of fish maws every year?

Update: 12/24/2012

Fish Maw is an internal gas-filled organ found in most fish. It is commonly used in Chinese cooking and in Chinese soups and some consider fish maw to be a luxury item.  When cooked, fish maw takes on the flavour of the surrounding ingredients. It is an excellent source of collagen, when purchased dried, it comes as a hard, solid, hollow, translucent tube and must be soaked to soften before use. When it is cooked, it has a soft, slippery texture.

There are various benefits in fish maw consumption; being an excellent source of collagen. Many Chinese people believe that drinking fish maw soup and eating fish maw will improve their skin and, for pregnant women, the skin of their infant/children. Salso believe fish maw can help with fertility and will drink and eat fish maw when attempting to become pregnant. Hence, it is also thought to help with blood circulation.
Fish maw is also called swim bladder that is found in all fish except sharks and rays. The maw in itself is a texture ingredient only, and is used with other strongly flavoured ingredients to make it interesting. It usually requires only a couple of minutes cooking to absorb the flavours in the pot. 
In Cantonese culinary, abalone, sea cucumber,shark fin, and fish stomach are considered the top four gourmet items from the sea. The fish stomach referenced here is the fish maw.  Its main function is to receive and expel huge qualities of water and/or oxygen so that fish can ascend and descend in the water. This makes the bladder very strong and elastic. Fish maw is mostly used in the preparation of thick soup. It is effective in relieving coughs and beneficial for the general health.


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