Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup– Bikini-Friendly!

At only 183 calories a bowl, this soup is definitely bikini-friendly!

One of my favorite Vietnamese dishes is Crab and Asparagus Soup because I love most anything with crabmeat.  The marriage of delicate crabmeat and silky asparagus truly is a match made in heaven.   If you’ve ever attended a Vietnamese wedding or a birthday party, then you’ve probably encountered and tasted this elegant crab and asparagus soup.  In Vietnam this soup, called “Súp cua măng tây,” is usually reserved for special occasions.  The asparagus was introduced to the Vietnamese when the French colonized Vietnam for over a century (from 1800’s to 1954).  The other ingredients in this dish are truly Vietnamese.  

    One of the blessings in my life is living on a canal near the bay during the weekends.  There is a wealth of seafood to be had, including fresh blue crabs.  Usually when I make this soup, I like to catch, cook, and peel my own crabs.  However, this time I’m using fresh store-bought Dungeness crabs because they were on sale at the market, and they are easier and faster to pick clean due to their large size and softer shells. Even though this soup looks and tastes fancy, it is very easy to make at home.  You can substitute canned crabmeat, asparagus, and quail eggs for the fresh versions if ingredients are not readily available or saving time is a factor, but like most things in life, fresh ingredients make the best tasting soup. 

     Add-ons, such as white fungus (I know, it sounds not so appetizing, right? It’s actually just a white type of mushroom) and quail eggs give the soup extra richness, texture, and nutritional value.  The white fungus, also called snow mushroom, resembles a sponge when dried.  You can buy this mushroom in the Asian grocery store in the dried foods section.  It is valued in Asia for making the skin youthful and bouncy due to its high hyaluronic acid and collagen content.  Snow mushrooms (which I’ll call them from here on out because white fungus just doesn’t sound that appealing) don’t really have a taste, but I like to chop them and add them to this soup because they have a slight crunchy texture…and, if they’re going to make me look younger in the process, then I’m all for it!  Let food be thy medicine, right?  

White Fungus/ Snow Mushroom

  As for the quail eggs, which are these cute little poppers of protein, they taste just like chicken eggs and add extra richness to this soup.  You can also find these eggs at the Asian market, and some of the gourmet grocery stores even carry them now.  They are about 3 to 4 times smaller than a chicken egg and come packaged in small cartons of 18 eggs.  

Quail eggs are so cute! 🙂

So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to try to make this soup at home, let’s get started!  

**Disclaimer: Please note that the highlighted links in this post are affiliate links, in which I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through those links. I have purchased all the products I recommend with my own funds and have tested and used each product before I post. Please know that I only recommend products that I like and trust and genuinely believe would help my audience. Thank you for your support of my blog in this way!

Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup:

Ingredients:

– 2 dungeness crabs, 6 blue crabs (cooked and picked over), or 1 large can of pasteurized crabmeat

– 1 bunch fresh asparagus (white preferred for a monotone soup, but green is great as well)

– 1 dried snow mushroom, soaked overnight until rehydrated.

– 1 carton fresh quail eggs (12-18 eggs), boiled.

– 6 quarts (1.5 gallons) of chicken stock

– 2 tablespoons chicken or mushroom seasoning

– 2 teaspoons fish sauce 

– 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste

– 1/2 cup tapioca starch

– 1 cup cold water

– 2 beaten eggs, placed in separate bowl

– Sesame oil, add in few drops toward the end of cooking

– freshly chopped cilantro and green onions for garnish

– freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Equipment Used:

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, Zyliss Lobster Cracker, Global 7″ Vegetable Knife

Directions:

1.  If using live crabs, boil and remove the meat from the crabs.  Set aside.

2.  Wash asparagus and break off the hard woody bottom parts of the stalk. Asparagus will easily snap off at the partition of the woody part and the tender part. (See my YouTube video that is attached below this blog post)  Slice the asparagus into 1″ slices in a diagonal fashion.

3.  After soaking the snow mushroom in cold water for a couple hours until softened and expanded, remove from the water, shake off excess water, and chop into small pieces.

