Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup/ Súp Măng Cua

When I went to Vietnam last summer we spent most of our time in Saigon, also known as Ho Chi Minh City. Everyday was for the most part, an adventure. Either it was meeting new people, exploring new places or most importantly, eating more food. I have never experienced Vietnamese food as good as it was in Vietnam, which obviously makes sense.
Near our hotel was an outdoor market that my family and I would visit almost every single morning. Our popular choices for our meals were either noodle soup or Chè, which is a type of Vietnamese dessert. The woman who sold the Chè also sold the most amazing súp măng cua I have ever tried in my life! Fresh, always steaming hot and filled with deliciously large chunks of crab. This soup has always been one of my favorites and surprisingly its super easy to make too. This recipe is from my mother and is equally as delicious too. Warms me up perfectly on these cold winter days!
This recipe is kind of a mix between the traditional Crab/Asparagus soup and Shark Fin soup. I couldn't find anything else like it online, so I think it might just be something my mom made up herself. My mom's súp măng cua doesn't have any eggs in it, as you see in some other recipes and she adds enoki mushrooms, which is by far my most favorite part of the soup! Also, we use imitation shark fin because we happen to think cutting off the fins of sharks is definitely not right. But in the pictures you can see some clear-ish noodle looking things, which is actually the imitation shark fin. It adds a really nice texture to the soup. I tried looking up imitation shark fin online so I could show you guys what I'm talking about, but no luck! It can definitely be found in Vietnamese grocery stores and I'll update you if I find out more information. If it can't be found, this soup is equally delicious without it.

Vietnamese Crab & Asparagus Soup/ Súp Măng Cua
Yields: about 8 servings

10 cups homemade chicken stock, low-sodium canned also works
1 large can white asparagus, drained
2 cans of enoki mushroom, drained
imitation shark fin
1/2 lb. crab meat
1 - 2 tbsn. cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 cup water
fish sauce, to taste
pepper, to taste
cilantro, chopped (for garnish/ optional)

Heat your chicken stock over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus, mushrooms, imitation shark fin and crab meat. Next, add the corn starch mixture, stir until incorporated and bring to a boil. Stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Turn heat to low and add fish sauce and pepper to taste, top with some cilantro and enjoy!


  1. This sounds like the perfect dish in the middle of winter! I'm interested in that imitation shark's fin. Does it taste similar? Or is it just similar in texture?

  2. The recipe is a good one. I would just like to suggest that the first sentence be corrected: Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, NOT Saigon. The name of Saigon is technically "Ho Chi Minh city".

    1. For Viet people, it will always be Saigon, especially if you're from the South. More importantly, if you're from Saigon, that's always going to be the capital. I'm pretty sure Michelle doesn't need a lesson in geography.

    2. Thanks Michelle - having just returned from HCMC/Saigon, Phu Quoc and Ha Noi/Ha Long Bay, I'm sure Jeff T could spend a lifetime correcting the myriad of contradictions a traveler faces in Vietnam. I find it's far more fun to be a "student" of Vietnamese culture, than to try to impose "correctness" on those interested to learn. FYI Jeff, it's "technically" called Ha Noi by those who live there.

  3. Wow, I haven't had this soup in forever. Looks great, I might have to give your recipe a try. Thanks!

  4. Just found this recipe and your site on TasteSpotting. Amazing looking recipe and I look forward to checking back!

  5. Mm this looks really good and really simple (the best kind of recipe). I love enoki mushrooms too. Thanks for sharing a family recipe!

  6. Sup mang cua is a staple at my house during the holidays. Everyone seems to LOVE it but me. Something about the goopy texture that I'm not too fond of ;-)

  7. hahah the foodgawker description says "vietnamese crap and asparagus soup" ...

    It caught my attention. Looks tasty