Vietnamese Fresh Asparagus and Crab Soup (Sup Mang Tay Cua Recipe)

  • Preparation: 30 mins
  • Cooking: 15 mins
  • Skill level: Medium
  • Servings: 5

Description Vietnamese Fresh Asparagus and Crab Soup Recipe (Súp Măng Tây Cua)

Loaded with asparagus and crab, Vietnamese Fresh Asparagus and Crab Soup (Sup Mang Tay Cua) is elegant looking and delicately flavored. Vietnamese consider it special-occasion fare because it features asparagus, a pricey ingredient introduced by the French as an imported canned good. In Vietnamese, asparagus is măng tây, literally “French bamboo,” an apt name as both asparagus and bamboo shoots grow quickly.
Resourceful Viet cooks often maximize the asparagus flavor by adding the spears and their canning liquid to the soup. But the taste is nonetheless rather flat, and canned asparagus is mushy. To achieve a strong asparagus flavor, I use fresh asparagus to prepare the soup.
Asparagus declines in sweetness as soon as it is harvested, so choose only the freshest. Spring is asparagus season, and at farmers’ markets the spears are sold within twenty-four hours of being cut. To keep them fresh, stand them in a tall container filled with about an inch of water. (If the ends look dry, trim them first.) Refrigerate the container; there is no need to cover it with plastic.


  • 6 cups chicken stock, homemade or quick version
  • ¾ pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1¼-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced (about ⅓ cup)
  • ⅓ pound freshly picked or thawed crabmeat
  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons stock or water
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten

Method Vietnamese Fresh Asparagus and Crab Soup Recipe (Súp Măng Tây Cua)

1, In a 4-quart saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until very tender and olive green. For this soup, you want to overcook the asparagus to extract more of its flavor. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the asparagus flavor to develop further.
2, Meanwhile, in a small skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until fragrant and soft. Add the crabmeat and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes to develop the flavors. Add the fish sauce, pepper, and salt. Remove from the heat and set aside until serving.
3, Just before serving, bring the soup to a simmer. Add the crab mixture, stirring gently to distribute evenly. Taste and add extra salt, if necessary. Give the cornstarch mixture a stir and slowly pour it into the soup with one hand as you stir the soup with the other. Continue stirring for about 1 minute, or until the soup is thickened. Turn off the heat. Pour the beaten egg onto the soup in a wide circle, and then stir gently to break it up into chiffonlike pieces. Ladle the soup into a large serving bowl or individual bowls and serve immediately.

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