4.  If using canned quail eggs, rinse, drain, and set aside.  If using fresh quail eggs, boil the eggs for about 10 minutes and place all the eggs into a bowl of cold water.  Peel each egg while holding it submerged in the water.  This will help the shell to come off much easier and cleaner.

5.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of tapioca starch with 1 cup of cold water.  Mix well into a uniform slur.  This mixture will be used to thicken up the soup later.

6.  In another bowl, beat together 2 eggs.  Set aside.

7.  Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large stockpot.  If you want more chicken flavor, you can add more chicken powder (bouillon granules) or mushroom powder.  

8.  Add the lump crabmeat to the stock and cook at a steady simmer. This will draw out the sweetness of the crabmeat into the stock and give it a lot of great crab flavor. Allow the soup to simmer for 2 minutes before adding in 2 teaspoons of sugar.

9. Bring the soup back to a boil and add in the tapioca-water mixture that you prepared earlier. Give the soup a good stir while you add in the tapioca mixture. Keep stirring until the soup gets thicker. You want the consistency of a Chinese restaurant-style egg drop soup. If your soup is too thick, add in a little water to thin out. If you want the soup to be thicker, add more cornstarch to a bowl and mix with cold water, then add mixture to the boiling soup.

Add tapioca starch mixture and continuously stir soup until it becomes thick and viscous.

10. When the soup reaches the desired consistency (thick and viscous but still fluid), add in the beaten eggs in a gradual stream while constantly stirring to form beautiful egg ribbon strands (very much like egg drop soup). You can refer to my attached YouTube video below for a full tutorial.

11. Increase the heat and add in the cut asparagus. Cook until tender. Add in the chopped snow mushroom if using. Remember, the mushroom is optional. Much of Asian cuisine has to do with texture and mouthfeel. The added snow mushroom gives the soup a pleasant crunchy texture to contrast the silkiness of the cooked asparagus and tender crabmeat.

12. As the asparagus is cooking, add a few drops of fish sauce to the soup. This will add umami flavor to your soup. Don’t add too much fish sauce because it will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the soup. Add about 1/2 teaspoon only.

13. Continue simmering the soup until asparagus becomes tender and silky. At this point, bring the soup back up to a gentle boil and add in the peeled quail eggs. Again, this ingredient is also optional. Simmer the soup until all ingredients are well blended and smooth, about another 10 minutes.

14. When the soup is in its last couple minutes of cooking time, add in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sesame oil to the soup. This will impart a lovely flavor and aroma to the soup.

15. When the soup is done, ladle it out into bowls and sprinkle freshly ground black or white peppercorns, finely minced cilantro and green onions onto the soup.

Add finely minced cilantro and green onions for a delightfully fragrant and delicious soup!

This soup is wonderful for hot summer days as well as cold winter nights. Best of all, this soup is very low in calories and dense in nutrients. I hope you try out this elegant soup and enjoy it with family and friends!

** You can check out my full instructional video on how to make Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup here:


Crispy Fried Snapper with Sweet and Sour Tamarind Sauce

Beautiful morning from my home on the canal.

I look forward to days like today, when the coolness of autumn has set in, the sun is bright, the water is as smooth as silken tofu, and the fish are beginning to come closer inshore.  The Gulf of Mexico is abundant with marine life, and finding fresh seafood to prepare for each meal of the day has been a blessing for us.  One of the most abundant types of fish found here are snappers: red, lane, and mangrove, to name a few.  The federal red snapper season is now closed, but thankfully, we can still catch and keep snappers within Texas waters.  With the cooling temperatures, snappers tend to come closer inshore than in the summer months, so we don’t have to go out very far to catch them.

What I like to call a “silken tofu” sea –perfect conditions for offshore fishing!

As beautiful as they are to look at, snappers are not my favorite fish to eat because they tend to be coarse and dry if not prepared properly. Today, I want to add some pep to my snapper.  So we’ll be cooking Crispy Fried Snapper with Sweet and Sour Tamarind Sauce. 

