This recipe is in no way as remotely as good as my mom's, but it'll do in a jiffy. Make a big pot. I can (And have!) happily eat three big bowls of this and call it a meal.
Sup Mang Tay Cua (Vietnamese Asparagus and Crab Soup)
For a 5-quart stock pot, you'll need:
Canh (Vietnamese soup broth), preferably made with chicken but pork will work too. You can even use canned chicken stock if you must but the broth won't be as clear.
1/2 to 1 lb of fresh lump crab meat if you have it, canned or imitation crab if that's all you can afford
1 small bunch of fresh asparagus, or canned white asparagus, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
1 can baby corn, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
2 or 3 eggs
1 or 2 tblsp corn starch, dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
Optional: ground white pepper to sprinkle on top.
Normally the mang tay (Vietnamese asparagus), literally "Western bamboo," used for this soup would be white asparagus spears, most likely canned as fresh asparagus was rather rare to come by in Vietnam. But as it's asparagus season, I see no reason to resort to canned. You can use either white or fresh asparagus for this recipe.
I also like to add in some baby corn. You can also add in thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms if you wish. Don't add too many ingredients or the delicacy of the crab and asparagus will be overshadowed.
Wash asparagus and remove hard bottoms. Just keep snapping them until you get near the end and if it's too hard to snap, then it'll be too tough to chew. You can toss the rest, or be frugal and peel the hard outer layer and use the rest. Ideally, you want thinner stalks of asparagus for this recipe. Drain and wash baby corn. Cut corn and asparagus into 1- to 2-inch chunks. You want the pieces to be bite-sized.
Add the corn and asparagus to your pot of soup. Turn the heat on to high and warm up your canh. At this point, if you'd like a slightly thicker soup, dissolve 1 or 2 tblsp of cornstarch to 1/2 cup of cold water. Add the mixture to the pot so it can thicken the soup.
In a separate bowl, break 2 or 3 eggs, depending on how many egg drops you want in your soup. I like a lot so I used 3 eggs for this recipe. Pierce the yolks with a fork and lightly scramble but do not beat eggs. Set aside.
Have your crab ready as well. Ideally, use fresh crab, but that's pretty pricey. I used 1 can of crab meat for this recipe. You may also use imitation crab, just make sure to roughly shred it into smaller pieces. When your soup pot starts boiling, add in the crab and start stirring the ingredients.
Really stirring. Slowly pour the bowl of scrambled eggs into the pot, continuing to stir as the eggs stream in. When the eggs are all in, turn the heat down to medium to simmer.
You have just made egg drop soup. See how the eggs are in long rivulets? You don't want to beat the eggs or else once added, they disintegrate. You do need to pierce the yolk, however, or you'll end up with hard-boiled egg yolks. Once, my friend said the yolks didn't need to be pierced and will become egg drops on their own. So we tried it and ended up with hard-boiled yolks. :P
Taste and add salt or fish sauce if necessary. Taste the asparagus and corn to see if they have by now softened enough to your liking. I don't like my vegetables mushy and the heating up time to boiling and the making of the egg drop is usually enough simmer time for me. That's up to you. Serve with ground white pepper.
And a final look at my pretty egg drops.
Who else made sup mang tay cua? Chuck of Sunday Nite Dinner added a charred onion to his homemade chicken stock.
And since this post is all about the asparagus, my other asparagus recipe:
I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks celebrating the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient. This month's secret ingredient is ASPARAGUS. Click to see the complete asparagus round-up. The host this month is Wandering Chopsticks. If you'd like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month.
*****15 Seconds of Fame: "...deliciously recorded and photographed...highlight Vietnamese cuisine at its best...her collection of diverse recipes, mouthwatering photographs, beautiful garden highlights and informative posts about Vietnamese history gives readers a wonderful perspective into Vietnamese culture and food traditions," says Diane Duyen Cu in "Have Computer, Will Write," Nguoi-Viet 2, May 29, 2008.
1 year ago today, lil' sis and I accidentally discovered potstickers, spicy wontons, and green onion pancakes at Mandarin Noodle Deli - Temple City.