It’s been really cold and rainy lately in Southern California so it was a perfect time to make some comforting Vietnamese asparagus and crab soup (sup mang cua). Luckily for us, it’s dungeness crab season and even luckier because Krissy and Daniel from The Food Addicts (a great blog!) joined us to make it. The dungeness crabs were only $3/lb so we dry baked and broke down several crabs for some sweet and moist crab meat.
Asparagus was introduced to Vietnam by the French and since the shoots resemble bamboo shoots (mang), Vietnamese call asparagus “mang tay” or western bamboo. Most of the time the “tay” is drop from the name of the soup. Sup mang cua has a slightly thick, silky texture and combines the sweet and succulent flavors of crab and beautiful white asparagus. Most Vietnamese soups (canh) are designed to be eaten with rice as part of a meal but this soup is typically serve as a first course in wedding dinner banquets or celebrations and is great on it’s own because it’s pretty hearty with all the fixings in it. In addition to the crab and asparagus other common ingredients include sliced young bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms, straw mushrooms, corn, shark fin, and quail eggs.
Sup Mang Cua – Vietnamese Asparagus and Crab Soup
- 12 cups of chicken stock or pork broth (see recipe below)
- 1 16 oz can of white asparagus (cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces on the diagonal)
- 1.5 lb of crab meat (cooked–fresh or frozen/canned)
- 12 boiled quail eggs or can of cooked quail eggs
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 1 ts salt
- 1 cup of cold water and 3 tablespoons of tapioca starch or corn starch
- chopped green onion and cilantro
- white pepper
Boil quail eggs for about 8-10 minutes and set aside to cool in water bath. Peel the quail eggs under running water, starting with the fat end. Unlike chicken eggs, you have to be more gentle and be careful not to break these delicate eggs.
In another separate bowl, lightly beaten the eggs and set aside.
Bring the broth to boil and add the crab meat, asparagus, quail eggs in the broth. Using a ladle, swirl the soup in a circular pattern and slowly add the beaten egg into the soup–turn the heat down to low heat.
In a separate bowl, dissolve 3 tablespoons of corn starch in 1 cup of water.
Now add the thickening mixture a tablespoon at a time allowing a few minutes in between to allow the soup to thicken. Some like it really thick and others just slightly, so start with a few tablespoons and go from there. If you over thicken, you can always add more stock. Finally season to taste fish sauce, salt, and pinch of sugar.
Serve with chopped green onion/cilantro and fresh ground pepper.
4 pounds of pork spareribs
12 cups of water
This is just a rough generic recipe for all of our pork based soups on the site. In a large pot, put pork spareribs with water and bring to boil then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for about 1.5 hours. Skim off the scum of fat while simmering. Bones can be discarded and the pot of broth can be left to cool. Remove excess hardened fat from the top surface.
If you opt for the shortcut chicken broth method, this soup can be made in less than half an hour. During the cold and wet afternoon–we enjoyed the sup mang cua with warm conversation and good company of The Food Addicts. This is what food and cooking is all about.