An incredibly flavorful soup, Asparagus and Crab Meat Soup is an exceptional blending of flavors. You will love every spoonful.

Asparagus and crab have been paired together for centuries, but in Vietnamese cuisine, it is a 20th Century innovation that has proven itself adaptable to local flavors and palates.

Asparagus and Crab Meat Soup (Mang Tay Nau Cua)
Recipe type: Soups and Stews
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 4 Cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 ounces lump crab meat, picked over and drained
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot, mixed with
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 15 ounces white asparagus spears *
  • 1 Tablespoon shredded coriander
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  1. Combine the broth, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, the sugar and salt in a 3 quart soup pot.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the shallots and garlic and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the crab meat, the remaining 2 teaspoons fish sauce and black pepper to taste.
  4. Stirfry over high heat for 1 minute. Set aside.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir gently until the soup thickens and is clear.
  6. While the soup is actively boiling, add the egg and stir gently. Continue to stir for about 1 minute.
  7. Add the crabmeat mixture and asparagus with its canning liquid; cook gently until heated through.
  8. Transfer the soup to a heated tureen.
  9. Sprinkle on the coriander, scallion and freshly ground black pepper.
* cut into 1-inch sections with canning liquid reserved

This soup was probably created by some homesick Frenchman. White asparagus (a French import), packed in jars or cans, is used for this recipe. Traditionally, crumbled, salted duck egg yolk is added to season the soup. If white asparagus is unavailable, use frozen or fresh asparagus (in this case, add the fresh asparagus to the broth from the very beginning and cook until tender, before adding the remaining ingredients).

From "The Foods of Vietnam" by Nicole Rauthier. Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

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