Vietspices Search

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Súp Măng Cua (Asparagus Crab Soup)

Súp Măng Cua is a popular delicacy and consider to be a high-end soup in Vietnam which we get to enjoy only on special occasions like weddings or anniversaries. Asparagus or Western bamboo (Măng Tây), as we call it, was introduced by the French. Since Asparagus does not grow well in hot humid climates, it becomes a rarity in Vietnam and expensive. 

There are two types of asparagus: green and white. White asparagus is simply green asparagus that hasn't been allowed to turn green. The way white asparagus is grown is that it's covered in a thick layer of mulch and dark plastic so that no sunlight reaches the spears.This way the vegetable never gets a chance to turn green because there's no photosynthesis.This process creates pale white asparagus spears that have a mellow flavor and a bit more tender than green asparagus. 

The main ingredients for asparagus crab soup are crab meat, white asparagus and egg white which create a simply wonderful and tender soup. Since food is abundant here, we have a tendency to add more such as varieties of mushroom, quail eggs, etc...My husband likes the texture of mushroom; my girls love quail eggs, so I sometime add Enoki or Shiitake mushroom and quail eggs to the soup.  Shiitake mushroom can make the broth darker.

Green asparagus is inexpensive and can be found at almost every supermarket but white asparagus can be difficult to come by. The only way I can get white asparagus to make this soup is buying imported canned white asparagus. Some people use green asparagus in this soup but I much prefer white asparagus as I like the elegant ivory color and it has a special delicacy and milder in flavor and a bit more tender than green asparagus.

I much prefer Reese white asparagus over the one made in China that you would see in the Asian supermarket.  Its asparagus is packed in glass jars or cans and the quality is superior I think.  Even Reese 's white asparagus is so hard to find in stores. The best way to get this is by ordering  online.  Walmart online store carries it and has the best deal but it sells in bulk.

I blogged this post a few weeks ago but didn't want to post it yet as I wasn't satisfy with the ingredients I used. I wanted to wait until I had a chance to try out the Reese asparagus but it's already been over half a month. So, here is a quick and easy Súp Măng Cua recipe for you to try out. Adding mushroom is optional. I prefer to use tapioca flour over cornstarch to thicken the broth as tapioca flour makes the broth clearer. Súp Măng Cua makes a perfect soup to slurp down during this cold season.
RECIPE: Súp Măng Cua (Asparagus Crab Soup)

asparagus soup with shiitake mushroom

5 (14 oz) cans  or 10 cups Chicken Broth or Pork Broth
1 large can or 2 small cans White Asparagus
1 container (1 pound) Crab Meat, available at Costco or Sams Club
1-2 can Quail Egg or 1-2 dozen of fresh Quail Egg
1 bag Ekoni Mushroom, optional
3 Egg Whites
1/2 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 tablespoon Vegetable Seasoning
1 Whole Garlic, peeled
1/2 cup Tapioca Flour 
 1 cup Water
Cooking Broth

Bring chicken broth and garlic to boil.  In the mean time, prepare the remaining ingredients.
Preparing Asparagus

Rinse asparagus then cut into 1 inch segments.  I cut mine into thin diagonal pieces to make it easier for my kids to bite on it. Discard the top part of the asparagus as it is too soft and easy to break apart.  The broth will get cloudy.

If used fresh green asparagus, cut and discard about 1 1/2 inches of the bottom of the asparagus as this part is tough and not enjoyable.  Use a peeler to peel of the skin of asparagus.  
Preparing Quail Eggs

If used fresh quail eggs, bring eggs and water to boil.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and places egg in cold sink water to cool down the eggs and also to make it easier to peel off the shell.

If used can eggs, rinse eggs.  Set aside.
Preparing Mushroom

If used Enoki mushroom, cut the bottom and discard.  Wash and cut mushroom into an inch segments.  Set aside.
If used Shiitake mushroom, wash and thinly sliced. Set aside.  
Preparing Tapioca Flour

In a small bowl, mix flour and water.  Set aside.  I prefer to use tapioca flour to thicken sauces as it makes a totally clear sauce and lends a glossier appearance. Stands up to acidic liquids better than cornstarch. Sauces thickened with cornstarch are less opaque and glossier.
Preparing Egg Whites

Use a fork to whisk the egg whites in a small bowl.  Set aside.
Putting Soup together

When the broth is boiling, add crab meat. You might need to separate the crab meat as you are putting it in the broth.  The crab meats tend to clump together.

Bring it to a boil again. Add quail eggs, asparagus, mushroom if used.

Seasoning with sugar and mushroom seasoning.

This mushroom seasoning contains no MSG
Once it's boiling again, reduce heat to medium low. Pour flour mixture into the broth while constantly stirring it so flour won't create lumps.

Next, slowly pour the whisked eggs into the soup while using one hand to continually stir the soup in one direction with a fork. This will create the nice egg ribbons.


Ladle soup into a soup bowl. Sprinkle some white ground pepper. This should keep you warm throughout the winter. Enjoy!


  1. Hello,
    It is interesting to learn that garlic cloves are being added to the soup. Is there any reason for that? Thanks

  2. I always like to add garlic cloves to the boiling soup as the sweetness and the aroma of cooked garlic enhance the flavor of soup.

  3. Hi! Just made this on the weekend and it was fantastic! I also added in 2 tbsp of fish sauce as recommended from some other recipes I'd seen. However, I did not use the vegetable/mushroom seasoning - I couldn't find it at the major Chinese grocery store here - what is it exactly? Could I use a vegetable bouillon cube instead? Thanks!


  4. Believe it o not. There was a study done regarding mushroom seasinung and its highly toxic. Avoid if possible...

    1. I have heard about it recently but haven't done the research on it yet. I stop using it a while ago. Thanks for the warning.