A. FISH MAW
Fish maw is the air bladder of the fish. 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.
There are many grades of fish maw. Some can cost a few hundred RM for just one servings. These are the ones which are supposed to have medicinal properties and are purported to cure coughs and ailments related to the lungs. The one I showed above is probably the better quality but not the premium ones.
Dried mushroom too comes in many grades. There are those from Japan, like shown above and those from China which is blacker. The Japanese ones have ‘flowers’ on the top. It is thicker, meatier but it doesn’t have the fragrance like those from China. Whereas, those from China are thinner but have better fragrance. When buying dried mushroom, try to take a sniff of the mushroom if possible because some grades just smell horrible, like wet laundry! Try looking for those firm/hard, dry and thicker ones.
The more expensive ones are best used for stewing and double boiling. For general cooking, one can use the cheaper version.