Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup (Sup Mang Cua)


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Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup (Súp Măng Cua)

Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup or Súp Măng Cua is a type of egg-drop soup. This soup is often served as an appetizer at weddings or anniversaries. The simplicity of the ingredients and their muted white color are the things that make the soup so elegant for these special occasions.

The banquet version at a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant typically contains white asparagus, egg whites, crab meat, and a sprinkle of ground white pepper for garnish, all the ingredients are completely white. But you don't need to be at a fancy restaurant to enjoy this soup. You can make it at home and add whatever you like. Plus, it’s a hearty and comforting dish for a cold winter day.

French Influence

Just like the baguette and Bánh Mì, asparagus was introduced to Vietnam by the French, as asparagus does not grow well in Vietnam’s humid climate. Asparagus shoots resemble bamboo shoots (Măng). To differentiate between the two, the Vietnamese call asparagus western bamboo or Măng Tây. For short, Tây is dropped from the name of the soup. Instead of Súp Măng Tây Cua, which directly translates to soup-asparagus-crab, it is commonly called Súp Măng Cua. Sometimes white asparagus is hard to find and omitted from the soup. In that case, the soup is simply called Súp Cua.

Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup (Súp Măng Cua)

Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup (Súp Măng Cua)

What You Will Need

Soup Base — The base of the broth can be made from vegetable, chicken, pork, and beef stock. It’s entirely up to you.

You can make this soup with my homemade pork stock and no extra seasoning is required.

I also like to use store-bought stock. My favorite store-bought brand is Jay One Korean Beef Bone Soup Broth, which comes perfectly seasoned. Whenever I use this brand, I would simply add just a bit more salt and MSG (oh yes, I said it!) just because of all the added extras that go into the soup.

Crab — I like to buy the small tub of crab meat in the refrigerator section at Costco. The crab meat has a great sweet taste and it saves a ton of time. Costco also has whole King Crab legs that you can break down yourself and use for this soup. If you use Costco King’s crab legs, keep in mind that they are incredibly salty. You may not need to season your broth with salt when using Costco’s King Crab Legs. For a cheaper alternative, use canned crab meat or imitation crab, which I actually love more than canned crab meat. If you can’t find crab meat, you can also substitute it with scallops, which you can also get at Costco.

I think I have a Costco problem.

Asparagus — White asparagus is typically used to keep the soup white. White asparagus is just green asparagus that hasn’t been allowed to turn green by sunlight. It is milder in flavor and a lot more tender. White asparagus is rarely available fresh and when it is, it costs twice as much. You can get canned white asparagus, which seems to be readily available. If you can’t find white asparagus, use green asparagus.

Eggs — Egg whites are whisked until frothy and then drizzled into the hot soup to make egg ribbons. This is the reason it is called an egg-drop soup. Typically only the whites are used, but again, if color isn’t an issue, use the whole egg. The yolk adds more flavor and richness to the soup.

Hardboiled Quail Eggs — Sometimes there are hardboiled quail eggs in the soup. It is not required but they are a welcome addition. My kids absolutely love hardboiled quail eggs so for me, they are an absolute must. You can get them fresh and hardboil them at home for the best possible flavor or buy the canned version. Canned quail eggs suck but they will do.

Tapioca Starch — To get the soup to thicken up, make a slurry out of tapioca starch and water. Make sure to mix the tapioca starch with room-temperature water separately from the pot. Once it is completely dissolved, add the mixture to the pot. Never, ever, ever add tapioca starch directly into a hot pot. It will clump together. Not good.

If you don’t have tapioca starch, substitute it with potato starch. Corn starch can also be used in a pinch.

Optional Garnishes — No soup can go naked. When ready to serve, add thinly sliced cilantro or green onions, a dash of ground white pepper, and a drizzle of sesame oil. Don’t have ground white pepper? Not a problem. Use ground black pepper.

Other Ingredients that you can use:

Mushroom — Shiitake (keep in mind that these can darken the broth slightly), straw, or enoki mushrooms.

White or Snow Fungus — Similar in taste and texture to black fungus, also known as wood ear mushroom, but white in color. Provides a great crunch. This is my go-to when I don’t use white asparagus.

Carrots — I love to use frozen cubed carrots. Works great!

Corn — Great addition especially when sweet corn is in season.

Complete the Feast

Serve this soup with these other accompanying celebratory dishes:

Sugar Cane Skewered Shrimp (Chạo Tôm)
Salt & Pepper Crab (Cua Rang Muối)
Salt & Pepper Prawns (Tôm Rang Muối)
Mung Bean Pudding (Chè Hoa Cau)

Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup (Súp Măng Cua)Yield 5Author Vicky PhamPrep time5 MinCook time15 MinTotal time20 Min

Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup (Súp Măng Cua)

A type of egg-drop soup that is often served as an appetizer at weddings or anniversaries. The simplicity of the ingredients and their muted white color are the things that make the soup so elegant for these special occasions. But you don't need to be at a fancy restaurant. You can make it at home. Plus, it’s a hearty and comforting dish for a cold winter day.

Ingredients

Broth
Slurry
Garnishes

Instructions

  1. Prep the ingredient: If using white fungus, soak the whole flower in hot water for 10 minutes. Once soften, remove the rough middle section, give it a good rinse a couple of times then chop it up finely and set aside. Wash the asparagus and remove any rough ends. Thinly slice it into concentric circles then set aside.
  2. In a medium stock pot, heat up your choice of stock. Once it comes to a boil, add cooked crab meat, breaking it to thin strips with your fingers. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Season soup to taste with a bit of salt and MSG, if needed. Keep in mind that store-bought stock and some crab meat may already be salty so you may not need to season as much or at all. It's best to taste-test. If making this with my homemade pork stock, no need for extra seasoning. When making this with my favorite store-bought Korean beef bone soup broth (Jay One brand), which comes slightly seasoned, I use two bags of the stock (17.6 oz each) and add 1 teaspoon sea salt and ½ teaspoon MSG.
  4. Add hardboiled quail eggs. While gently stirring the pot in one direction, add the beaten eggs in a slow stream to get long strands of cooked eggs.
  5. Add the tapioca mixture. Cook for 10 more minutes or until broth thickens.
  6. Add asparagus and gently mix it into the soup. Turn off the heat. The residual heat will cook the asparagus.
  7. When ready to serve, garnish with cilantro or green onions, a sprinkle of ground pepper, and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Nutrition Facts

Calories

116

Fat

5

Sat. Fat

1

Carbs

10

Fiber

2

Net carbs

9

Sugar

3

Protein

8

Sodium

1128

Cholesterol

159

The values provided should be considered estimates. Factors such as brands purchased, natural variations in fresh ingredients, etc. will change the nutritional information in any recipe. To obtain accurate nutritional information for a recipe, use your preferred nutrition calculator to determine nutritional information with the actual ingredients and quantities used.

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