**Disclaimer: Please note that the blue highlighted links in this post are affiliate links, in which I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through those links. I have purchased all the products I recommend with my own funds and have tested and used each product before I post. Please know that I only recommend products that I trust and find valuable. Thank you for your support of my blog in this way!

Crispy Fried Snapper with Sweet and Sour Tamarind Sauce

Ingredients:

For the Fish:

  • 1 small to medium snapper of any kind, about 2 to 3 pounds (I am using mangrove snapper here)
  • Vinh Thuan crispy flour mix, or cornstarch for dredging 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • large wok or deep fryer (my wok of choice is this model by Le Creuset)

For the Tamarind Sauce:

  • Tamarind concentrate, mixed with 1 cup water. (If there are seeds, remove seeds.) If using premade liquid tamarin
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (preferably 3 crabs brand or Red Boat)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp crispy fried shallots (optional, to enhance flavor)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper

For the Garnish:

  • chopped green scallions
  • chopped cilantro

1.  If you are buying your fish, you can ask the fish monger to clean the fish for you.  You will need to have your fish descaled, gutted, and beheaded (unless you want the head on, as is normally the case in most other countries).  If you are cleaning your own catch, please do the same.  I like to clean my fish outdoors to keep the mess to a minimum, but when the weather is too hot or rainy, I tend to clean my fish indoors.  One way to keep the scales from flying everywhere when you descale fish inside is to fill your kitchen sink halfway with water, or enough to immerse your fish, and descale the fish keeping it submerged in the water. Be sure to have a screen mesh handy when it’s time to drain the sink, so that the scales don’t clog up your drain.

Add enough water to submerge your fish.
Descaling with fish submerged prevents scales flying everwhere.



2.  Once the fish has been cleaned, lay it on a cutting board, remove the head (optional) if you haven’t already, and make deep slits into the flesh, about 1 inch apart.  This is to help cook the fish quickly and thoroughly, and to help absorb all that delicious sauce we’re going to make later.

The beheading of Mr. Fish

3. Rub Kosher salt into the fish, about 2 teaspoons. Generously sprinkle the fish with frying mix or cornstarch. Don’t put on a heavy layer, but enough to lightly dredge the fish.

4.  Prepare the sweet and sour tamarind sauce.  For those of you who do not know what a tamarind is– it is a fruit that grows in tropical countries and has a tart, raisin-like taste.  Tamarinds are widely used in Thai and other Southeast Asian cuisines.  Pour a cup of tamarind concentrate into a saucepan.  Add 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons fish sauce.  Mix well and heat the mixture up over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  At this point, you can taste the sauce to see if it needs any more sugar or fish sauce to your desired taste.  Stir in fried shallots (optional).  Set aside.

    In a separate pan, stir-fry the garlic, onions, and bell peppers until fragrant and tender.  Add that to the sauce and stir well.  You can also add in chili peppers if you want your sauce to be spicy, but since I’m cooking for small kids, I made mine mild.  Your sauce is now ready.

Tamarind fruit concentrate
Add in fish sauce and sugar.
Add fried shallots for more flavor (this can be homemade or store-bought at an Asian market).
Stir-fry garlic, onions, and peppers until fragrant and just tender.
Finished Sweet and Sour Tamarind Sauce

 5.  Heat peanut oil in a wok or deep fryer to 375 degrees.  Carefully place fish into the oil, being extremely careful not to splatter scalding oil on yourself. (I have many scars all over my arms from such oil splatters.)  I use long sturdy tongs or wear kitchen mittens.  Fry fish for 5 minutes on each side.  Do not over-cook, because snapper will be dry and coarse.  Drain fish on paper towels.

Fry the fish 5 minutes on each side.

Crispy fish is now ready to dress with tamarind sauce.
Tastes delicious with rice and salad!
My best critics approved of this dish whole-heartedly! 🙂

Hope you get to try out my recipe one day. Wishing everyone a fun and relaxing weekend!

To watch my offshore adventure on the first day of Federal red snapper season 2019, please click on the link below: