Asparagus & Crab Soup
This is another classic Vietnamese recipe and personal favorite. It, like the sticky rice pudding with black-eyed peas, is a staple at most Vietnamese celebrations, anything from baby showers to birthday parties to weddings. In fact, it’s actually quite infrequent that you would eat this when you’re not at a some kind of party or restaurant. I grew up eating this at every single Vietnamese wedding I went to as a child so needless to say, it has a special place in my heart.
This soup is basically a Vietnamese version of the ever popular and ubiquitous egg-drop soup, except with asparagus and crab, of course. I did some research and according to a few sources, asparagus was introduced to Vietnam via the French. Asparagus in Vietnamese is măng tây which translates to western (tây) bamboo (măng).
The crab meat makes this soup a very savory one, accented nicely with the unique taste of asparagus. The salty sweetness from the crab pairs well with the mellowed soup base flavors while the eggs add a rich heartiness to the overall dish. The thick consistency coats your tongue for just long enough to blend all the delicate flavors into a completely satisfying sip of soup.
Asparagus & Crab Soup (Súp Măng Cua)
5 cups of chicken stocks (or 5 cups of water & 4 bouillon cubes)
1/2 lb. asparagus, chopped into 1/2 inch lengths
8 oz. lump crab meat
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Salt & pepper, to taste
1. Bring either chicken stock or soup base to a boil, add asparagus and simmer until tender.
2. Add crab meat and simmer five minutes. Dilute cornstarch in a small bowl with cold water and add to soup to thicken. Add more cornstarch for a thicker consistency.
3. Break eggs into a small bowl and gently break the yolks and mix. While heavily swirling the soup, slowly stream in the eggs. Do not add all at once or you will end up with hard-boiled eggs!
4. Season with fish sauce, salt and pepper. Serve hot with some freshly cracked pepper on top.
I’ve made this recipe with just crab claw meat (because it’s a little bit cheaper) and it tastes just as good. Imitation crab meat can be used as well. Some recipes also call for baby corn but as I’m not a fan, I omitted it.
I’ve also used canned white asparagus as well (when it’s not asparagus season) which makes the recipe a little bit closer to what you might find at the restaurants. It was a little bit difficult to work with the delicate canned white asparagus sprigs but substituting fresh ones would be interesting!
A sprinkling of thinly sliced scallions and cilantro on top would be delicious as well! This recipe is so easy, it’s hard to mess up and fun to play around with to your preferences.